Everyone at least knows what SEO is, but when I say Schema Markup or structured data as it is also known almost nobody gets it. I don’t want to get too technical and I am far from what I would consider an SEO expert. But I knew early on that SEO is important if you ever want to get your website ranked. This is a brief beginner’s tutorial on Schema Markup what it is and how to use it to help your website rank.
What is schema markup?
The dictionary defines schema as “a representation of a plan or theory in the form of an outline or model”. How does this obscure word apply to search engine optimization? Schema.org was launched in 2011 by Google and Bing the two biggest search engines to support a common set of schemas for structured data on the internet. Now we need to know what structured data markup actually means. In a nutshell, structured data is a language not unlike HTML, It is a shared vocabulary to structured metadata on websites to help search engines understand the published content on web pages. If a light bulb just went off over your head you know I am talking about Search Engine Optimization.
Where is structured data on my website?
All these things are going on behind the scenes on a web page meaning no one sees it unless they are viewing the page source code. Here is a good example of what we are talking about here displayed as source code.
This first line is telling the search engines the title of this post is “SEO For Dummies A Beginners Guide to SEO” This is the title you will see displayed on a search engine results page (SERP).
<title>SEO For Dummies A Beginners Guide To SEO | Market Pros International</title>
This second line is telling the search engines this is the description and the content is the short blurb aka metadata and snippet you see below the title on a SERP
<meta name=”description” content=”You hear about SEO, and you read about it, but honestly
This third line is telling the search engines not to index the content. This is because the post is not yet ready to be published.
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, follow” />
This fourth line is telling the search engines the content is in English US.
<meta property=”og:locale” content=”en_US” />
And this fifth line is telling the search engines the content is an article
<meta property=”og:type” content=”article” />
Schema Markup can also be used to tell search engines each part of a page. For example, say I want to identify the contact section of a page so it would be done as follows.
This can go on and on depending on the content, but I think you get the point of how it actually works. Simply put it is like a birth certificate for all posts. This allows the search engines to quickly understand, organize, or index these pages and or parts of these pages in their database. Most importantly it makes the job easy and faster for search engines. Visit Google to learn more understand how structured data works.
Things you need to know and forget
Schema.org, as I said before, is a collaborative founded by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex to create maintain and promote schemas for structured data. Schema.org vocabulary can be used with many encodings including JSON-LD, Microdata, and RDF just to name a few. It is already used all over the web today so it is best to get an idea about what it is, does, and how to use it.
To view their website Schema on the surface seems very complex, and learning all the terms is simply impossible since there are many thousands. The good part is you do not need to know all of these terms. I will explain later on and I will be referring to schema.org quite a bit so keep a bookmark for it.
Types of structured data everyone uses.
There are several types of structured data in use today. The main one Google uses is JSON-LD. See below courtesy of Google.
Google recommends JSON-LD and since that is by far the most popular search engine we will focus on that.
1.Common schema Markup terms.
It is not extremely important to know all the terms but it is best to know the most common 2 or 3 terms.
- itemscope is probably the most commonly used schema term. It is basically used to organize content by the topic and telling search engines all the content marked with this tag is about the same topic.schema.org uses the following example to explain itemscope visually.
By adding itemscope you are specifying the content between the <div itemscope> and </div> are all about the same item or topic as seen below.
And the search engines will know that all the content is about one thing and file it that way.
- Itemtype tells the search engines what the item is in the itemscope subject. This way the search engine would not just know it is one subject, but what the item is within the subject as is displayed here n this example.
In this example, it is telling search engines the item within the div is actually a movie.
- Itemprop tells the search engine about the item and gives more properties. In the subject below it adds the actors, director and even the genre.
And by adding more key information the search engines can better organize the content.
2. Structured Data Guidelines
There are guidelines from both Google and Bing and I will give you the links in a second. We focus on Google because Google is the big guy at the end of the day. Now Google has its own set of rules and we have to live by their guidelines so follow them religiously.
How to add structured data to your website.
There are several different ways you can add structured data to your website.
- The first one Yoast is the least trouble and that uses a simple plugin for a WordPress site.
- The second is to use Google’s structured data markup helper.
- The last is only for those that are brave and very technical and actually choose to write the code themselves. I can assure you I am not that guy.
WordPress plugins for structured data
Yoast. Is a good plugin and does basic schema on your website in addition to helping you through the entire SEO process. I would point out that is has many limitations but is very good for a beginner.
Magazine 3 Schema and Structured Data for Word Press. Is a very good plug-in and very detailed, but there is a learning curve and it requires some technical ability. You can gain some really great help on using it in Youtube tutorials.
Google Structured Date Helper
If you don’t have WordPress and many do not, then you are going to need to use the Google Structured Data Markup Helper tool. The tool is very straight forward but roll up your sleeves. Once again I would suggest a youtube tutorial on using it. They will walk you through step by step.
In conclusion, adding Schema Markup is going to help your website get found and speed up it’s ranking. The first step is simply trying and learn as you go. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Believe it or not, we are only one email or free phone call away. If you are looking for a top schema markup expert, we are only a phone call away.