Structured Data 101: How Schema Markup Can Boost Your SEO

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You’re probably at your wit’s end with the endless, cutthroat digital marketing craze. With SEO agencies, businesses and influencers trying to snatch the first spot on the SERPs, thinking of new strategies to outshine them can feel a bit impossible.

Keyword research, link-building strategies, quality SEO content—you have exhausted all these Google-certified tips and want something new. And with this kind of competition, a top-ranking page isn’t enough; you must ensure people click on it through rich snippets of information.

How exactly do you achieve this? The answer is simple: you implement a schema markup. 

Unfortunately, it’s still considered to be one of the least utilised SEO ranking strategies due to its seemingly complex concept. The term may sound too technical even for seasoned digital marketers, especially when they’ve never encountered it before.

But understanding how it works can greatly boost your website in the search engine result pages (SERPs). With this SEO method, you have all the necessary information about your site arranged in an attractive knowledge panel. 

Let’s further discuss schema markup below, its benefits and how to use it to improve your SEO performance!

Getting Started: What Is Schema Markup?

Also known as structured data, schema markup refers to the language used by search engines like Google and Bing in understanding information on websites. In this context, language means a semantic vocabulary in microdata format that categorises and characterises website content pages.

In 2011, leading search engines like Yahoo, Bing and Google started a collaboration that launched schema.org. It’s rare for competitors to come together and kickstart an initiative, but creating universal markup to help search engines understand data changed things for the better. 

As of writing, there are three common formats of schema markups, such as:

  • JSON-LD
  • Microdata
  • RDFa

Although search engines have developed advanced algorithms in the past decade, they still don’t have the visual and intuitive skills that humans possess. They can’t interpret what pictures mean; they have to read them. 

For instance, if you see a list of ingredients and a set of instructions, you’d interpret it as a recipe. On the other hand, a search engine wouldn’t because it can only understand content through schema markups.

Let’s give you a visual example. When you search ‘Apple Pie by Grandma’ on Google, this is what you’ll see:

what is schema markup

Meanwhile, this is what search engine crawlers see:

schema markup for crawler

Source: Google Search Central

The structured data above labels every element included in the recipe. In this way, users can find your recipe by calorie count, cook time and ingredients, among other things. This is why schema markup is considered to be a user-focused improvement, helping people gain the information they need in seconds. 

Why Implementing Schema Markup Can Boost SEO

It’s normal to feel like you have accomplished so little despite investing so much time in SEO. The vast landscape of search results makes it more difficult for businesses and digital marketing agencies to improve online visibility—you’re not alone.

Leveraging schema markup can take your SEO performance to the next level. Even though it does not directly affect your ranking factor, it can boost your click-through rate and increase your conversion rate in the long run!

Let’s delve deeper into the benefits of schema markup below:

Improves Brand Presence Through a Knowledge Graph

Google’s Knowledge Graph is the big box on the right side of Google desktop searches. 

knowledge graph for SEO

It contains the most important business information that a customer should know such as its brief history, social accounts, phone numbers, headquarters and more. The catch is you have to make sure that the information about your company is accurate and up-to-date before Google displays it.

This is one of the reasons why schema markup cannot be simply reduced to a code. Once schema web is generated and implemented, it explains the relationship between the entities on your web page

As a result, it builds credibility, answers customer queries and increases potential website visits, to name a few.

Helps Search Engines Understand Your Content

Humans quickly understand a website’s content. However, search engines don’t. They have to teach themselves using machine learning and algorithm upgrades to grasp what a website is trying to communicate to its users. 

Sure, search engines might have a vague idea of your content, whether it covers recipes, e-commerce SEO or smartphone brands. But the problem is, despite the amount of data Google has, it’s still not 100% accurate.  

Through schema markup, you help them understand what your website is all about. It’s the best way to explicitly describe what’s posted on your platform like video descriptions, salary ranges and contact information. 

Keep in mind that search engines find it easier to interpret your page’s structured data. It helps them present users with search results that better match their search intent.

Attracts Job Applicants

If you’re an employer looking for qualified applicants, incorporating schema markup into job postings is extremely helpful. Once Google detects that structured data is applied to your job listing pages, they will be displayed at the top of the SERP. 

Take a look at this example: 

job listing schema markup

Google also feature reviews from former and current employees, company logo and job details if you make the cut. You get higher chances of receiving job applications!

Boosts Social Media Following

social media on SERP

The meteoric rise of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter paved the way for social media marketing. This encouraged businesses to bring their brands on these platforms to gain a wider audience, generate leads and build long-lasting connections.

If you want a new way to increase your social media following, you can mark up your social accounts through the SameAs schema. The same social icons will appear that will lead users to your pages or accounts. 

Lets You Stand Out In The SERP With Rich Results

Perhaps the ultimate benefit that comes with implementing schema markup is the chance to get rich results powered by schema and stand out from the crowd. Search engines, especially Google, aren’t just filled with plain blue links anymore. 

Search listings now come with ratings, product pricing, software apps and even a search box. And according to Search Engine Land, businesses can enjoy a 30% increase in CTR by using structured markup like Schema and Google Rich Snippets.

