This post aims to help new SEOs learn the 411 on schema markup, and offer tips on how to implement it on your website if you’re not a coder. Read the post all the way through, or skip to the part you want help with.
- What is schema markup?
- How does schema markup help my website’s SEO?
- How many types of schema markup are there?
- Examples of schema markup in action — showcasing the competitive advantage
- How do I write schema markup for my website if I don’t know how to code?
- How do I implement schema markup on my website?
- How do I know if I implemented my schema markup correctly?
What is schema markup?
Schema markup refers to a piece of code that you can put on your website that will help search engine bots ‘understand’ the content within it better.
Often used interchangeably on the web with ‘structured data’, it is not the most accurate way to explain it to your colleagues or clients.
To be precise, schema is is a type of structured data. And for people who like analogies, I found this funny one on Reddit earlier today:
How does schema markup help my website’s SEO?
The end goal of implementing schema markup to your website is enhanced search engine result page listings (SERPs) — equating to a more engaging browsing experience for users — versus a boring regular search listing.
These enhanced search listings are called “rich results”, and can help your website stand out from the competition — increasing the quality and quantity of organic clicks it gets on Google.
Able to be applied to everything from brownie recipes to news articles and events, I encourage you to check out the complete list of the different types of rich results Google lets you optimize for here.
How many types of schema markup are there?
There are three types of schema that SEOs use — Microdata, RDFa, and JSON.
Microdata in my opinion is a bit of a headache, and RDFa is now depreciated. The universally preferred (and simplest) choice in 2020 is JSON.
Examples of schema markup in action – Showcasing the competitive advantage
Example 1: Neiman Marcus v. Nordstrom
Neiman Marcus uses ‘Organization’ and ‘SiteNavigationElement’ schema on its homepage to help Google make sense of the content on its website.
The results of the schema are a beautiful search bar and deep links to its top pages when users type “Neiman Marcus” into Google.
In contrast, Neiman Marcus’s competitor, Nordstrom does not have schema markup on its homepage. Its SERP listing for the query “Nordstrom” looks like this:
Example 2: Eventbrite v. Laugh Factory
Eventbrite uses ‘Event’ schema on its events pages to encourage Google to generate the kind of deep links we see below. Query typed in: “Laugh Factory Los Angeles Events”:
In contrast, the venue hosting the event, Laugh Factory, does not have any schema implemented on its events page — resulting in its SERP listing to look much more sparse. See results for the same query, “Laugh Factory Los Angeles Events”:
Example #3: Sony v. Beats By Dre
Sony uses Product schema on its product pages to improve their SERP listing appearance. When users type “Sony MDR Headphones” into Google, they can see the star rating, number of reviews, price, and specs for that product.
In contrast, Beats By Dre doesn’t have as helpful structured data on its product pages. When users type “Beats Solo3 Headphones” into Google, a more simple listing appears:
This is happening because the Beats website currently has an error and several warnings with its Product schema:
How do I write schema markup for my website if I don’t know how to code?
Fortunately, writing schema markup for websites its still fairly simple if you don’t know how to code.
And even if you do know how to code, the following solutions are a much more efficient way of getting it up on your site ASAP! 🙂
Schema.org has hundreds and copy and paste-able templates that you can fill in the blanks with your own business’s information. Try it here.
Merkle’s Schema Markup Generator
Merkle’s Schema Markup Generator tool is even simpler, however does not provide as many customizable options. I would go this route if you want it done fast.
Try it here.
Google Developers Hub
Like Schema.com, Google Developers Hub also has copy and paste-able schema templates you can use for your site.
Though it does not have as much customization as Schema.org, it offers the best illustrations of what each schema type looks like – which is a major plus. I would go this route if you want the most hand holding.
Try it here. (You’ll need to click through to the detail page.)
How do I implement schema markup on my website?
Google Tag Manager
Your schema markup can be implemented with Google Tag Manager by creating a ‘custom html’ tag to trigger on the page you want. This works great for SEOs who don’t have backend access to their clients’ CMS.
For more technical SEOs, you can also manually be injected in the <head> or <body> tag of your preferred page. Make sure to notate what this code is for if you aren’t the only one who makes changes.
Widgets / Plugins
Most CMS platforms have its own version of a widget or plugin that you can use to copy and paste your code into. This is the simplest option for new SEOs, though it will add extra weight to your site.
How do I know if I implemented my schema markup correctly?
There are two methods I use to test the accuracy of my schema code.
Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool
You can test the accuracy of your schema markup code using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Just copy and paste your URL or code into the box, and it will flag any errors. Try it here.
Structured Data Testing Tool Chrome Extension
When clicked, this little guy will tell you what types of structured data are on a webpage, and if there are any errors or warnings. You can download it here.
Schema markup is a great way to help your website stand out from its competitors, and wow users before they’ve even clicked through to your website.
If you have any questions about what we’ve reviewed in this post — or would like to request a follow up article going over something in more detail — let me know in the comments!
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SEO Lead at FOX Networks Group. Founder of TEKKI.digital blog. Contributing author at SearchEngineJournal.com.