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A Beginner's Guide to Schema.org

Jun 13, 2022
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In this video, I'll share the basics of what Schema.org is and why you should care about it. Today's Google is different. This is not your grandma's Google. We have a lot more than just blue links on a white page. We have rich cards, knowledge panels, FAQs, featured snippets, and more. There are more ways to rank and available positions for you to own than ever. To earn some of these positions, you need to leverage schema.org's structured data within your website pages.

 

Video Transcript: 

What is Schema.org?

If you're not familiar with it, it was founded by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex, and the goal was to create and promote schemas for structured data on the internet specifically for the search engines so that the computers themselves could understand the context.

Therefore, Schema.org is a vocabulary that allows or helps search engine crawlers better understand the context of your website. And when you use structured data properly, you can earn certain rich features within Google SERPs.

Some of the more prominent ones would be articles or breadcrumbs, FAQs, how-to, local business, and organization markup, which is called Logo by Google. But you can extend that further and use organizational markup. You can do products and services, question and answer. You can add reviews to your listings, video, and a whole lot more.

Schema.org is a vocabulary that allows or helps search engine crawlers better understand the context of your website. And when you use structured data properly, you can earn certain rich features within Google SERPs.

How Does Schema.org Work?

Schema.org is set up in hierarchical order with the broadest type called 'thing', and each of these items has properties that further describe what they are. Some of these properties are going to be required while others add more detail and context. If you look at the Google documentation, you'll see that on certain types of structured data, you have to put a name, URL, or another bit of information. But you can also add extra to better describe it, but it's not necessarily required.

As you choose a property that you want to define, you want to be as specific as possible, and in order to do that, you can use the search function on schema.org. Let's go over there and I'll show you what that looks like.

Schema.org Overview

This is Schema.org. You can go down rabbit holes on this site and maybe even get yourself confused. I know that I've done that a time or two, especially when I was learning what structured data was and how to leverage schema.org. But if you're curious about a type of markup, you can use this search bar and it's pretty good.

For instance, if you want to learn about organizational markup, you can type in 'organization' and you have all these different types. You can see here 'organization' at the top and it'll tell you all of the different properties associated with it.

If you're looking at this and you're going, "Well, this isn't helpful because all these things don't mean anything to me," and you want to see some examples, you can go down to the bottom of this page where they'll give you example code. You can see right here would be text on the page. This is what the user, you and I, would see, and then if you click on these different markup types, and I would use JSON-LD, you can see what that would look like. This is how you should build your markup.

You have the schema type, context, which will always be schema.org, in this case, the type, which is 'organization', and then you have some properties. Where's the business located? Here's the address. It has an email address and fax number, and you can put members so people who are part of the organization or alumni.

As you can see here, it's a way to structure the information that we saw right here. If you scroll up, you're going to see that there are more specific types. If you're one of these specific types of organization, maybe you're a local business, you'd want to use 'local business' instead of 'organization' markup. You want to be as specific as possible and sometimes it's going to take a little bit of trial and error.

You'll notice that all of these other properties are also valid and can be used, but they're not all required. You want to go through and find out what Google requires and then leverage those. You might be asking yourself, well, where do I find that information? Well, let's hop over to the rich features page within developers.google to see what's required.

Google Search Central Overview

We're here on the Explore The Search Gallery, which can be found at developers.google.com/search. If you want to earn one of these rich features that are listed here, as you can see, a lot of the ones that we talked about in that previous slide showed these, you're going to need to follow their guidelines. Let's talk about 'organization' again. And in this case, Google's going to call it 'Logo'.

If we click 'Get Started', it's going to give us a little bit of information about this markup type. As you can see here, this is a knowledge panel and the logo is right here. It'll tell you how to add this structure data and then it'll also give you an example of what the code should look like.

Within each of these, you'll see guidelines and it'll tell, "You need to follow these guidelines if you want to appear in search." There are certain required properties, and for Logo, you need to have an actual logo and it needs to be an image object, and they have some requirements here, so follow these. And the file format needs to be supported by Google Images so you can't use SVGs. That's not something that Google is going to allow you to use.

Make sure that you're using the right type of file format and that you're following these specific properties here. You also need to add a URL. This would be the organization associated with the logo. Your logo itself will be an actual URL and then you also want to have a URL property with that. You want to make sure that you follow these guidelines if you want to earn these rich features associated with them.

There are definitely a lot of resources online. This is something we cover pretty in-depth within our course about mastering structured data for rich results. But if you're just getting your feet wet and you're starting to learn about it, this is where you can find that information. And, of course, if you have any questions, leave a comment on this video. We'd love to help you and continue that conversation with you.

Where to Add Schema.org

Where do you put this markup? How do you add it to your website? Well, it can be added to pretty much any website page, and typically we'll use JSON-LD, some form of JSON-LD. JSON-LD is data. It's that code that we saw over on the schema.org site. It doesn't change the design of your site or impact your speed. It's data or information. It's metadata, it's data about data.

You can put it on your site by copying and pasting it into an HTML block. You can use WordPress plugins, if you're using WordPress, you can even use Google Tag Manager. You're going to have to tweak it slightly because Google Tag Manager no longer supports JSON-LD and you have to use a wraparound that we have within the course that turns it into JavaScript. But that's getting too complex. Or you can leverage Google Tag Manager, but you have to make a couple of code manipulations for it to work there.

The number one thing you need to think about when thinking of where you want to add it is the pages themselves. You can add lots of different markups to the page, but you need to be careful that you're helping the content become more machine-readable and you're not adding too much where it's causing confusion.

We try to focus our main pages on one main type of markup per those pages and then we'll add in extra properties to help explain it in more detail. For your homepage, you might have 'organization' markup. For your About Us page, you can use 'about page' markup. For product page, you'd obviously want to use 'product' markup. For contact page, you can use 'contact page' markup. For a single blog, you can use 'article' or 'blog posting', whichever is more representative of what content you create. And maybe you have Frequently Asked Questions page, and for that, you're going to want to use 'FAQ'.

Page type - Markup Type

These are some examples, but you want to take the time to map this project out so that you have your markup in the correct areas. Then you can add them to your page in the way that's easiest for you to manage and continue to make changes and tweaks as you need to.

Why Markup Matters

Why does all of this matter? Why should you even go through the trouble of adding this to your website? As we said before, Google uses structured data to help better understand your site and enable rich features. Rich features have a significant impact on click-through rate. We've seen this time and time again.

Those FAQ boxes and listings can have a massive impact on the click-through rate and give you a lot more real estate within the SERPs. Therefore, if you're using 'article', maybe you're a new site, and you can get articles like this within the search results.

If you're using an 'FAQ' markup, you can have this type of markup show on your site. For products, not only can you get the listings on regular Google search but you can also get product tags within image search, and this is only enabled through the correct use of product structured data.

Structured data is a game-changer. It can help you optimize your site. It can help expand the visibility you have in the SERPs.

Structured data is a game-changer. It can help you optimize your site. It can help expand the visibility you have in the SERPs, and if you want to learn how to use this at a more detailed level, I highly recommend you check out our course, Mastering Structured Data and Schema.org For Rich Results.

We give everybody on YouTube 25% off. Use the code "YouTube" and you can sign up today at learn.simplifiedsearch.net. If you liked the video, give it a thumbs up. Make sure you share it with a friend. Until next time, happy marketing.

Mastering Structured Data

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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