How to Develop a Schema Markup Strategy for a Website

When you decide to do schema markup on a website, you have to figure out what pages you want to optimize and what part of the schema.org vocabulary you should use to get the best organic search results and the most Google rich results. This blog walks you through how the Schema App team builds schema markup strategies for our clients. We want to help you do the same for your own site, or for your clients’ sites. 

This blog and the supporting video will cover these key topics:

  • Schema markup 101
  • Identifying the key content you want to optimize
  • Connecting content
  • Schema markup best practices

Identify Key Content/Aspects of the Business

The first step in doing schema markup for a website is to understand what the website is about, and what are the key things you want to rank for and tell the world about. This usually includes the business, contact information, products, services, reviews, and important people. It may also include authority articles about what the business does.

If it is about a business that sells pizza, then you would look at the locations and all their contact and ordering information, the pizzas they sell, their customer reviews and testimonials, and maybe the owner and team.

Here’s a way you can logically map this out to see what pages you should optimize. In this table, list all the key aspects of the business, then define it (ideally with a schema.org definition). Then find the page that talks mostly about this part of the business. We’ve used our town’s hockey team, the Guelph Storm, as an example. 

Review Eligible Google Features

The next step is to understand the Google features that are available and which ones you want to try to achieve for your top content. Get to know these features, and what markup helps produce each feature. It will help you articulate the value of doing markup to your client.

For a local business, we recommend the following features as a starting point. Some will depend on the type of business. The features with a (*) can all be done for the organization! So you can enable five features by just optimizing a page about the company.

Recommended Local Business Google Features

To help you map the features to your top content, use the table above and add a column for Google Feature. First, review the key content you identified in the first step, and list what Google features they qualify for on that page. Then, in the new rows at the bottom, add the additional features you want to achieve. For the example below, I added Video Replays after comparing the available features to the site content. Then you have to work backwards for these features and identify pages on the website that would qualify for them.

Evaluate Ease and Method of Implementation

You now need to give some thought to the implementation of your schema markup strategy, focusing on the areas that offer a high value with a low development cost. When considering your implementation strategy, think about:

  • the content pattern (single or recurring)
  • whether or not you have built-in capabilities (Do you have a CMS that has out-of-the-box schema markup functionality? If so, does that functionality satisfy your requirements?)
  • how you want to implement (backend or frontend developers, marketing or SEO team)

These factors will influence how easy or the hard the implementation will be and whether or not there is a way to automate it. We can help with these decisions! Rest assured we’ve never encountered a site that we can’t optimize.

Evaluate Each Page – Single or Recurring

So now you have a list of the pages/content you want to optimize and determine if it is single page (only one exists and will ever exists) or is recurring. To figure this out, ask yourself the question, “Does this page type have content that is recurring?” Examples of recurring content include: blog posts, videos, recipes, and locations (if it’s a multi-location business). If you have 10 or more of these pages, it is recurring.

We recommend using the Schema App Editor for single page markup and the Schema App Highlighter for recurring content pages.

Regardless of whether you are doing markup for a single page or recurring pages, the important thing to know is that Google’s Structured Data Recommendations require that the schema markup you create needs to reflect what is on the page. Google says:

[Schema markup] should be an up-to-date and accurate reflection of the topic and content already found on the page, such as text, images, and videos. For example:

  • A page about a dinner recipe may use recipe structured data to list the ingredients and describe the cooking steps.
  • Markup should not be used to hide content not visible to users in any form, since it might create a misleading or deceptive search experience. For example, if the JSON-LD markup describes a performer, the HTML body should describe that same performer.

Implementation Methods

Schema App automatically deploys schema markup to your website, so you can save time, make updates faster, and reduce delays caused by waiting for IT/developers.  It works with all website platforms because of our integrations with Tag Manager, with Javascript, or our custom add-ons for WordPress, Shopify, Drupal, etc. You can find more information on the various integration options here.

Pulling it All Together

Once you’ve evaluated these factors, you can determine the ease of implementation and the appropriate integration method. You can also re-order your list based on which items are the easiest to implement and offer the highest value (Google rich results, features, etc.).

The below table outlines the strategy for the Guelph Storm, accounting for the fact that they use WordPress site and sell merchandise through a Shopify site.

Connecting Content

The next step is to connect the dots between your markup, so that you aren’t left with islands of code, but with a knowledge graph. In doing so, you can explicitly tell Google how things relate to one another and how you want your content to be understood. When Google understands who you are and what you do, it will lead to greater digital visibility.

For each of your content types, you need to ask, “How does it relate to other things on the web or in the business?” To help you understand this question, we have a free tool called Schema Paths.

This information allows you to ensure your schema markup is embedded and connects your content together, whether that’s to your primary organization or a given topic. If using one of the Schema App tools listed above, you will be prompted to make this connections as you go about creating your markup.

Best Practices

Here are some things to keep in mind as you develop your schema markup strategy and evaluate your site content.

  • Use JSON-LD (rather than microdata or RDFa), as recommended by Google
  • Use the most specific class possible
  • Markup only what is on the page
  • One key page for each business concept
  • Connect “things” in schema markup
  • Relate to Wikipedia/websites to define topics

So now you know how to identify what pages you should optimize and how to determine the best way to optimize it depending on page type. If you have suggestions or ideas on how we can make this process even better, let us know! Happy Schema’ing.

 

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