Schema Markup & SEO

Written by: Jason Bayless | November 09, 2015

Trying to find out when a beloved Broadway play is coming to a theater by you can be difficult. Searching it and sifting through the results can be a pain in the butt for the searcher. Looking through all the sites with a short description can be difficult. The site that will eventually get their attention will have a snippet in the description that is not in any of the others. Whether this is a time table of when the show will be showing at theaters in the nearby area or a rating of the site itself, it will be helpful for the searcher.

It’s very simple to add this kind of information to what search engines find out about the sites they show on the results. This information is called the schema markup, and it’s hidden in the HTML code on the site itself. Schema allows the search engine crawlers (the things that actually pick up the information from the sites that allow the search engine to find the information they need) to differentiate between a site that sells, say, essential oils, and a site that sells cooking oils. They both sell oils, but they are completely different.

However, if you have used rich snippets, this is simply an extension of the HTML coding and information used there. Both use the HTML coding built into a website to offer information to a search engine that it may not find by itself. There are specific HTML codes (such as < div>, without the spaces) that let the search engines know what your site is about. Going back to the example in the first paragraph, if your theater is showing three Disney shows in the next couple of months, updating the schema for the timetables for the theater would be a good way to show that in the search engines. This would allow anyone looking to see a Disney show that they can see them at that theater.

Before questioning why you should even consider adding schema to your site – which could possibly be a lot of work depending on how many pages you have on your site – look at the chart of how many domains use schema versus those that don’t. The amount of competition when you add schema to your site decreases significantly. Your site will have a better chance of catching someone’s eye if you have something different – a picture (such as rel=author will give you), a thumbnail, or even simply a rating of * stars out of five and a corresponding number of reviews. If you run a recipe site, a calorie count for each recipe within the schema of the corresponding pages could help get a higher click through rate (CTR) for that recipe (or recipes).

Search engine optimization – or SEO – benefits greatly from adding schema to your site’s pages. It allows the search engines to find more useful data to add to the description or to the ranking system. Since search engines can’t understand all of what a web page actually says (so most of this article will probably be meaningless or gibberish to the search engines), the schema allows the search engines to find the most important pieces of information to help them differentiate. Going back to the oil sites, if one sells essential oils, it wouldn’t make much sense for the site to show up in a search about cooking oils, and vice versa.

The schema, then, should be able to help you improve your site’s ratings and rank on the search engine pages. Overall, it is worth adding even a little schema to the main pages of a site.