What is Schema markup and why should you use it?

Schema markup is the not exactly the new kid on the optimisation block, but so many people still haven't heard of what it is – a huge collection of tags that tell search engines (such as Google) what certain snippets of information on your site are about. It encompasses things like reviews, company branding and location etc. which enhances search results by providing additional information and improving results supplied.

In a previous post we talked about the ability of conversational search to recognise pronouns and contextualise words and phrases. It is Schema markup that enables this.

So, how does Schema work?

In HTML, you might present a piece of information about, say, Sir Richard Branson in a user-friendly way such as:

<div>

Sir Richard Branson</br>

DOB: 18/07/1950</br>

Occupation: Founder of Virgin Group

</div>

 

This is fine for user experience, but only allows search engines to match words to user queries based on keywords or phrases. Schema markup enables search engines to put information into a context, that is, assign a meaning to the words. Thus:

 

<div itemscope itemtype=http://schema.org/Person>

                <span itemprop=”name”>Sir Richard Branson</span></br>

                <span><mea itemprop=”birthdate” content=”1950-07-18”>DOB:

18/07/1950</span></br>

Occupation: <span itemprop=”jobTitle”>Founder</span> of <span

Itemprop=”worksFor”>Virgin Group</span>

</div>

 

This code tells the search engine that Branson is a person, his birth date is 18 July 1950 and so forth.  Providing this information means that communication with search engines, particularly via mobile, is faster and easier. From the recent buzz about conversational search and the development of search on mobile devices, this is highly significant.

 

The benefits of adopting Schema

SEO marketers really looking to stay ahead of the game should think about integrating Schema markup into their HTML and building in knowledge graph optimised assets. The benefits are clear:

-          Listings containing a rich snippet can experience an increase in click through rates by as much as 15%

-           According to Kissmetrics, websites using Schema markup often rank higher in search results

-          A greater amount of Schema data enables more opportunity for appearing in searches

-          Only a small percentage (0.3%) of all websites currently use Schema, so there’s a lot to gain by implementing it now

The slow adoption of Schema may be due to a lack of technical knowhow on the part of webmasters. However, Google has produced a structured data markup helper to help you along. Simply identify elements of your website and start tagging.

The most common types of Schema include things likeevents, blogs, articles and products. The trick is to keep it simple to begin with – start broad and then add in more specific markups as you become familiar with the process. Ultimately, the more you markup the better, so long as you only markup content that is visible to your users.

Predictions are that Schema markup will be with us for some time, so it’s worth striking while the iron is hot in order to get ahead of the competition.  With news that Google Authorship has now been removed, with a push towards Schema tagging instead, more businesses will move over to this.


About Chris Surridge

Chris Surridge is an experienced Digital Marketing Director with a wealth of knowledge on Search Marketing Strategies and Conversion Analysis. His value is in strategic planning for client accounts, and his consultative services.


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