SEO: What is Schema Markup?

Written by: Jason Bayless | December 28, 2015

Schema markup is a tool for search engine optimization (or SEO) that is seldom used today. It’s one of the most powerful tools that is available for making SEO happen. It works, simply, by making your link stand out in the mass of results among the pages. After all, SEO is all about making the searcher click your link.

While markup can be difficult to understand at the beginning, it is fairly easy to understand once it’s broken down. If you already understand what rich snippets are, then you already understand what schema markup is.

However, if you don’t know what rich snippets are, they are easy to figure out. It’s essentially coding that is in the web page itself. The additional information helps search engines figure out where the result should be on the pages in the results for the key words. The information can be added between the HTML tags of < div > (without the spaces) and can easily be read by search engines. If dates are being included, it’s useful to use the HTML tags of “startdate” and “datetime” to allow the search engines to read the information correctly.

It is important to note that schema is not as helpful as it seems right now. Google and other big search engine companies of today’s world do not use schema information to make a difference in the page rankings. While this may make it seem useless to use, schema is good for a variety of different ways. Schema is how rich snippets work – and lucky for everyone, Google displays rich snippets. While they don’t necessarily help SEO to begin with, it may help bring the clicks that bring the page higher and higher on the search results.

If you run a large site, it might not seem like it would take that long to add the microdata needed to make the schema happen. That would be a horrible misconception for you. The data has to be added on a page by page level. If your site has, say, 10 pages, you’re better off than if your site had 1,000 pages. Good news is that each page doesn’t have to have schema data to start off with. As new pages are added, yes, add the schema for more effect. However, one or two pages at a time can be updated with schema and in between the updates can be used as time to recover and think.

On that note, more on not needing to have schema on every page. Schema markups need to be on a certain number of pages before search engines – Google particularly – will pick up on the rich snippets and display them. However, if there’s more microdata for the search engines to pick up on, it will make the purpose of your site clearer to the search engines – which will allow for an appropriate place on the search engine result pages.

However, there are wonderful benefits to having schema in your site’s HTML. With the rich snippets (and the rel=author for a picture to be shown by your link in the results), the click through rate (or CTR) will start to go up. The visitors that simply return to the results page, however, don’t count towards your CTR.

The other benefit to using schema in the site is that this technique usually works well with open graph and twitter card tags. The search engines gather even more information from your site when the two are used in conjunction and can offer a better ranking on the results pages.

Schema is not something to be afraid of – instead it should be embraced.