Schema Mark-ups for SEO
When it comes to SEO, there is no definite list of tactics that you can use to ensure you rank well. Instead “being good at SEO” incorporates many separate factors that are in need of constant review and adaptation to ensure you’re in the search engines’ good books. The usual tactics used include optimising meta data, keywords and content. However, if you want to fully succeed with your search engine optimisation efforts, you need to research into the little added extras.
Schema mark-ups aren’t a relatively new concept and have actually been around for several years. This being said, there are very few websites that actually take these mark-ups into account.
What is a Schema Mark-up?
Schema mark-ups may be well known to those working in web design as micro data referring semantic text to the search engine. To the average SEO consultant, it is basically text within the code of your website, which allows search engines to read the content on your page easier, thus ranking your site with more relevant search terms.
Schema.org is basically a huge database of relevant search categories and terms that you use within the mark-up in your code. At present, Schema.org is host to an extensive hierarchy of relevant terms that webmasters can implement into their existing HTML, enabling search engines to better categorise their content.
Let me give you an example:
If the text on the page was relative to the film industry, there is a range of schema mark-ups that could be used. Let’s say you mentioned “The Titanic” in your on-page text, Google may see this as either the hit film or the actual disaster. By putting an “itemtype=’movie’” tag in the code, you are stating that this text (titanic) is referring to the hit movie, and Google can then filter your page more relevantly in the search results.
Here is an example of the text being put into practice in the code of a webpage:
Above you can see that the webmaster has used the Schema.org mark-ups for a range of tags. Not only can these mark ups state whether the text is about The Titanic film or the real ship, it can also reference what text is a date, name, description and hundreds more.
It is also worth noting that there is a range of code attributes, for example:
- ‘Itemprop’ refers to a property of an item, i.e. the rating of a film or a specific actor (in which you would place around the element referencing the name or rating of the said item).
- ‘itemscope’ tells the search engine that all the text within the <div> block is about a specific item.
- ‘Itemtype’ is an attribute in which you can go into further detail explaining what the previously set out item (itemscope) actually is.
Schema.org has a more in detail explanation of the item attributes.
Search engines such as Google often find it difficult to properly interpret dates and addresses, due to the variances between how people refer to them. As you can probably figure out, by implementing schema mark-ups into your text for dates, addresses, descriptions and titles, you are basically telling Google exactly what your content is about, thus aiding its ever expanding semantic knowledge and making it easy to relevantly index your site.
In the example above, the content is referring to a film, made in May 2011, named “spinal tap” and it is about “one of the loudest bands ever”. As well as this, the “item” they are talking about is available via http://schema.org/movie.
How can this Affect SEO?
Including schema micro data into your HTML code helps search engines identify how relevant your content is. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if a search engine can easily crawl and index your site, you may seem more relevant, targeted search queries. In terms of actual rankings, there is no solid evidence suggesting that implementing schema mark-ups has a direct effect on your search rankings. However, this being said, using schema mark-ups can increase the effectiveness of your site’s rich snippets, in turn making your site more relevant in the SERPs.
Unless you have been hiding away in a cupboard for the past few years, you should be well clued up on what a rich snippet is and how it can help your brand in the SERPs. These snippets are designed to give an overall summary of a page, giving a clearer understanding to the user of what the site is about, and if concise and relevant, it can drastically improve the CTR of your site.
Schema mark-ups are a great way of helping search engines identify relevant snippets of information that should be displaying in the SERPs, such as using address and review tags (all explained on schema.org). Google provides a guide to generating strong rich snippets and builtvisible.com provides a great in detail guide on rich snippets if you would like to read more into it.
You don’t need to mark up every piece of text on your webpage to enable Google to index your site more easily, however it is worth mentioning that there is a certain amount of micro data mark-ups that need to be implemented before Google will look into adding a rich snippet to your page. I would suggest anything that is relevant to your target user, and might help search engines index your site more easily should have schema mark-up added onto it.