Schema is an often overlooked website feature that you can take advantage of to supercharge your SEO. It gives Google much more detailed information about your content and who it may best serve.
Also known as Structured Data, schema, can be overwhelming and intimidating at first, especially to those not comfortable with writing code. But if you learn how to use it, it can give you an edge in the search rankings.
What is structured data?
To keep things simple, think of schema as a separate language that speaks directly to search engine spiders.
Back in 2011, Google, Yahoo! And Bing (with Yandex joining later that year) collaborated to create this language on Schema.org. Their mission was to “create, maintain and promote schemas for data on the internet”.
You can use schema to give Google and other search engines much more detail about your content and what queries it should rank for.
And since relevance in SEO is crucial, the more data you can give the more likely your result will show up for related searches, which is a gold mine of potential traffic and conversions.
How is structured data written?
There are several programming languages that schema can be written in: RDFa, JSON and Microdata are the three types you will encounter. Examples of all three markups can be found here.
They have their differences, pros and cons, but Google recommends JSON to create this data.
It will take time to learn how to manually write this language and understand the best practices recommended by Google. If you’re not technically inclined, you’ll want to hire a professional SEO to help you out.
How do I know if my website has schema already?
The easiest way to identify if your website already has schema on it, is to search the source code... if you know what you’re searching for.
If not, plug the URL you want to check into Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. This will crawl the page and identify any markup scripts that exist on the page. This tool will also flag any errors or warnings that exist on the page in relation to the markup.
You can also use this tool to test that any data added to a page is working as intended, without any errors or warnings.
Where should I place schema on my website?
You want to add the structured data code into the HTML of your website. Technically, it can go in any location of the page you’re editing, but it’s recommended to go as high as possible.
The <head> section is the most common place you’ll find data added and is often recommended. Though I have found this data added to both the <body> and <footer> tags.
The ability to edit the <head> section of pages will depend on the CMS you’re working on (WordPress, Shopify, etc). Some platforms also restrict editing the HTML, which makes adding schema more difficult or even impossible.
How can I create schema easily?
If you’re looking for a shortcut when manually creating schema, visit this tool and select what type of data you want to add.
You can fill out the relevant information and the tool will put the technical side of things together.
Copy and paste this into the HTML on your web page, give the page a test on the tool from Google above to check for any errors, and you’re done.
How can I easily add schema to my website?
If this tool and walkthrough has you feeling confused or nervous, you might have a simpler option available to you.
If you’re using WordPress, the plugins Yoast and Rank Math have automated options to add basic schema for you in just a few clicks. Keep in mind, you’ll have less control over what is added and how it appears to search engines, but it’s a good place to start if you’re a beginner.
There are options on other CMS platforms, like Shopify, too, but do your research before adding any plugins. Find out if there are any current issues and what the community is saying about it.
As with any site add-on, there can be issues that crop up over time due to updates. But this is the easiest way to get structured data added to a site.
Only add relevant markups
One thing to be aware of is that adding irrelevant markups that are misleading or incorrect can cause a manual action from Google. Meaning, rather than helping your SEO, the irrelevant schema are actually hurting your rankings.
Only add data that makes sense. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “more is better”. If the structured data doesn’t make sense, leave it out.
You can find a lot more information on what is allowed for each type of data markup on Schema.org.
If your website doesn’t have schema data on site, you’re leaving traffic on the table for your competition to snatch up. It’s a common, low hanging fruit I identify for many clients I work with and see great results by implementing it correctly.
This post was contributed by:
Ben McLaughlan is the founder of Easy Mode Media that focuses on improving SEO for businesses in the travel industry. He loves to help owners increase their long-term growth from organic traffic by results-driven action.
With over 60 countries explored, Ben is an avid traveler with no plans on settling in any one location anytime soon. You’ll find him exploring the Canadian Rocky Mountains or swimming near his hometown of Newcastle, Australia.