As Google’s search algorithm gets more advanced, it’s only natural that the methods you use to optimize your site need to become more advanced as well. One tool that is extremely powerful, yet vastly underutilized, is Schema.org Structured Data, primarily referred to as “Schema.”
What is Schema?
Schema is a structured data vocabulary that allows you add descriptive microdata to a web page’s html. Confused? In a nutshell, Schema lets you "tag" popular types of content so all of the major search engines (including Google, Bing and Yahoo) have a better idea of what you're talking about. For example, you can use Schema to specifically tell a search engine that certain content on your website is a(n):
- Creative work, like a book, movie, music, recipe, TV show
- Place, like a local businesses or restaurants
To give you a better idea how Schema can help search engines understand your content better, let’s start with a simple example using RDFa.
Let’s say you have a blog and you want to write an article about Kiwi Creative. Your title in the html would look something like:
<h1>Why Kiwi is the Best!</h1>
The problem? The word “kiwi” can be used to describe different things. You could be referring to the flightless bird native to New Zealand or the oh-so delicious fruit, but in this case you’re writing about the awesome creative agency based in Strongsville, Ohio.
To be fair, Google and other search engines would scan the entire article and hopefully figure out you’re talking about Kiwi Creative. However, you can avoid any potential confusion with a little Schema markup. To identify Kiwi Creative as a local business, you would use the LocalBusiness type; and, because the only information I’m presenting is Kiwi’s name, you would only use the name property.
<h1>Why <span vocab=”http://schema.org/” typeof=”LocalBusiness”><span property=”name”>Kiwi</span></span> is the Best!</h1>
Now when a search engine crawls this page, it will know you are talking about a local business named Kiwi and not any other type of kiwi!
How to Use Schema On Your Website
If you have basic knowledge of HTML, you can get started adding Schema to your website or blog right away. Luckily, Google has provided a very helpful tool, Structured Data Markup Helper, which will actually create the markup for the most commonly used data types.
- Select your data type.
- Enter the web page’s URL or simply copy and paste your HTML.
- Click the blue "Start Tagging" button.
- Highlight the sections on your web page you would like to add markup to.
- Select what properties the highlighted information is describing. (So if you highlight your companies street address, you would select Address > Street Address)
- Click the red "Create HTML" button.
- Copy the HTML directly or simply use as a reference when adding the markup to your website.
- Validate your Schema by visiting Google's Structured Data Testing Tool.
- Enter the page’s URL or you can copy/paste your HTML code…the testing tool will let you know if it's valid (or, if not, what is incorrect).
Schema + SEO
I do want to clarify that as of now (late 2015), Google and other search engines are not technically factoring structured data into their ranking algorithm. So adding Schema will not necessarily raise your ranking today, however Google has recently hinted that structured data will likely be a part of future algorithm updates. Get ahead of the SEO game and add Schema to your website today!