An advancement in the world of SEO is the use of a code known as Schema Markup, developed by a collaborative community called Schema.org.  A form of optimisation, the aim of it is to help search engines work out what the data on a webpage means, rather than just reading it. This leads to a more effective way of displaying your site on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Schema.org

Schema.org is a collaboration between Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Yandex to provide a markup language supported by all major search engines. It is essentially a community who have the combined objective of improving the web by helping search engines to better understand the information on a webpage, in order to provide richer and more informative results.

Rich Snippets

Rich snippets are a type of structured data markup that can be added to the HTML of a site. In more simple terms, they are the enhanced bits of text and information which are displayed under search results. Given that they will be the first thing seen by the user on an SERP, they play a crucial role in terms of SEO.  An effective rich snippet is not only likely to rank higher but it will also generate a higher click-through rate.

Rich Snippet example

The example above shows an example of a rich snippet – it stands out from the SERP because of the addition of a star-rating and number of votes. In order to display the search result in this format, schema markup has been applied to the webpage.

Why use schema markup?

Schema markup enables the search engines to better read and understand a webpage. The idea is that you can use schema markup to tell the search engine which part of the article is the title, author, image, etc. For example, if the words ‘Simon Ensor’ appear on a webpage, without schema markup the search engine will not know that he is the author of the page. With schema markup, the search engine will be able to allocate ‘Simon Ensor’ as the author and will consequently be able to provide better search engine results with this additional information, particularly for anyone searching specifically for ‘Simon Ensor’.

Schema markup can currently be applied to the following categories:

  • Articles
  • Local businesses
  • Restaurants
  • TV Episodes with Ratings
  • Book Reviews
  • Movies
  • Software Applications
  • Events
  • Products
  • TV Episodes

 

Although there is no direct evidence that search engines use markup as a ranking signal, there are nevertheless numerous SEO benefits, especially in terms of improving user experience. Refining the look of your rich snippets will increase click-through rates by offering a well thought-out sneak preview and more useful information.  Furthermore, one study concluded that websites which make use of schema markup rank an average of four positions higher in the SERPs. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that other factors may have been at play in this study, therefore the evidence is not necessarily definitive. Nevertheless, it is really important that you are implementing schema markup on your webpages if you intend to bolster your SEO efforts.

How to implement schema markup

It is possible to implement schema markup manually using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper. This tool enables you to apply markup to your webpage and create an HTML to input into your CMS or source code. However, if talk of code and HTML sends you into meltdown then you’ll be pleased to know that there is a more straightforward method.

There are various plugins available that will enable you to apply schema markup to your webpages and hence create great rich snippets. Our favourite is All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets as it covers all functions and is super easy to use. Simply install the plugin, activate it and then fill out the form when you post a page or post:

Rich Snippet plugin YB

Once the markup has been applied, we recommend testing the URL to ensure that it has worked correctly. The best way to do this is using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Copy and paste the URL into the ‘Fetch URL’ box and click ‘Run Test’; the results will then flag any errors with your structured data markup.

Summary

Given that schema markup is such a straightforward way of boosting SEO, an unbelievably small number of websites are making use of it. The fact that all the major search engines are involved in Schema.org makes it a validated, effective and recognised method of improving usability and therefore SEO. For more information or help with your SEO campaign, speak to one of our experts here at Yellowball.