What is Schema Markup?

Schema.org has created a standard for data so search engines can understand what your page is about. This is a powerful tool you can use for your site’s SEO. Schema markup — also known as structured data markup — is metadata you can use to highlight content on a website to make it more visible in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). Google uses these to enable special search results features and enhancements. 

For instance, if you have the Recipe schema markup in your website, it will show rich snippets which could include the star rating for the recipe, the number of hours it takes to cook and a photo of the dish. Here’s an example of search results for the keyword “beef stew recipe”. The results of the rich snippets are showing under a Recipe heading in the first page of the SERP

Why Sites Need Schema

As seen in the example above, rich snippets are visually more prominent in search engine results pages. In competitive industries, sites that use schema are at an advantage because their results stand out from the rest. Taking the recipe example again, below is are two Google listings for the same keyword — one with the schema markup and another without it: 

When properly implemented, search results can get as much as a 30% increase in CTR. Search results with review stars alone, can get an improvement in clickthrough rates by as much as 35%. 

Schema Implementation

It is important to note that while Schema markup is worth doing because of its potential impact to your organic clickthrough rates, there is no guarantee that the rich results will show up. Here is a note from Google on this: 

That said, FIRST Digital recommends a 5-step approach for schema implementation: 

1. Decide what to markup

Take a look at your site. Are there elements that could be marked up? Blog posts, events pages, recipe sections and product pages are in our top list of pages for Schema markup. There are also some sitewide markups you can implement such as organization markup and breadcrumbs markup. 

2. Go to Schema.org and read the Google Guidelines

Find the available markup and their specific properties. Google also has guidelines for general structured data as well as for specific schema markup. 

3. Create JSON-LD markup

Once you’ve decided on what parts to markup, it’s time to get the code you need. You can go to Schema.org, copy the code there and adapt it to your specific website needs. You can also use a tool that Google provides called the Structured Data Markup Helper where you can select some of the most common markup and enter your URL to start tagging. 

4. Add the script to the site

Once you have your code, you can add the JSON-LD script to the page manually. Alternatively, you can use Google Tag Manager to add the script to your website. If you are doing this, you will need to convert the JSON-LD code as insert script for Google Tag Manager. There’s a specific tool that can help you with this called Yoast JSON+LD Script Helper

5. Test your implementation

You can test your script implementation using the Structured Data Testing Tool from Google. 

FIRST Digital also highly recommends monitoring your Google Search Console to see if there are issues that affect the rendering of your schema markup. Marked up elements usually show up under Enhancements. 

Common Mistakes

Three of the most common mistakes people make when implementing schema markup are as follows: 

  • Wrong syntax — if you use the wrong code for your schema markup, it will not be readable by Google and other search engines. 
  • Check that the bare minimum property requirements are met (https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/recipe)
  • Each item (property, value, arrays) need to be separated by a comma. Check for dangling commas at the end of the list of properties

Remember also to use recommended properties to drive better engagement in Search. Google guidelines would be the best place to find these recommended properties. 

Taking the Next Steps

Although it is fairly easy to implement, a lot of websites miss out on the potential to gain rich results in the SERPs. Google reports that less than a third of websites they’ve indexed use schema markup. 

If you need help auditing your existing schema markup or implementing it for the first time, get in touch with FIRST Digital