Schema is the universal language used to communicate with search engines, and if your web developer is fluent in it, your website’s rankings are going to benefit from their easy-flowing conversation.
We’ve previously featured Schema as one of 2019’s most important on-site SEO strategies for optimising your webpages. But what exactly is this relatively new form of website optimisation, how you can get it on your website and what kind of SEO benefits does it bring?
How to win at Search Engines - and influence them
Websites might appear to be mainly visual, with their bold and interactive effects, but they’re built predominantly through language. These languages (or types of coding) all work together to create the different elements of a website, defining how it looks and functions.
HTML is the building block language of any webpage yet search engines aren’t always able to get the information they need from this type of coding. For instance, HTML can tell search engines that a piece of text is bold and blue, but it can’t tell them that it’s a product listing or a review. This can cause you to lose out on opportunities to rank well for search terms relevant to your website’s content.
That’s where Schema comes in.
What is Schema?
Schema is a language system or “markup” that can be added around a website’s HTML in the form of code. This coding is made up of descriptive tags which explicitly tell search engines what the page’s content is about.
Tags can be added to each element of your website to describe exactly what it is, telling search engines things like, "this is a postcode in Kent" or "this is a product review." Search engines love these explicit descriptions as they no longer need to rely on guesswork to decipher meaning from normal HTML code.
But here’s the catch - web developers can’t just make up their own types of markup (or they can give it a go, but search engines won’t be able to read it!) There’s a universally-agreed list of tags that must be used to make sure a website is as readable, indexable and rankable as possible. Schema is one such language - and it’s the most common and most recommended one to use, created by the major search engine giants, Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Common Schema Types
There are several different types of Schema markup out there, the most popular being JSON-LD, Microdata and RFda. These are basically “dialects” of the Schema language, all doing the same job of better describing content for search engines.
At Bigger Picture, we’re big fans of JSON-LD. Not only is it Google’s recommended Schema type, it’s also much easier to implement. JSON-LD markup can quickly be added to a website’s HTML via a CMS in the style of meta data. It’s a lot faster and easier to do than the tricky process needed to wrap other Schema types around HTML elements.
Why implement Schema for SEO?
Schema is a fantastic addition to the SEO toolbox and, when implemented correctly, can give your website a powerful optimisation boost. Here’s how.
Improved Search Engine Ranking
As we’ve pointed out already, websites using Schema markup usually rank higher in search engine results than those without it. Some studies suggest that this can be up to four positions higher! Of course, Schema isn’t a magic elixir, so you aren’t likely to see these kinds of results from implementing it alone. Yet, when paired with other SEO practices, you can definitely expect to see some powerful results.
Improved Click-Through Rates
Because of the additional information provided through Schema tags, search engines can pull the most relevant bits from your website directly into their search results page – usually in the form of rich snippets. These are organic search results with additional information like a website’s search box, reviews or limited-time offers, and they really stand out from other, regular search results. They usually have a much higher click-through rate too which will, over time, improve your website’s organic ranking as search engines notice people choose your page above others.
Higher Quality Traffic
Thanks to rich snippets, traffic coming to your website is likely to be more relevant. People searching online can see all the key information on your page before clicking the link, effectively filtering out those who aren’t going to be interested in the content. Higher-quality traffic means people are more likely to spend longer on your website and be more interested in what you have to offer.
Capture Voice Searches
There are lots of statistics out there highlighting the rise (and future domination) of voice search. By 2020, 50% of all searches are predicted to come via voice. We’re already starting to witness this surge as people use digital assistants, like Apple’s Siri, to find addresses for their appointments or recipes for their dinner. Search engines automatically make Schema’s descriptive tags “searchable” by digital assistants, so these voice searches don’t fall through the cracks and miss out on finding your website.
Schema in Action
So, who can benefit from using Schema on their website and what kind of things can it actually be used for out in the world? Here are some examples of Schema in action!
Schema can give your local SEO a boost by making your website easier to find in local search results. Business can mark up all the finer details of their services, such as what they sell, where people can find them and how to reach them. People searching on-the-go for a specific service in their neighbourhood will value the ease of accessing all this information in one place, making them more likely to be won over and give you a call.
Schema markup can help show off your products with enhanced images, as well as prices, sales and offers, and those all-important reviews. Online shoppers are increasingly swayed by brand authority and peer opinion, so including those yellow stars in your search results can really help boost clicks and purchases.
Upcoming events can be promoted directly in search results thanks to Schema, including venue location and links directly to ticket sellers. This can be really useful for local SEO too, as Schema can help you rank for those vague yet popular “events near me” searches.
The additional information Schema markup provides helps search engines pull out the most relevant parts of your website, making the results more relevant, ranking your page higher and increasing click-through rate.
Right now, according to Searchmetrics, less than 1% of all websites are using Schema markup. With millions of websites missing out on the SEO benefits that Schema brings, you’ll have an instant advantage over your competitors.
If you’re ready to talk Schema, get in touch with our markup-fluent team for a chat!