WHAT IS SCHEMA MARKUP? Every year, new technology and new search engine algorithms change the way digital marketing works. As more and more business owners onboard to expanding their company's online presence through the Internet, tapping into the market of Internet and mobile browsers, so do the number of ways to help your search engine optimization (SEO) increases. From carefully managing the layout of your business's website to taking more complex measures such as semantic keywording into consideration, SEO's popularity doesn't stem just from its low cost and the benefits of bringing in website traffic organically, but because the measures it uses are easily accessible even by individuals who may not consider themselves the most tech-savvy. One such measure that has been on the rise is schema markup. While schema markup sounds more like a term from your psychology textbook, it's, in fact, a useful piece of coding to consider especially for those who would like to improve their SEO. In this article, not only do we go over its definition and examples, but we also break down in straightforward terms how schema markups can affect your SEO. Definition of Schema Markup Schema markup is essentially microdata or a piece of code, that helps to contextualize a webpage in a search result. When you search up a keyword on Google, every search entry pops up with the link to the website in blue, its URL in green, and a snippet that draws text from the webpage in gray. The appearance of this snippet in gray is made possible due to schema markup. While it's relatively simple to identify the snippet of every search entry, not all schemas are made the same with the following as common examples of schemas you may have seen while browsing the Internet: Product Schema The most common type of schema is the product schema. Product schema can be for any offered product/service and are basically one of the broadest categories of schema out there. Typically, when product schema markup is used, the search entry's snippet can reflect a number of details related to the product/service being sold, including but not limited to the price of the product, reviews, rating, and even more specific information such as the size of the product and the product's photos. Event Schema Event schema is a type of schema markup that identifies events from business conferences to stand-up comedy shows. One special feature about event schema is that its typical use is for events in the future and not necessarily for events that have already happened. Information that appears in the search entries snippet may include details such as the event's duration (start and end date), its location, and its ticketing. People Schema In utilizing people schema markup, additional information that may pop up in a search entry includes the name of the searched individual, their title and role, and their contact. While this may seem alarming, these schema markups are more commonly seen for well-known individuals and with the appropriate data present. Business Schema The rise of Google My Business and sites that aggregate business ratings such as Yelp, business schema markup helps in supporting your business's online coverage specially to search engine users. With typical business schema markup usage, you can expect to see relevant information such as your business's physical location, contact details, and logo. Do I Add Schema Markup to My Website? The examples in the section before are only just a sample of the type of schema markups you can incorporate for your website, you may be wondering now: how do I add schema markup to my website? Schema markups into your website's code may seem like an intimidating process as it may lead you to think that you have to dig into the code of the webpage and add the appropriate text/links. But thanks to resources and tools such as schema.org and Google's Structured Data Markup Helper, adding schema markups is a relatively simple process. With the help of these tools, you can easily select items types you want to tag and paste in the appropriate URLs—the rest of the work, which is adding the appropriate code, can be left to Google's Structured Data Markup Helper. When you implement the schema markups into your website's coding, the next important step is to check and make sure the schema actually works. If you're using Google's Structure Data Markup Helper, you don't need to go out of your way to find a separate schema checker as the tool will already have a way to test the schema markup for you. Considering the amount of time, it takes for schema markup to show the desired results in a search entry, not taking the proper steps to test your schema markups could lead to delays. Even worse, since search engines rank search entries based on how user-friendly it is, the detection of not functioning code could endanger your website's search engine ranking and in some cases, the website won't appear at all in the search engine results. Does Schema Affect SEO The question some individuals interested in including schema markup for their SEO strategy often ask is: what are the ways schema affects SEO? Schema markup does not directly cause a rise in your website's page views or on your website's traffic. There is currently no hard evidence showing that the implementation of microdata like schema markups can immediately and directly lead to such increases. Like any other SEO strategy employed, schema markup assists in making your website more user-friendly, therefore boosting its ranking up the search results page. The user-friendliness stems from the added snippet to your website's/webpage's search entry, which details important information that is useful to the search engine browser. In general, when individuals use search engine results, they are looking for the result that best matches their inquiry/needs—with more information available, this makes websites with a snippet draw more attention from search engine users. While there is no hard evidence to support a direct cause-and-correlation for schema markups and an increase in conversion, or the desired action you want visitors to your website to perform, there is data trend showing that websites that use schema markup tend to have more clicks. Like any other SEO tactic and when it comes to SEO in general, the results of set schema markup for your website are not immediate. Not only does it take time for your schema markup to reflect on your website's search engine results, but it's difficult to determine without a trend of data available whether or not a schema markup improves overall traffic for your website. That's why it's commonly suggested when testing schema markup to give it at least two months before deciding on continuing or discontinuing schema markup for your website or making adjustments to your website's schema markup. Why Use Schema Markup? The benefits to using schema markup aren't written in stone or laid out immediately—often it takes a degree of energy, time, and/or resources depending on who is doing the labor to install the schema markup and how long you are willing to wait and see the results generated in terms of webpage traffic or conversions. However, across the board, we noticed two great benefits from using schema markup: More Relevancy to Search Results The more relevant a search result can appeal to a search engine user's needs or query, the more of a chance that the user will click on the page or perform a desired action. Given the rise of SEO is also the rise of keywords—picking the perfect keywords is half the battle nowadays. Even with advances in search engine technology, search engines are geared for picking results that match the query it's given but don't necessarily excel at contextualizing the query. Consider this example: you have a search engine user who looks up Transformers. While Transformers seems specific enough of a search query, without context, it could point to a number of differing search result options. Does the search engine user mean Transformers movies? Transformers toy figures? Transformers fan club events? When it comes to webpages that use schema markup, the search engine will be able to bring up your website to queries that are more relevant to it, and your website will be able to be matched more accurately to a search engine user's needs, thus also reducing your website's bounce rate as well. Cost-Free You can technically pay a third-party to help install your schema markup, for those who are on a less flexible budget or would like to learn more on the go, one of the perks for schema markups is that they're free. The tools helpful for setting up schema markup such as Google's Structure Data Markup Helper are available to use without additional cost as well—simply have the webpage's URL or HTML ready and the Data Markup Helper can take things from there. It may be valuable to search for a schema example online.