Schema, schema markup, structured data, rich snippets, microdata, JSON-LD: these are some of the terms that you may have heard recently in the SEO world.
In case you do not know what those terms are but want to learn more about them, this is the perfect blog post for it.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Schema markup or “schema” usually refers to a catalog of definitions that you can use to enhance a web page and its search engine result snippet with extra information, and quite often, a visual makeover.
In some cases, “schema” may just directly refer to schema.org, which is a project backed by all prominent search engines. On schema.org, you can find all the structured data markup that search engines support.
Imagine it as a library that contains large collections of different pieces of code (structured data).
Structured data is the code that you add to the web page. It refers to code in a specific format that search engines can understand. Search engine crawlers read that code to understand what a web page is about and then extract important information to display on the main SERP page for that web page’s listing.
While adding structured data to a web page can be a somewhat tedious and time-consuming process, it has several benefits. Let’s see some of the big benefits.
Here is an example of rich snippets.
As you can see, this rich snippet contains additional, contextual information about the web page. In this case, the web page is about a recipe, so the rich snippet contains relevant information, such as the overall rating of the recipe, the number of total votes, the time required to make this recipe, and the calories this recipe would contain.
In case you’re wondering, schema isn’t just for food-related websites. It can be used for a variety of web pages and content in numerous industries. Here are some of the examples:
No, structured data is not a search engine ranking signal. Google has officially confirmed that.
However, as we discussed earlier, it can have a significant indirect effect on your website’s search engine rankings, organic traffic, and user engagement metrics.
You can add structured data to your web pages:
Let’s discuss the third method in more detail.
This is how Google explains the functionality of this tool:
“Structured Data Markup Helper. The Structured Data Markup Helper helps you mark up elements on your web page so that Google can understand the data on the page.” It further adds, “Once Google understands your page data more clearly, it can be presented more attractively and in new ways in Google Search.”
Here is a brief step-by-step guide on how to use this wonderful tool.
Step 1. Sign in to Google Structured Data Markup Helper. You will see plenty of categories to choose from.
Step 2. Choose the most appropriate category for your web page. For example, choose ‘Book Reviews’ if your web page is about a book that you’re reviewing or choose ‘Articles’ if the web page is just about a book and doesn’t contain a review, rating, or score of the book.
Step 3. Copy the URL of your web page and paste it in the URL box at the bottom.
Step 4. Click the blue button that says ‘Start Tagging.’
Next, you will see your web page open in the Google tool with a few more options. Most importantly, you will see this section in the right sidebar.
Depending on your chosen category, you may see different options. This box contains ‘tags’ that you should use for adding information on your web page.
For example, highlight the name (title) of your article and select the ‘Name’ tag. You can do this for other tags as well, e.g., highlighting the publishing date of the page and selecting the tag ‘Date published’.
Step 5. Do this for all the elements on your web page that you wish to tag.
Step 6. Once you are done, click the ‘Create HTML’ button and export the code in the JSON-LD format.
Step 7. Copy the code and paste it into the head section of the web page.
Google has another tool, Structured Data Testing Tool, that you can use to test your web page and the validity of the structured data you just copied.
Just paste the URL of your web page and run the test.
The Structured Data Testing Tool will check for accuracy and provide a helpful survey of the extracted structured data. It will also help identify if there are any missing tags and structured data that you should add to your web page.
Adding structured data to your web pages is now considered a good SEO practice. The snippet of code helps search engines better understand the context of your web page. Moreover, it also helps create rich snippets to help search engine users find the right content and relevant information directly from the SERPs.