Much like the universe, the internet is constantly expanding and navigating through cyberspace is becoming more complex. This is also apparent in the world of search. Website schema markup is a SEO technique that helps search engines create a map of the billions of websites currently available. In the past, you only had to include specific keywords in your website copy for search engines to find and rank your page. The more keywords you used, the higher your site would rank in search results.
Things have changed since then and modern search engines now use sophisticated algorithms to determine if a website is relevant to a user’s query. It became necessary as you could easily manipulate search results by stuffing keywords into a website. User behavior also evolved over the last decade. Google studied these behavioral shifts and discovered modern internet users now prefer to use search terms based on micro-moments.
To provide users with relevant search results, companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Yandex worked together to develop Schema.org. It provides you with a library of terms that you can use to build context into your website’s source code. Using schema markup techniques, you can point out important information to search engines that are relevant to your website.
When a search engine visits your website, it uses this machine-readable information to create a rich snippet of the site’s content. Although this isn’t the only factor that influences your site’s ranking, it has become a best practice when building websites.
A rich snippet provides the search engine with a preview of your website’s industry, topics, and other metadata such as business hours or contact information. The better your schema markup information, the more context the search engine has when deciding where to rank your site.
Rich snippets have been around since 2009. When you search for something online, you no longer just see a webpage’s address and a brief description. Depending on how specific the search term is and if the page uses schema markup to provide structured data, you could see images, product prices, opening times, or map locations (among others). This additional information also increases click-through rates considerably.
Building a website with schema markup included requires you to add microdata into the source code. While the Hyper-Text Markup Language (HTML) tells a web browser how to display the content, microdata only speaks to search engines. Developers divide pages into sections and you can add microdata specific to that portion of the website. Search engines can then catalog all the information contained on the site accurately.
The Schema.org site provides you with detailed information about how to get started with adding microdata into your site. The vocabulary consists of types, properties, and enumerations. Schema.org built a framework that covers businesses, events, products, people, reviews, music, videos and more.
You add microdata to identify the type of section and then define the properties for the individual pieces of information it contains. As you have to add this to every section of every page, it can require a lot of effort.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommends using the Resource Description Framework for Attributes (RDFa) to add rich metadata to your website. It’s part of a drive to standardize the way websites and web-applications work throughout the world. W3C seeks to enforce more semantic development techniques and RDFa was a major addition to the HTML 5 release.
RDFa is an extension of HTML 5 that helps you markup structured data on your website. The syntax between Schema.org and W3C’s RDFa is slightly different, but W3C is now the international standard for schema markup. Even if you use W3C’s RDFa standard, you’ll still need to refer to the Schema.org library in your source code.
One of the benefits of using RDFa as your website schema markup standard is that it conforms to the guiding principles of data management and stewardship. These principles require data to be findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable. There are additional benefits to using RDFa such as improved web accessibility.
Google developed a tool to help you start marking up your website’s schema. The structured website markup helper is an easy to use tool that provides you with a user interface to tag the different elements on your website.
To start, you simply add your page’s URL and select the category of the webpage. Google will then scan the site and divide the sections for you to start tagging the different elements on the page. After you’re done, Google will provide you with the modified HTML code you can use on your site to include the metadata.
Firstly, schema markup ensures a search engine understands what your site actually contains. There are categories for articles, businesses, recipes, events, reviews, software applications, products, and many more. By providing this contextual information to a search engine, your site will rank higher in a specific category.
Imagine a user searches for a local toy company. A search engine will quickly find the right results using the schema markup information and display the most relevant pages. This drives click-through rates while also helping users find accurate information on the internet. If you want to find out more about how website schema markup affects your SEO, you can get in touch with Tactical Web Media to assist with further queries.