In 2011 Google, Bing and Yahoo got together and created schema markup, part of schema.org, which is simply a “community activity with a mission to create, maintain and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet, web pages, in email messages and beyond.”
Although schema isn't the first thing that people learn about when honing search engine optimization skills, it’s an important tool if you want to increase page visibility and click-throughs. Because schema isn't the most popular or well-known SEO tool, not everybody is familiar with it. So we’ll show you what it is, why it’s important for SEO and how it can help your business.
Understanding Schema Markup and Why Context Is Crucial in Search Results
Schema markup is a type of microdata, which is an HTML specification that nests metadata within existing web content. It works by providing search engines with more detailed information about site content, and this allows the engines to better understand and better display the data. The main purpose of schema markup is to describe the content found on a website in order to create an enhanced description for display on a search engine result page.
The major difference between a regular description and one that’s been enhanced with schema markup is called the “rich snippet,” which includes the information contained in the yellow box. Not only does this description catch the eye, but it also provides vital information to potential visitors about what they’ll find on your site. Take a recipe for example. Without even clicking through, a visitor will already know the recipe rating, how long it will take to prepare, the calorie count and a brief description of the process.
One of the most important things schema markup can do for your business is provide context, and to understand why this is important it helps to look at an example. Let’s say you're a local farmer trying to promote in-season produce, so you have an entire page dedicated to squash.
To ensure your page doesn’t accidentally show up in a search about racket sports, you can use schema markup to provide the search engines with this important context, meaning you'll only show up in relevant search results. There are many different webpage types that can benefit from schema markup, including ones dedicated to:
Schema Has a Tangible Impact on Search Visibility
There isn't necessarily a direct link between schema markup and search rankings, but that doesn’t mean schema isn't worth your time and effort. In fact, quite the opposite is true: because schema is responsible for rich snippets, implementing the markup can make your site more noticeable and more visible on a SERP, and this translates to visitors seeing you instead of your competition.
Because schema provides context and clarification, it may also mean you show up in search results that you normally wouldn’t appear in. Going back to the squash farmer example, schema markup could mean you show up in a search for local fresh produce, while before using schema you’d only have appeared following certain keywords, such as farm.
Another great thing about this SEO tool is that not everybody’s using it yet, and currently just a little over 30 percent of websites use schema markup. This means you have a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor and take advantage of its benefits before everyone else begins using it.
Better Search Visibility Translates to Higher Click-Through Rates
There's one main reason why increased SERP visibility is desirable and important for SEO, and that is increased click-throughs. Websites with schema markup look different on a search engine result page than pages without schema, and this difference can catch the attention of the viewer who might not otherwise look at your result, especially if your ranking isn't great.
In fact, Blue Nile Research has found that people are actually more likely to click through on a rich-snippet result in position two or three than they are to click through on a snippet-free result in position one. This is particularly important if you don’t rank in the top five on a SERP, because nearly 70 percent of all clicks go to these top results. When your listing appears with a rich snippet your chances of being noticed are much higher, which means there's a greater chance that a visitor will click through.
And because the rich snippet provides detailed information about your site, it allows potential visitors to better gauge your relevance, which further increases click-through rates and gives you more opportunities to convert visitors into customers.
Getting the Best Results with Schema Markup
Schema isn't a one-size-fits-all process, and there are different ways you can markup the data on your site to produce different results and different rich snippets. The best way to know how your schema and rich snippets are performing is with A/B testing, because this will let you compare two schema versions at the same time to see which one performs best. Testing will ensure you get the most from this valuable SEO tool, and that means greater visibility and higher click-through rates.
Schema markup may not be the most well-known or most-used SEO, but it can have an enormous impact on your bottom line. Schema can mean greater visibility on a SERP, and this translates to more click-throughs and higher traffic, providing more opportunities to convert visitors into leads and leads into customers.
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