If you own a business, you probably have a basic knowledge of SEO and how it can help improve your online marketing. SEO is ever-changing and quite frankly can be difficult to keep up with. With countless factors at play, it can be difficult to know what changes to make to generate the best impact for your business. While on-page optimizations like expanding content or adding new topic-focused pages typically offer the best results, there are a few backend tweaks you can make that will help Google understand your website – and rank it accordingly. One of those changes is the addition of schema markup.
What is Schema Markup?
So what exactly is schema, and why should you care? Schema markup is microdata a website owner can add to the code to help Google better understand your website. Regardless of what type of service you offer, there is a schema markup out there that can help Google understand your website. From a recipe blog to a worldwide E-Commerce store, you can improve visibility with schema.
Why Should You Add Schema to Your Site?
When Google crawls your site, all it can do is read the code. This means that it can’t actually understand the context behind the content and images, so it is not naturally able to generate a full or deep understanding of what you’re offering. For example, it would be difficult for Google to know if numbers such as 613 are part of a phone number, address, the price of an item, etc. By providing Google with the context it needs to understand your website, the search engine will be able to provide more accurate search results. While there is no conclusive evidence that schema can boost rankings, it allows you to put your best foot forward and provide Google with helpful information it needs to understand your website.
How to Implement Schema on Your Site:
When it comes to implementing schema markup, there are a few tips that can make things easier. There are many online tools that will generate the schema code for you. We’ve added a few that will help you implement your own schema! This tool will allow you to generate the code for many types of schema, such as breadcrumb, event, FAQ, and how-to schema. The most common type of schema would be LocalBusiness/Organization schema. This tool will allow you to generate the code required for this schema.
We recommend adding the desired schema to the footer of the website. Always check the Structured Data Testing Tool once you’ve added your schema to ensure there are no errors.
Best Types of Schema Markups to Consider:
Sounds simple right? Well, there are actually several different types of markups you can add, each with their own benefits. We’ll touch on some that we use frequently:
Organization & LocalBusiness Schema:
Local Business schema is a type of organization schema. This is probably the most common schema implemented on websites by our SEO specialists. You’ll want to start by deciding what category your business falls under, local business and organization being the most common types. You can find a full list of possibilities here. The main purpose behind local business (or organization) schema is to help customers (and Google) find helpful information such as location, opening hours, menus, contact information, etc. This gives Google the context it needs to populate results where necessary to enhance a user’s search.
Once you’ve added schema to your site, it’s recommended that you review it in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. This allows you to see if the schema is detectable, or if there are any issues.
You can also use this tool to check out what type of markup competitors are using to generate some ideas for your own website.
Review Star Schema:
In the image above, which result caught your eye first? I would assume it was the second option due to the star rating below.
Google enforced some pretty strict rules when it comes to adding review schema to your site. Last year you’d see review stars throughout the SERPs and not necessarily in places they should have been. For example, review stars were common for local business and organization markups. These have since been deemed “self-serving” and are not allowed. The only way to get this markup to show in the SERPs is to have a product schema.
We’re actually seeing companies trying to maintain their star rating by changing their schema to product. The issue with this is that these companies don’t have SKUs or proper pricing that this markup requires, leading to flagged warnings.
Review schema is eye-catching and creates trust for the brand right in the SERPs, which is why many are trying to maintain it. We believe in keeping things natural and trying to align with Google’s values. For this reason, we don’t recommend changing your schema over to keep the stars. If you recall in the beginning of this article, we stated that schema is supposed to help Google understand your website. Tricking it defeats the purpose and could eventually lead to being penalized. We believe that keeping your reviews up under your appropriate organization schema markup still provides helpful information to Google, even if they don’t show up in the SERPs.
In order to add FAQ schema to your web page, you first need to add frequently asked questions to the page for the schema to pull. There are many benefits to FAQ schema. For starters, it takes up a lot of real estate in Google which helps you stand out from your competitors. With voice search becoming bigger and bigger, FAQ schema also gets you to optimize your website for question-based searches. This is also a great way to get quality, easy to read content on your site that will benefit your users. When looking for FAQs, check out the “people also ask” section in Google for your desired keywords. Often times you’ll be able to find other important questions being asked that you can work into your FAQs. You should also consider your users and what they frequently ask. This will allow you to ensure your website is offering value to users and keeps them engaged and reading.
Recent Changes to Testing Schema
Google recently announced that it will no longer be supporting the Structured Data Testing Tool. They will be replacing this with their Rich Snippets tool. It is not known if this will fully replace the Structured Data Testing Tool, but as of right now, both tools are live and functioning so give them a try!
In conclusion, schema is a helpful technical SEO tool that will help Google understand what your business does and what your services are. Today we went through the details of what schema is, what different types of schema there are, and how to implement it correctly, providing you with helpful resources. Google’s understanding of your website through schema is crucial for the search engine to correctly suggest your pages to users in the search results. Go beyond the low-hanging fruit of SEO and invest more time into your code and website – the results will make it all worth it!