What is Schema Markup?

By: Michelle Law  | 08/26/2015


Did you know that less than 1% of all domains are using schema markup, yet Google already delivers schema-driven markups in nearly 37% of search results*? You're probably asking yourself, what the heck is schema markup and why do I care?  Let’s explore schema markup so you can have a basic understanding and debunk some of the most common misconceptions.
 

What is Schema Markup?

Schema markup is a vocabulary of HTML tags that can be added to enhance listings in search engines with more details. Search engines use the schema markup to better identify, categorize and understand your content. Schema markup tells search engines what your datameans, not just want it says. The end result is enhanced rich snippets underneath the page title in the search engine result pages (SERPs) like the example below.
 

 

Common Schema Markup Misconceptions

  • Google is using schema markup to build a massive database.
    • Schema.org, the website for schema markup, was created by a collaborative team composed of members from Google, Bing and Yahoo!. It was created to improve the user experience and allow searchers to find information easier, better and faster. So, while it does improve the product, it is all being done for the benefit of searchers.
  • Adding schema markup will automatically show richer snippets.
    • Implementing schema markup is not a guarantee that search engines will always show an enhanced SERPs listing. Search engines display rich snippets based on undisclosed algorithms that is not available to the public.
  • Adding schema markup will increase your searching rankings.
    • There is only correlative evidence that suggests schema markup improves rankings. The best approach is to think of it as expanding on your current listing and increasing the real estate for a better click-through rate. However, it is predicted to become a factor in future search engine algorithm updates.
  • Adding schema markup will increase my organic traffic.
    • While it is most likely that organic traffic can increase as a result of schema markup, it can also decrease. A decrease in organic traffic can be result of searchers acquiring the information they are seeking (i.e. price) right from the search engine results, rather than clicking through to your website. The best way to track this is to monitor incoming organic landing page traffic where the schema markup has been implemented.
  • Schema markup can only be implemented by those who understand the complex code.
    • You don’t need to learn any new coding skills. There are multiple implementations of schema markup, but using the microdata tags requires only a basic understanding of HTML code. RFDa or JSON-LD tags may require additional developer expertise.


So…Why use Schema Markup?

Now that the schema markup myths you have heard are exposed, you may be wondering, “Why is it worth my time?” The most obvious reason is to improve your search engine result listings’ click-through rate. However, there are several less outward reasons to implement.
  1. Search engines don’t use schema markup as a direct ranking factor now, but this could change in the future.
  2. It can also be assumed that as the schema vocabulary improves, rich snippet results will increase in prominence.
  3. It is predictable that several new entities will emerge using this new collection of data relationship context to their advantage and you don’t want to be left out (think: voice search, Silk).
  4. It is more than likely that your competitors are not currently implementing this tactic and it is one way you can differentiate your organization in search engine results.
Now that you have a basic understanding of schema markup, it is time to get started!  
 
*SearchMetrics http://pages.searchmetrics.com/rs/searchmetricsgmbh/images/Searchmetrics_Schemaorg_Study_2014.pdf

 

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