What Schema.org?

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Google Bots, Crawlers, Spiders; different titles – same intention:

to identify your website’s credibility by crawling through it and measuring it against search engine standards. So you have probably heard about Schema, and you may ask yourself where does it fit into SEO? Well, Schema is one of the under-utilized SEO methods today you can use to ensure that your website ranks well with search engines.

There is a perception that it is difficult to grasp and implement. This is actually not the case at all!

What is Schema?

Schema in short is a framework that helps organize and interpret information into a structure, in this case the content on your website. All websites are generated from structured data, which is stored in databases. When this data is formatted into HTML, it becomes very difficult to recover the original structured data. On-page mark-up enables search engines to understand the information on web pages and provide richer search results in order to make it easier for users to find relevant information on the web.

For instance in the case of rich snippets, (snippets found underneath your search results) they tell you what your search is about before to enter the website. Schema works in more or less the same way except that it tells search engines what your data is all about and what it says.

Example of a Rich Snippet:

Example of a Rich Snippet

 Example of an event created using schema: Example of an event created using schema

How does Schema work?

Schema is a universally accepted mark-up language (google, yahoo and Microsoft) the helps search engines identify easily what the page is about, by providing web designers and content writers with a pre-defined set of classifications. Classifications such as places, people, organizations, etc.

Schema micro data* would be applied to the content of a page to point out what it is and how it should be used. What you’d do is add the Schema elements directly to the HTML code of a webpage to provide search engines with the necessary information in interpreting your data.

* Microdata is the new HTML5 feature that enables machine-readable data to be integrated in HTML documents. It basically helps computers understand what the contents of your webpage are saying.

It is of high importance that search engines to get direct access to the structured data (original data) in order to make to provide informative results to users.
Schema can be used to determine signals related to the following areas of your webpage:

  • The overall structure of your webpage
  • The content of the page
  • The publisher of the webpage.
  • Who the author of the blog post or article.
  • Multimedia objects found on the page such as; images, videos, infographics etc.

There are various ways in which you can make use of Schema. For example, in the event of a video it can provide the following information:

  • The video’s name.
  • Title of the video or its headline.
  • Where and when the video was taken.
  • Keywords associated with the video (SEO purposes).
  • Take a look at the target audience.
  • Stats on when the video was taken and published.
  • The video’s ownership (company name, address, nature).

It can be organized into types and each Schema has its own set of properties. For example for an “Organization” one would use items such as: Name, Address, Telephone, Email, Founder of the company etc. Another important factor is that they’re organized in a hierarchy. A video would be the perfect illustration.

Schema Video Hierarchy

  • Thing
  • > Creative Work
  • >> Media Object
  • >>> Video Object

The great thing about Schema is there is a mark-up of so many different types of content such as:

  • Articles
  • Local businesses
  • Eatery places
  • TV episodes and ratings
  • Book and movies reviews
  • Software apps
  • Products
  • Events

You probably would like to know how you would go about setting up Schema. It’s quite simple really, you’d basically go through these steps:

Steps in getting started with Schema

  1. Go to Google’s Structured URL Helper .
  2. Select the type of data you plan on placing a mark-up.
  3. Paste the URL of the selected page or article you want to mark-up.
  4. Now highlight the type of elements to be marked-up (name of the article or post).
  5. Add other mark-up elements.
  6. Create the HTML.
  7. Once you’ve created the HTML, code will show on the side of your page. You will then add the schema into your webpage (becomes highlighted once you use it on Google).
  8. You can then use the Structured Data Testing Tool to find out how your page will look like once you’ve added the URL.

So why should you use Schema for SEO?

Schema is great for your SEO efforts for various reasons;

  • It will boost your click-through rate (the percentage of viewers who click on your ad or listing before getting to your results page.
  • It’ll certainly improve your SEO rankings. Because search engines are aware what your data is about, this will enable them to crawl through your data much quicker and faster.
  • With Google Authorship snippets you can increase your trust and authority online. With a Google+ post, people will identify with you more having seen your profile picture and the number of followers you have on Google+ will automatically select you as an expert in your field.
  • Your Google Author rankings will up your ratings with search engines as it is an algorithm. Google Authorship is an algorithm as well which means for every post you make on your Google+ page, it will be ranked for its visibility on the SERP.
  • Schema rankings work for Local SEO. Reviews and comments on your results page are regarded as local SEO and therefore majority of consumers will read and write reviews on your service offerings. The more reviews you get, the better your chances of ranking high with search engines.
  • It can give you a competitive edge. If your competitors have not picked up on using Schema for their SEO rankings, you’ll have that great advantage over them.

Businesses are still adopting the use of Schema in ranking with search engines. And though it can be tricky when it comes to understanding it and installation, in time the rewards can be great for your website’s online reputation and rankings.

Operating Schema needs some planning and analysing in what type of Schema mark-ups you’ll make use of. If you’re not clued up on HTML, then it would be best to get someone with some knowledge to add the mark-up for your site. The rewards are endless!

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