Schema. It’s a term you may have seen in your endeavors to enhance the SEO potential of your site, but you may not fully understand the term nor what it means within the framework of an SEO strategy.
Integrating schema into your SEO approach is a great way to help your site get found by search engine crawlers so that it ends up on your intended audience’s search engine results pages (SERPs). Schema is, in essence, a more specific context for search engines, but how does that context play into your SEO strategy? How does the schema directly connect to SEO? How are they different?
Here, we’ll explore just what schema is and its relationship to SEO as a whole to give you a broader understanding.
Schema is a much simpler concept than it may at first appear. It is a way of structuring your webpage’s data to better clarify its purpose and content for the search engines that will seek it out and rank it.
Page One Power defines schema as: “a form of data markup that you can include in your HTML to improve how a page is interpreted by search engine crawlers.” Using the HTML code within the webpage, schema structures a “rich snippet” through markup to give users a clear sampling of the page within underneath the title of your link on the SERP.
You can use schema to add publication data, a review rating, a brief snippet about your website, and much more with HTML markup. Schema lets you do it all, and you don’t even have to become a full stack developer to do it (though it would help). With only a limited understanding of HTML coding, you can better make your webpage work for you.
But first, there are some elements to schema that you should also understand.
The Difference Between Schema and Structured Data
“Structured data” is a term you may have also read that you feel covers the same process that schema does. This is mostly correct. Structured data is, more broadly, coding information to better contextualize your page. However, where schema is a term used to specifically indicate structured data for SEO purposes, the term “structured data” can act as more of an umbrella.
In short, there may be many reasons to contextualize your page’s data, but you’ll only use schema for SEO purposes.
Types of Schemas
Schema content can be added to a wide variety of webpages in a wide variety of ways. What you choose depends on the specifics of your site and goals, but there are three primary language types to consider when adding schema markup. These are:
- Microdata — allows you to add tags and place microdata with the content of a webpage.
- Resource Description Framework in Attributes (RDFa) — allows you to tag elements of a page to describe content like headers.
Regardless of the style in which you implement schema mark-up, these elements help you build a more SEO-friendly site, if not directly contributing to SEO rankings.
Schema’s Connection to SEO
Adding schema mark-up to your site isn’t something that can be said to have a direct connection with better rankings. The connection between schema and SEO is more one of comprehension and usability, which in turn can affect things like click-through rates. It is a component of organization and visibility on the internet, of comprehension and clarity.
By describing your site through HTML markup, you are communicating to both search engine crawlers and human users the nature and structure of your site. Often this can be more of a benefit to humans than search engines, but in a world in which bots and search engines are becoming more adaptive to human usability and comprehension, schema will likely grow in importance.
Take the recent evolution of voice search, for example. Localized searches have experienced a surge in which 58% were done by voice. Among those, 36% of the corresponding results came from sites using schema markup. Voice search and schema naturally go together because voice searches occur more conversationally than typed search, and schema provides the capacity for more human nuance.
As voice search becomes increasingly more common, so too will the need for adaptive search qualifiers that communicate in a more human capacity. Schema is exactly that and will continue to be useful in the humanization of search.
Using Schema for SEO: Best Practices
Integrating schema into your SEO approach does not need to be difficult. Helpful tools like Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper exist to make your life easier and give your site better context.
The process can be as simple as running your URL through the Google tool, tagging your content, then creating HTML that integrates your tags. Here are some best practices to keep in mind as you go along:
- Be specific
- The more markup the better
- Frequently update your schema
This simple integration of schema in your SEO strategy increases your potential for visibility and comprehension both by human users and search engine crawlers. In a world increasingly shifting towards voice and other forms of search, the small amount of time it will take to adapt your site with schema makes this integration highly worth it.
Every business person should add schema to their applicable web-development skill set, as the process is brief and useful. While schema integration may not make an immediate difference in your SEO ranking metrics, the long-term benefits of a better organized and contextualized site can help your customers find you.