Guide to Schema Markup for Rich Snippets & SEOApril 19, 2021 8:52 am | Published by Next Horizon
Recently updated on August 8th, 2022
One of the most powerful ways to boost your local SEO and search engine results page (SERP) ranking is with schema markup. Schema markup is code that is inserted into the back-end of your website. It serves search engines detailed information about the type of content, website, organization, and can even deliver location information that will help your local search results rank.
Not into code? Not a problem. You don’t need to know how to code in order to power your content with structured data schema, microdata, or schema markup! Sure, knowing how to code would be useful, but there are tools and plugins that can help you deliver the details to search engine crawlers.
Here’s the real kicker: since this is a relatively new development in search engine optimization and is seen to be more technical, not everyone is making use of schema markup optimization strategies!
Yep – you read it right. This is a code-free way of getting a massive leg-up on your competition! In this guide to schema markup for rich snippets, we’ll focus on optimization for Google – because, let’s face it, that’s the search engine that most people use.
What Is Schema Markup?
We all know that search engines use bots, or spiders, to crawl websites. The spiders return the results to the search engine’s servers for storage – a process called indexing. So, when a website makes use of schema markup, those instructions on how to index your site are more clear, concise, and direct for those little spiders.
Schema markup is code that helps search engines index your content with better accuracy. It’s a granular way to spoon-feed search engine classifications and categories about your content, which, in turn, delivers a better experience and more on-point results to users.
Take a look at how Schema.org explains the context that schema markup delivers:
Most webmasters are familiar with HTML tags on their pages. Usually, HTML tags tell the browser how to display the information included in the tag. For example, <h1>Avatar</h1> 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.
Why Is Schema Markup Important?
Schema markup is meant for search engines – but what’s good for the search engine, is good for the user! The more a search crawler understands the content and context of your web pages and posts, the more accurate your site will appear in search results. When a website has proper schema markup in place, users can see in SERPS what a website, post, or page delivers.
Schema Markup SERP Designations
Schema markup helps your site rank better for different types of content by displaying them in a more organized structure in SERPs. From toy stores and health clinics to movies and geolocation tags – there are hundreds of properties that can help classify your content. Don’t let that fact turn you off to markup – you don’t need to memorize them all! Some of the most popular types of markup designations include:
- FAQ pages
- About pages
- Contact pages
- Book reviews
- TV ratings
- Location-specific information
Types of Schema Markup
There are different types of markup that interact better (and worse) with certain search engines. You provide structured data markup in your HTML and AMP pages, and search engines will deliver better results based on your code. Don’t worry. There are WordPress plugins that have the language built-in, so you can skip this section if you don’t want to learn about the different types of schema markup.
RDFa, or Resource Description Framework in Attributes, is a type of data format for embedding RDF statements in HTML, XHTML, and other XML languages. This language is preferred by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) when working with HTML and XML formats. But since we’re aiming to please Google search crawlers, we’re still privy to using JSON-LD.
Introduced in HTML5, microdata is a set of tags that allows you to guide search engine bots with more detailed instruction. Your blog posts and web pages have an underlying purpose that people understand once they read the text on the page; but search engines have a limited grasp on context. By adding microdata tags to the HTML of your site, you can help search engines understand your content and display it in more specific search results.
Schema Markup for Rich Results
Search engine results pages don’t just display static lists of links – that would be rather dull for user experience! SERPs show something called SERP Features, which are dynamic spreads of engaging content in the form of ads, image or video displays, or rich snippets. Rich snippets are useful, bite-sized bits of information that surface above the standard list of search result links – and it pays to have featured snippets!
According to Ahrefs, if you rank first for a search term and also have position zero (featured snippet) you gain 31% more traffic compared to just having the first position without the featured snippet.
As stated before, schema markup helps search engines organize your content and understand context – something not easily done solely with HTML. So, let’s talk about how to test and use schema markup on your site to power your SEO, land you some rich snippets, and place you higher in SERPs!
To Test Your Schema Markup:
Not sure if your page supports rich results? Visit Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool and enter your URL. These results will show you whether or not your content is able to rank for rich snippets or other featured snippets. It will show you what content is currently eligible, and from there, you can decide which data points or markup opportunities are available.
To Generate Structured Data Markup for a Specific URL:
- Use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
- Select the type of data you wish to present.
- Paste the URL you want to markup.
- Your page will load in the markup tool workspace. In the left panel, you’ll see your web page. In the right, you’ll notice your data items.
- As you hover over elements in the left panel, you’ll notice you can select elements to markup. Different options will appear depending on which data type you selected in Step 2.
- Fill in as much information as you can, then select “Create HTML”.
- Once generated, the right window panel will display various options, including the type of schema markup to generate. Make sure “JSON-LD” is chosen.
- From here, you will copy the markup and go to your CMS or code editor to insert the code into that page’s header.
If you choose “Microdata,” or “RDFa,” steps 7 and 8 will look different. Always be mindful of the data type, URL, and type of schema markup selected before implemented the new code onto your site.
Schema Markup Plugins
And now that the introduction is out of the way, here we are: the code-free way of using schema markup on your site! We have tested and selected our favorite SEO and schema markup plugin tool for WordPress. Browse through this list and choose your weapon!
WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems in the world, and Yoast SEO is the most popular WordPress plugin for SEO. That should tell you something right there!
Whether you choose the premium version or the standard, Yoast SEO uses JSON-LD to inject structured data schema on your website (yep – the language that Google prefers). In your WordPress dashboard, you’ll notice at the bottom of the editor view of each post or page, you’ll see the Yoast SEO plugin. Here, you can optimize for certain keywords, social layouts, and schema markup! If you opt for the premium plugin, you will get a few more schema classifications, but we find that the standard schema markup with Yoast SEO does the job – most of the time.
Schema App Structured Data
This SEO plugin involves more hands-on coding and a bit more knowledge of HTML and schema markup – but it’s mighty. Like Yoast SEO, this plugin generates schema markup for your entire site. Unlike Yoast SEO, you can edit the structured data schema generated directly on the page – without having to navigate to the source files!
Schema Markup Final Thoughts
The best thing you can do is start with the Yoast SEO base plugin to inject schema markup onto your site. Once you’ve optimized your content for structured data, go back through your site and make use of Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to make sure you didn’t miss any markup opportunities. If you spot a few missing tags, use Google’s Structure Data Markup Helper to create the missing tags to add to your site.
Schema markup is a technical SEO strategy that’s around for the long haul, so while it’s easier to shy away from the code for now, it’ll help you in the long run to get comfortable with using JSON-LD. Doing so now will put you ahead of your competition in search results!
Next Horizon provides our dedicated team of experts to align your business goals with tangible digital marketing strategies that give you deeper insights into your ideal customer, with innovative, cost-effective services.JSON-LD, local SEO, microdata, schema markup, SEO, structured data
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