This doesn’t mean that you should use any schema markup you want just because you can! Make sure they are relevant to your webpage so they don’t appear spammy and random. 

Take a look at this example:

aggregate rating schema markup

With beneficial information like ratings and votes, you show potential customers that your company is trustworthy and an authority in your industry. 

To get started, you can check Google’s Structured Data Guidelines. Use the Structured Data Markup Helper tool to generate the required schema markup to get rich results on the SERPs.

Types of Schema Markups You Should Know

A lot of brands have implemented the wrong schema type and suffered from its adverse effects. Remember that schema is Google’s language, and when you inconsistently speak it, you’re making it harder for search engines to understand your content. 

Google might refuse to show your website on the SERPs due to its lack of confidence in the schema used. Your SEO rankings will be affected, and reverting the changes will take a huge chunk of your time.

To help you avoid this mistake, let’s discuss the most popular types of schema markups and when to use them:

Logo Markup

Logo markup informs Google of what your logo looks like. This type of schema ensures that an accurate logo representation is consistently displayed in the Google knowledge panel whenever users search for your company.

This is what it looks like:

logo schema markup

Local Business Schema Markup

The local business schema markup is the best type of schema for companies trying to improve their local SEO. Since it features the address, menu, contact information and opening hours, it helps customers find a company’s location within a business panel.

When implemented, this is how it appears:

local business schema markup

This markup can help increase local foot traffic and improve online visibility, giving you a competitive edge in the local market. 

In some cases, Google will pull out a local company’s information from their Google My Business listing to be displayed in rich results. Make sure your business has a properly set up profile to avoid errors in the process.

Sitelink Schema Markup

One of the best ways to take up more real estate in the SERPs and give users more options is to use sitelink schema markup. It adds navigational links to your listing that can be highly relevant to a user’s search query.

sitelink schema markup

It can also point users to the pages that generate the most conversions for your business. This includes the About Us page and service page categories.

Product Schema Markup

The product schema markup is mainly for e-commerce businesses, allowing them to sell items or services right on the SERPs.

product schema markup

It shows potential customers important information about your product in a carousel. Usually located on top of search results, you’ll see a product’s brand, price, rating and special promotions like free shipping.

And if your competitor doesn’t take advantage of the product markup, you can easily outrank them!

How To Use Schema Markup For SEO

We understand that the term ‘schema markup’ itself can already sound intimidating, especially if you don’t know anything about coding. However, you actually don’t need to consult a web developer to start implementing structured data on your website.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

Step # 1: Generate The Markup

If you like a bit of a challenge, you have the option to write schema markup yourself. But since there are a plethora of plugins available, you can save yourself the trouble—especially if you’re using WordPress. 

There are also markup generators online, including:

  • Google Structured Data Markup Helper
  • Schema Markup Generator By Merkle
  • RankRanger Schema Markup Generator
  • SearchBloom

These generators only cover the most basic markup. If you want something more advanced and specific for your goal, you need to adjust the code accordingly.

Another option you can consider is the manual markup. This is highly recommended if you can’t find the right type of markup in structured data generators.

You might find the code overwhelming at first, but you only need to tweak certain values in it. For this option, these are the two ways you can implement manual markup:

JSON-LD

Google’s John Mueller was asked about the search engine platform’s preferred structured data during a Webmaster Hangout. He answered that Google recommends JSON-LD since it’s easier to understand and deploy compared to Microdata and other outdated formats.

Here’s an example of JSON-LD code: 

JSON-LD code

Source: SEO PowerSuite

The script is simple, clearly communicating the following information to a search engine:

  • @context indicates the vocabulary (schema.org).
  • @type indicates the schema type being implemented.
  • author specifies the name of the person who wrote the article.
  • datePublished states the date when the article went live.
  • image states the link to the image of the article.

The JSON-LD code follows a basic code structure, making it the perfect choice for SEO beginners. You can also populate the code snippet with more properties. For instance, if you want to update the content, just add the property dateModified after the property datepublished.

Just a quick reminder: Make sure that every piece of information embedded in the code is visible to search engine crawlers and users. You will receive penalties if you add pages or pieces of content that can’t be found on your website. 

Microdata

Microdata is essentially the same as JSON-LD, except it’s formatted differently. It is only recommended if you’re targeting a specific search engine that doesn’t support JSON-LD, such as Yandex and DuckDuckGo. 

The code needs to be embedded straight into a website’s HTML, which makes it harder to edit and update when necessary. You can’t just simply add a single piece of code to the <head> of your page and call it a day. 

You have to individually mark each element within your HTML, for example:

microdata code

Source: Semrush

Step # 2: Test Your Code

Always test your markup code, especially if you’re not using a CMS or a plugin. Google offers easy-to-use and free testing tools like the structured data testing tool and the rich results tool. For this step, we recommend that you use the latter. 

schema markup testing tool

Enter a code snippet or a URL that you’d like to test. If the tool detects warnings, errors and detected structured data, it will show up on the right side of the screen: 

rich result test

The tool allows you to directly fix errors, edit your code and make all-around changes on the left portion of the page. Make sure that you click the ‘Run Test’ button found at the bottom to revalidate and apply the changes. 

