Why is Schema Markup Important for SEO?

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Schema markup is a great way to help your website stand out from your competitors. Here's a beginner's guide into what schema markup is, how it is beneficial for search engine results, and why you should implement schema markup for your business' website. 

What is schema markup?

Schema markup is a form of microdata that you can add to your website to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in search results. The data is structured using a markup language, such as HTML code, which is easy for search engines to understand and process.

Structured data allows a publisher to mark up lots of different pages and page elements, such as the name of a product, review content, ratings, and images for search engines. Schema markup is most often used to provide additional information about the following:

  • Organisations
  • Person
  • Place
  • Product

If you are not sure how to write schema markup, a full list of items you can mark up with Schema is available here.

A major purpose of adding schema markup is to communicate specific information about a web page so that it becomes eligible to be displayed as a rich result in Google's search results. Implementing schema markup and its rich snippets can provide context to an otherwise ambiguous webpage:

“Usually, HTML tags tell the browser how to display the information included in the tag. For example, < h1>Avatar tells the browser to display the text string “Avatar” in a heading 1 format. However, the HTML tag doesn't give any information about what that text string means—“Avatar” could refer to the hugely successful 3D movie, or it could refer to a type of profile picture—and this can make it more difficult for search engines to intelligently display relevant content to a user.” - Schema.org

There are a number of methods for implementing structured data on websites. Some CMS's (Content Management System) have a plugin, whilst on other websites, you may have to manually generate it and add it directly into a page yourself. In any case, schema markup will be beneficial when displaying information from your website in search engine results.

History of schema

The rollout of structured data began in 1997, though it was fragmented and barely used until 2011 when Schema.org was introduced. Major search engines, Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo!, collaborated to create a shared vocabulary. The primary goal of this was to provide webmasters with a single vocabulary where they could share the information search engines needed to understand their content. A shared vocabulary makes it easier for webmasters and developers to decide on a schema and gain maximum benefit.

Bing Markup Validator, Yandex Microformat validator, and Google Structured Data Testing Tool could all be used to test the validity of the data marked up with the schemas. However, Schema.org eventually launched its own markup validator tool to help debug a range of structured data types in one place.  

Although structured data has been around for decades, its importance increases as more digital marketers embrace its benefits. Schema markup is especially important in the age of Hummingbird and RankBrain. How a search engine interprets the context of a query will determine the quality of search results. 

Why is schema important?

When webmasters include specific markup code to webpages, it helps search engines better understand the content on that page. Structured data makes it easy to communicate important information about your business - such as what products are for sale, where a business is located, and what the hours of operation are. 

There is no evidence that Schema has a direct effect on organic search rankings. However,  structured data does improve the way your page displays in search engine results pages by enhancing rich snippets. This increased visibility on the results page can improve click-through rates to your website. High click-through rates indicate to Google that the content is what a searcher is looking for - or at least that it aligns with their query.

Google listing recipes

These are some of Google's rich snippets for how to make pancakes. The information - including the images, review star ratings, ingredients, and cooking time information - was communicated to the search engine with structured data. 

Structured data can result in increased visibility in search engines and improve the overall click-through rate to your website. 

Although schema is not obligatory, it is fast becoming essential. Now, search engines are evolving to meet the needs of voice search, voice assistants, and mobile search. If you don't add structured data to your web pages, your competitors will (and search engines will notice). Competitors who are using schema are more likely to dominate in an appearance on search engines compared to yours.

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