In building your set of marketing tools, don’t limit yourself to the things that are fast and easy. One of the most misunderstood tools in digital marketing is schema markup. Schema markup for SEO is a powerful marketing tool. I have a couple of theories on why marketers are missing out on this valuable SEO technique.
- Marketers are unfamiliar with some of the terms, causing them to feel like it’s a strategy that’s just out of their league.
- Marketers feel that setting up schema markup is more of a developer’s job because they’re more familiar with coding.
While it pays to be somewhat familiar with coding, the program at schema.org does most of the work for you as a structured data markup helper. If you’re ready to venture outside the box, schemas can organize your content in an informative way, attracting internet searchers to your site.
What Is Schema Markup and Why Is It Important?
Over 10 million sites use schema markups to enhance their SEO efforts. The top search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex first started collaborating on the development of schema.org in 2011. Now those same search engines are using schema markups to create rich, extensible user experiences. Schema markups give context to the content for non-human readers as in search engines.
Schema markup for SEO is a code that can be used with three systems:
Schema markups respond well to machine learning artificial intelligence systems like RankBrain and Hummingbird. Machine learning is a digital process where computers learn what to do next from things that have already happened, rather than people telling computers what to do. RankBrain is part of Google’s overall search algorithm, which sorts through billions of pages and selects the most relevant sites for various searches. Google implemented Hummingbird in 2013 which is also part of their algorithm. Hummingbird is designed to pay attention to each word in a query to get the whole meaning and direct searches to sites in the fastest, most precise way.
When you add schema markups to a webpage, it automatically crafts beautiful, well-organized content in the search results, which is commonly known as a rich snippet. The result will rank well in RankBrain and Hummingbird.
One of the great things about schema markups for marketers is that you don’t need to know coding to use it as part of your overall marketing plan. I have found that it helps to have somewhat of familiarity with what goes into schema markups.
That’s all you need to get started. When you’re ready, go to schema.org and they’ll walk you through the process.
Different Types of Schemas to Enhance Different Types of Products
To better understand schema markups, it helps to put yourself in the internet searcher’s shoes. For example, let’s say you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing salad recipe for your upcoming Fourth of July barbecue. Things that might be important to you are ratings—you want your guests to love it! You’ll want to know what ingredients you’ll need to buy, how long it takes to make, and how easy it is to prepare. Would you choose a recipe that had all that information in the search result over another result that told you very little about the recipe? Of course, you would. That’s how schema markups work.
The first step in setting up a schema markup is to identify the itemtype. Here are some of the most common schema types:
Schema Markup Format
You’ll need a bit of help from a developer if you’re using microdata or RDFa formats. With JSON-LD, you can do it yourself. Copy and paste the markup provided by Google for the correct item type, and then build on it as you like.
Use the markup to update the information with the relevant information about your business or website. After you’ve completed your markup, you’ll want to view it as it will appear in search engines. You can do this by dropping your JSON markup into the Structured Data Tool by Google. The tool will highlight any errors in the code, so you can fix them before you publish the schema markup on your site.
I can offer you this helpful tip—if you get an error message, it’s almost always related to one of the following three factors:
- Missing a comma-(,)
- Missing a square bracket-(])
- Missing a brace-(})
Use commas for listed items in your markup. You don’t need a comma for the last item in any list.
Braces are those wiggly brackets. Use them when you’re ending or beginning a list. You will also use braces for nested lists of properties like the separate parts of an address. You’ll also use braces to wrap your whole schema in.
Use square brackets to enclose lists of values. A good example of this is if you’re listing your business’ hours of operation. Enclose the days of the week that you’re open in square brackets.
Once you’re sure that your schema markup is complete, you can ask your developer to upload it directly into of the HTML of your site. If you’re using JSON, you can add it yourself using Google Tag Manager.
If you’re not using schema markups, it’s worth stepping out of your comfort zone and giving it a try. Schema markups are sure to take your marketing strategy to the next level.