Structured Data For SEO
Schema is a term that most have heard about but few understand. You’ve been told that it is important to SEO and may help you take advantage of highlighted page results such as the rich snippets you can find in Google Search. While articles may beat the importance of schema into your head, rarely do they give you a practical understanding of what it means or how to use it.
If you aren’t a technical person by nature and have a difficult time wrapping your head around structured data and specifically schema, don’t feel bad. Even a front-end engineer or technical SEO specialist will find it a challenge to discuss this topic in layman’s terms.
This article about schema is for us content marketers who prefer to be taught in a way that even a beginner can understand.
What is Schema Markup?
Let’s reiterate what schema is. Schema is HTML code that makes it easier for Google and other search engines to understand what your content is about. Each specific type of schema markup is a specific code that you place on your website. Once the code is placed, it allows a search engine to better process the page information and shows it to those searching in Google for the information you are delivering.
What is Schema Used For?
Schema and unique data markup have led to helpful features such as the rich snippet and improved local SEO details. It helps Google deliver a better product (search result) making user satisfaction increase. For example, you may be looking to find reviews about a specific company. Adding review structured data markup to your page gives Google a signal that it may be worth prioritizing this page over those with fewer signals about the page intent.
Of course, you can’t cheat the system here. Using structured data to falsely enhance your web page is only going to confuse Google and leave you worse off than when you started. Simply put, use SEO best practices when incorporating schema into your page.
Schema.org Structured Data
Thankfully, you won’t have to search endlessly for structured data. Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex have played nicely to bring you a centralized location where you can learn the inner workings of schema and HTML code for each schema type. Unfortunately, unless you are a very technical person, you may find that beyond the basic understanding schema.org provides, it can be tough to go from “I get it” to “I did it.”
Fortunately, there’s another way for those of us who like things plain and simple.
Before the explosion of WordPress, many website development solutions were created and hosted on individual URLs. In the case of Schema, it came through websites that offered a structured data markup helper. While these are still helpful tools, we now have plug-and-play solutions that automatically add the structured data to our page that’s most relevant.
Simply choose your page type from the installed drop-down bar and the schema markup generator goes to work. Here are a few options for plugins that
Recommended Schema Plugin Options
Yoast SEO: With a mission statement of “SEO for Everyone” it makes sense that Yoast would try to simplify the most complicated subject in SEO. The free Yoast plugin gives you access to many different page and organization schema markup types. Seems that the paid version offers the same options, but this may change in the future.
Schema Pro: If you are looking for a WordPress plugin that focuses specifically on schema, then you want WP Schema. This plugin offers a more robust solution and provides features that Yoast SEO doesn’t. It works synergistically with popular WordPress tools such as Elementor and the company even suggests that it works well with Yoast SEO.
Schema Plus (for Shopify): Plugins get a little pricier when you step away from WordPress. With that said, $14.99 a month may be a small price to pay to ensure your Shopify page can compete for top rankings, the knowledge graph, and rich snippets. Schema Plus was created by former Google engineers which to some may indicate that everything is built properly and will remain stable.
SEO,JSON-LD, Schema: This freemium plugin for Shopify has a title that looks more like a run-on sentence. However, with more reviews than Schema Plus, this schema plugin should also be considered. The reviews tell the story of a small business owner looking to make a big impact by providing great customer service.
Don’t have a WordPress or Shopify website? You can use the structured data markup helper from Technical SEO.
Read: 8 Structured Data Tools for Generating and Validating
Will Schema Improve Your Search Rankings?
Does schema matter or are we just majoring in minor things? This will depend upon the competitiveness of your industry. Without the proper use of structured data, specific more difficult SEO opportunities require no stone to be left unturned. Without adding structured markup, your search results are left to chance.
Understanding and including schema into your content marketing workflow could be a way to add a ranking factor that your competition is leaving out. Conversely, not including structured markup may leave you without a ranking factor that your competition’s web page will include.
If you are a smaller organization attempting to include schema without the ability to use a schema plugin, you may be creating more complexity and cost than it is worth. For now, it may be better to hold off on adding schema markup until you are at a point where you can more easily include it into your content strategy.
The Most Commonly Used Schemas
Now that you have the answer to “what is schema markup” and understand the right scenario for using it in a content strategy, let’s look at some of the more popular forms of schema markup code.
Article Schema Markup
It’s important to distinguish the difference between an article and a product or category page. Google may become confused if your website offers a product called creatine, has a category for creatine, and an article that is the ultimate guide to creatine. Having article schema on your page helps properly place this type of content in the Google search engine result.
Product Schema Markup
E-commerce is a competitive world and the number of page results for most product names and product categories makes it difficult to compete. To reduce the noise, you can include schema into your product pages that can increase its relevance and even lead to your product page looking like a standout thanks to Google rich results.
FAQ Schema Markup
Since Google is known as the place where you get your questions answered, it only makes sense that FAQ schema would be a common schema type. Your FAQ may be about a product or service but it can also be used to answer topical questions. Use schema to make sure your FAQ page is understood and as such, may end up in the highly desirable FAQ rich result spot.
Local Business Schema Markup
If you have a brick-n-mortar business or are an agency that works with them, you can use organization schema to let Google know that this website is a local business. On a page level, you can use local business schema to provide specific details about hours of operation, driving directions, and more. In conjunction with an optimized Google Business Profile, using relevant schema for a local business can be a recipe for success. Speaking of recipes…
Recipe Schema Markup
Searching for “chicken pot pie recipe” results in 229,000 pages. With this many results, you’ll need to do everything in your power to rank on the 1st page for this desired and delicious topic. Using recipe schema ensures that you are a part of the conversation but it also increases your chance of being displayed in the recipe-rich results which include guided recipes and the recipe host carousel.
Person Schema Markup
With Google placing more emphasis on E.A.T. (Expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) the author of your articles should be understood as both an expert and a real person. You can use person schema for your author bio pages as well as website content that shows off your team members.
What Schema Markups Have the Most Impact?
This ultimately depends on your specific industry, but generally speaking, the schema that’s associated with a rich result is the most impactful. Landing a rich result feature gives you the ability to stand out from the crowd that exists on the first page of Google.
What you should do now
When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:
- Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
- If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
- If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
Jason is an SEO and content marketing specialist currently leading the onboarding process for MarketMuse premium clients. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.