If the words metadata, structured data, and schema markup send a shiver down your spine — you’re not alone.
SEO beginners and pros alike share this disdain to various degrees, and just a few minutes of learning about them is enough to make your head spin. Unless you love tinkering around with code, you probably aren’t getting super excited at the thought of using schema markup to improve your website.
So should you just leave schema markup to those who want to go the extra mile? Absolutely not.
Markup gives you the best chance of appearing at the top of search results at a time when that space is at a premium. Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on whether you’re the one doing the searching or not — people are used to seeing clear answers to their search questions almost instantaneously, and schema markup answers that need.
This means that including it won’t just make you more desirable to search engines, but it will also make your customers happy. And you do want happy customers, right?
What Is Schema Markup?
You may not have heard of schema markup, but you certainly benefit from it.
It’s because of markup that we’re so used to receiving the information we want on a silver platter. We no longer need to sift through websites to see if they have what we’re looking for with schema markup. It gives us relevant information right away, right in the search results.
These results are called “rich results,” and they’re called rich for a reason. Rather than just a clickable page title and a description, they’ll include the most important information presented in a clear way, often accompanied by images or videos.
Schema markups themselves are bits of code that, when inserted into a site’s HTML, help search engines understand your site better. They give sophisticated search engines like Google what’s called “structured data,” which is what helps them interpret your site more accurately. The more context and information they have, the higher your chances of ranking well.
Examples of Schema’s Rich Results
What’s an example of a schema’s rich results?
Let’s take a look:
- You’ve heard the latest Batman movie was awesome. A quick search reveals showtimes, locations, reviews, and a preview at the top of your results page.
- You’re interested in the new Apple Airpods. Seconds later, you’ve already seen that it has consistent five-star reviews.
- You have shrimp in the freezer and haven’t had Italian in a while. You look up “Italian shrimp pasta,” and you’ve got a full recipe right in front of you.
Because of schema markup, you get logical, relevant, and specific answers to your questions, and you get them delivered in a format that is fast, convenient, and accurate — rich snippets.
What Are Rich Snippets?
Rich snippets include important, pertinent information and give people a quick way to get the information they need. They’re the recipes, reviews, and other information people are looking for.
There are too many types of markup categories to list here, but they generally fall within a few main categories:
- Creative Works (movies, books, video games, music, etc.)
- Medical Conditions
- Local Businesses
Schema markup and rich results work together to showcase the most relevant information. It’s because of this duo that you get what you need at the click of a button and find out what a website is about in a matter of seconds.
How Does Schema Markup Work?
How exactly does schema markup help SEO, and how does it work?
First, you should know that schema markup is not considered to be a factor that Google uses for search rankings. You do not automatically uplevel in the algorithm just because you use it. However, since schema markup makes it easier for search engines to understand your website, you’re likely to rank more highly when you implement it.
Without getting too technical, let’s just say that including schema markup adds an additional layer of context for search engines which enables them to give the best possible results to searchers.
Search engines engage with your site in a two-step process. First, they crawl your site to see what the content on your site is about. Then they interpret the meaning of your content based on schema markup — if that’s available. It adds context for search engines and gives them the power to assess not just the raw data on your website but the meaning of the data.
Let’s say you review a book on your site, analyzing character development, literary technique, who published it, and who wrote it.
Without schema markup, Google doesn’t know which name is which (who is the author, the publisher, or the main character). With schema markup, you can add markups like publisher, title, and author. Google can classify your information more accurately and deliver the information people are looking for.
Why Include Schema Markup?
Higher Search Rankings
Anything you can do to boost your results in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) will benefit you, and as we’ve seen, schema markup will do just that.
Remember, search engines prioritize sites with the most relevant, important answers to searches. User experience is a top priority, and having schema markup increases the chance that people will get the results they’re looking for or will at least understand what your website is about before clicking on it.
Improved User Experience
Like high rankings, anything you do to improve the user experience will benefit you. The more you show people right away what you’re about, the higher the value you bring to them. No one likes to click onto a site that’s unrelated to what they need. It’s a waste of time.
To give the most value to your customers, you should make it easy for them to know what your site is about and have great content that speaks to their concerns, problems, and needs. Doing this right may involve hiring a professional.
Higher Click-Through Rate
Click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of clicks to your site per number of impressions, and a high CTR means that a high percentage of people found your ad or site to be relevant. As you might guess, a low CTR means just the opposite. Search engines will place more value on sites with a high CTR, so it will improve your ranking in addition to being better for you and your customers.
Schema markup is well known to improve CTR. It will help you rank more highly, which leads to higher CTR, which leads to higher rankings — this is a cycle you want to be in.
Schema Markup Tools
Now that you know what schema markup is, how exactly do you start using it?
If you’re afraid that it may be too technical for you, don’t worry!
You don’t need to know code or even have high-level technical awareness to include it. There are plenty of simple and free online tools that you can turn to that will help you boost your schema markup.
#1 Hall Analysis Schema Markup Generator: This is probably one of the easiest markup generators to use and is helpful for owners of all sorts of websites. It helps you create markups for articles, website info, local businesses, recipes, events, people, job postings, product information, and breadcrumb navigation.
To use it, you’ll choose the type of markup you want and fill out a form. Then, you’ll get a generated code you can insert into your site’s HTML.
#2 Structured Data Markup Helper: This interactive tool allows you to click through your email or website and select the information you want in the mark-up. To begin with, you’ll select which categories to mark up, such as movies, restaurants, events, Q&As, TV episodes, and more. Then you’ll enter either the URL or HTML, which will generate the code.
But adding schema markup is just step one. You also need a way to test and refine it: Enter schema markup testing tools.
#1: SEMrush Site Audit Tool: This comprehensive tool tests for everything from site performance to total errors, crawlability, internal linking, and of course, markup. Each category includes visuals like charts and graphs to help you make sense of the results and know what to improve.
#2: Rich Results Test: To test how your results appear in Google specifically, enter the URL or code, and in less than two minutes, you’ll see whether or not your site displays rich results and whether there’s information missing from them. You’ll also get a suggested article or resource to help you improve.
#3: Schema Markup Validator: This is another tool from Google to use if you know what you’re doing. While the rich results test will show you how your results appear in Google, the markup validator tests for general structured data (it’s not Google-specific). Not only will you see the data in code form, but you’ll also get a breakdown of the type of data it is, such as address or name.
Carter & Custer Can Help Upgrade Your SEO Game
We know you have something exceptional to offer people. If all that’s standing in the way of you and your customers is tech, it’s time to do something about it. Sometimes taking the first step is all you need to get the momentum going. So try out free schema markup tools if you’re ready, or reach out to us to see how we can help you.
As a mission-driven agency, our goal is to make the world a better, happier place by helping changemakers like you get their messages out through repurposed content, long-form writing, SEO optimization, and more!
Check out what we did for our client Ed Mylett, a #1 ranked iTunes business podcaster. In just 4 months, we were able to increase his site traffic by 30% by repurposing his podcast episodes into long-form, SEO-rich articles.
Get in touch with us to see what we can do for you!