Being in the search engine marketing business, I am often asked about how a site catalogs web pages and how it can determine searches. A search engine’s goal is to provide the most relevant searches possible. If they don’t provide that then people will stop using their platforms. In order to do this, a Spider is often used to crawl websites and figure out their content and what terms would be relevant to search terms.
Now, a Spider can crawl your site and create any assumptions about your website. What an SEO specialist does is that they help these web crawlers understand your website more fully so that these Spiders can position your website accurately.
Schema, also known as microdata or structured data, helps parse data to make it easier for websites to interpret your data easily and effectively. Schema markup is much like cataloging a library. It helps websites access and find information easier within your website. While Schema sounds easy it can be harder to do than imagined.
Who Creates Schema?
Schema is a collaboration between Google, Bing, Yahoo and a Russian search engine called Yandex which created the site and standard called Schema.org. Now I know what you are thinking. These are competitors, why work together? Well at one point there were several different styles of microdata languages. This made life difficult for webmasters and tough on search engines needing to scan different types of data. So a standard markup was created to ease the life of webmasters and allow search engines to offer search richer features.
Does Schema Improve SEO or Search Rankings?
Google does claim that microdata is not used as a ranking signal. However, including Schema microdata into your website helps search engine crawlers interpret your site’s content effectively. It also improves your websites rich snippets. This all equals more visibility. Don’t think that Schema is a quick SEO hack. It is not. It is just best practice to help improve the way search engines display content.
How Do I Employ Schema Markup?
Schema microdata is applied to the content of a page to define what the data is and how it should be handled. The elements and attributes are added to the HTML code of a web page to provide the search engines’ crawlers with additional information.
In the example below from Schema.org, which focuses on content about a restaurant, you can see that adding the itemtype attribute to the <div> block making it easier for search engines to identify that this content relates to a restaurant. This is a characteristic that is defined in the Schema.org hierarchy. Let’s take a look at the data before the markup:
This is the code after the markup:
Times are often difficult for search engines to understand due to the differences in how they are formatted. These markups help standardize information to help search engine interpret the data correctly.
How Do I Markup My Site With Microdata?
For small sites and sites that have yet to be launched this is much easier than sites with hundreds or thousands of pages. This markup needs to be added manually to each page. While you do not need to add it to all pages, the more pages that have it the clearer your website becomes to web crawlers. Also you need to apply a number of properties before Google will create rich snippets. The best method in marking up websites is to follow the guide available on Schema.org and test your site with Google’s structured data testing tool on their webmasters platform.
I hope this helps you thoroughly understand the importance of Schema and microdata markups. As always post in the comment section or gives us a call if you have any questions.