You can also check out our free SEO audit to detect any schema markup issues on your site.

Step # 3: Deploy The Code

Depending on the tagging system and your website, how users deploy the code may vary. Let’s try using two implementation methods for different scenarios:

Using Google Tag Manager

Some web developers and SEO experts have stayed away from Google Tag Manager (GTM) when deploying schema markup due to its seemingly complicated methods. It was believed that Googlebot required JavaScript rendering to access it. 

However, Google has recognized GTM implementation as one of the officially supported methods for deploying schema markup. This is beneficial for marketers who are comfortable with this tool. 

This option will be much easier if you’re using GTM in managing your marketing technology stack. Just insert the generated schema as a custom HTML tag and configure the trigger based on a page view to specific pages.

Using a CMS And Plugins 

If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly way of deploying schema markup, using a CMS or plugins have you covered. 

Just remember that there are no plugins or CMS that will cover all the bases or do the rough work for you. You might be required to combine various implementation methods if you need a slightly advanced markup that structured data generators can’t pull off.

To keep you on track, let’s start with the most common WordPress SEO plugins for schema markup:

  • Rank Math

Out of all the WordPress SEO plugins available, Rank Math offers the most diverse schema options. In the plugin settings, you can easily configure basic schema markups such as Organization and Person. This plugin can also let you add schema to specific pages if you want a more advanced schema customisation.

To do this, navigate to a page, click the plugin button and select the schema type you want to add. Don’t forget to fill in the relevant information.

Here’s an example:

add schema markup using rankmath

Source: Ahrefs

  • Yoast

For organisation schema markup, Yoast is the best option. Open the Search Appearance Settings found under the General tab and fill in the required information.

Paste the links or page URLs to your social media pages and company profiles in the social settings. This includes Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, MySpace and Wikipedia, among others.

Click the ‘Save Changes’ button at the bottom of the page. Your organization will now be recognised as the author of your articles.

  • Schema & Structured Data for WP & AMP

Considered one of the most comprehensive freemium schema plugins for WordPress, this plugin supports more than 35 schema types like Local Business, Recipe, Product and more. 

You can use it in creating Google rich snippets for different types of content. It comes with an easy-to-use setting and plenty of features like:

  1. AMP compatible
  2. Easy to set up that comes with an installation wizard
  3. Conditional display options

For instance, you can use this plugin for VideoObject schema and embed a YouTube video into a WordPress page. It can instantly fetch data from your page, saving you time in filling in boxes. 

Step # 4: Monitor Your Schema Markup

To monitor schema markup enhancements, log in to Google Search Console. Under the Enhancement section located on the left panel, you can view the health of various structured data markups you’ve applied to your pages.  

schema markup on search console

Once you view a schema type, the report should look like this: 

schema markup report on search console

Source: SEO PowerSuite

You also have the chance to track a schema type’s performance in search results. Under the Performance tab, click ‘Search Results’ and proceed to ‘Search Appearance’ to view the summary of clicks and impressions. 

search appearance

Final Thoughts

It’s still a bit shocking that not every business and SEO agency out there is taking advantage of what schema markup can do. But you can’t blame them—all these structured data and jargon might scare anyone who doesn’t know much about coding.

There’s so much information to sift through.

However, schema markup only looks complicated on the surface. With the countless CMS, plugins and tools you have now, you can easily implement schema types on your webpage. 

You get the chance to take up more real estate on the SERPs, increase social media following, control how your brand appears and help search engines understand you better. 

And if you’re ready to jump on the schema bandwagon, our team of talented web developers and SEO experts is willing to help. Together, we can outrank your competitors and get the top spot on search results. 

Let’s further take your SEO techniques to greater heights. Work with us!

FAQs

What is schema markup?

Schema markup is a structured data vocabulary that search engines use to understand content on web pages. It is considered a user-centric feature, providing users with more accurate information in the rich snippets displayed on the SERPs.

Why is schema markup important?

Schema markup is important due to the following reasons:
– It helps you stand out on the SERPs with rich results.
– It increases your social media following through the SameAs schema.
– It improves your brand visibility through a Google Knowledge Graph.

How do you use schema markup for SEO?

To use schema markup for SEO, here are the steps you need to follow:
1. Generate the markup through structured data generators or manual markup.
2. Test your code.
3. Deploy the code using Google Tag Manager or a WordPress plugin.
4. Monitor your schema markup performance and health using Google Search Console.

Looking for a trusted SEO agency in Singapore? Schedule a consultation with us today.

About Roots Digital

Roots Digital is an award-winning digital marketing agency and SEO agency headquartered in Singapore, specialising in eCommerce Marketing and lead generation.

Some of our core digital marketing services include SEO servicesSEM services, Google Ads management servicesGoogle Analytics services and more.

Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in working with us. Connect with us via our service enquiry form. You may schedule a call for more information and to know more about our digital marketing services.

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Picture of Ian Ong
Ian Ong
Marketing Director @ Roots Digital, a digital marketing agency in Singapore. Aka the guy responsible for growing the digital marketing agency.
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