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Schema.org isn’t new. It has been around for just over five years. So why has it taken so many businesses this long to develop basic Schema.org markup for their websites? When it comes to determining the benefits of schema markup for local, national and international businesses, it’s important to assess your needs moving into 2017 and beyond.
How much does it impact rankings? How often does it increase click-through rates (CTR) in search? Let’s dive into Schema.org best practices and the potential search engine optimization (SEO) benefits of Schema.org markup.
What Is Structured Data and Schema.org?
Schema.org (also known as Schema) is a set of standardized code that seeks to improve search engine result quality. Released in 2011, Schema.org was a joint effort between the largest search engines at the time, Google, Bing and Yahoo, to offer a standardized vocabulary that webmasters can use to denote the content of a web page. While Schema.org markup aims to provide a more profound message to search engines on what is on a page, it still lies with the user to implement on their page.
While Schema.org is the framework, structured data is the physical pairing of the Schema.org markup with the values from the page. We will be using the terms Schema.org, schema and structured data throughout the remainder of the article, so it’s important to know the distinction.
What is Schema Markup?
While Schema.org is the framework or the language you’ll use, and structured data is the content of your schema, schema markup is the process of developing and writing the schema for your web page. Schema markup is the common term used when discussing Schema.org because it is the widely know process of attributing your structured data to your content.
There are many languages you can use in your schema markup:
- Microdata - HTML markup used to insert metadata within existing content on your web page.
- RDFa - Linked data within HTML5 markup.
Choosing the right markup language for you and your business depends on how efficiently you can work with your development team or within the content editing section of your website.
What are the SEO Benefits of Schema Markup?
While schema markup doesn’t have any direct SEO benefits, it does indirectly impact the SEO health of your website. Schema markup will help you tell Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex the exact content of your site, giving them a better opportunity to serve your content to the right users. Once your content appears in search engine result pages (SERPs), schema works to customize your SERP information and increase the quality of your snippets.
Why is Schema.org Markup Important to My Website?
When properly implemented, schema markup can make an incredible impact on any site. Schema can do two things for your site’s content:
- Schema can lead to the generation of rich snippets in SERPs. These rich snippets can increase the CTR from organic search results by a staggering amount.
- Schema provides more accurate information to search engines to improve their understanding and indexing of your website’s content.
Each of these opportunities allows you to increase the visibility and appeal of your content in organic search results pages. Couple this with strong keyword research and usage throughout your content and you have a recipe for highly relevant and appealing content.
SEO Best Practices for Schema in 2017 and Beyond
While Schema.org is continually being updated, maintaining a healthy schema markup across your website can be easy. Abiding by best practices and writing complete and informational schema from the start can set your site up for future success. To get you and your business started, here are six Schema.org best practices that will help you in the future.
1. Site-Wide Schema Isn't Going to Cut it in 2017
In the past, it was common practice to implement one piece of site-wide schema that covers everything about that the particular website. Focusing heavily on the ease of implementation, this method gave search engines the necessary information while not negatively impacting sites. In 2017, this won’t be good enough.
While it’s important to include your site-wide organization schema whenever you mention your name, address and phone number, page-specific schema will start to take over in 2017 (if it hasn’t already). Providing search engines with all the information on what is on each page can only help your website. Whether it’s product schema for your e-commerce items, service schema covering your business’ services, event schema to encompass your upcoming events or article schema to provide information about your recent blog article, the more accurate information you can provide, the better.
2. Always Implement Article Schema on Your Blogs
Article schema has become some of the most powerful pieces of schema you can implement on your website. You can directly tell Google, Bing and Yahoo exactly what your blog or press release is about. Citing awards, related links or images and even sourcing the author can give your audience all the more reason to pick your web page over the next one on a search engine results page.
3. Update Your Schema as Information and Pages Change
Websites are living and breathing things. Well, not really; but they’re always changing. You work hard to keep your website relevant, so take time to update your schema as your pages change. Going through a rebranding? Update your schema. Repositioning a product in your market? Update your schema.
It’s easy to let schema updates slip to the back burner, but providing the incorrect information for your product or services would be detrimental to any business. Always make sure it is reflective of the page it’s on for the best results.
4. Stay Up-to-Date on Blogs and Release Notes from Schema.org
Keeping track of changelogs can be a hassle for any platform. Luckily, Schema.org makes it simple with a comprehensive blog covering all the impacts of recent updates and changes. Visit as often as you can be sure your schema is future-ready.
5. Always Think Beyond Your NAP
Your NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) is essential to your business. In 99 percent of cases, it’s how your customers find you, how your sales team finds leads and how Google finds your offices. Keeping it accurate is essential, but should it be the only schema on your website?
There are 10 archetypes of schema that can be divided into hundreds, maybe thousands of subtypes. Schema.org is constantly providing new and innovative ways to cover the broad range of products and services that a business can provide. Take a look through the different schemas on Schema.org, and you will find something that fits your business.
6. Test and Validate Your Schema
No one writes the perfect piece of schema that is unique to their web page on their first try. So treat your schema markup just like any content on your website, edit and test it. Utilize schema.org for your schema ideas and when you’ve written your schema, utilize Google’s free Structured Data Testing Tool to validate your schema and see what it will look like to search engines.
If you’re having trouble validating your schema markup and returning no errors, Blue Compass’ dedicated team is here if you need help!
How is Schema Markup Beneficial for Different Businesses?
Every business can benefit from implementing schema. Whether it’s a local business looking to solidify its first brick and mortar location or an international business trying to differentiate among its locations across the globe, schema markup can work.
Schema.org markup is an incredible way to interact directly with the search engines of the internet, so take the opportunity to give them all the information a potential user might need to choose your site over another.
Want to Put Schema Markup to Work for Your Business?
At Blue Compass, our Des Moines SEO experts utilize many tools to make sure websites are performing at their best. If you have questions about implementing schema or need help to get it up and running on your website, contact us today!