Apr 28, 2015

Schema: Better Search Results, Literally

Schema is a type of code you can add to your website that will show things like ratings, reviews, thumbnail images and the like when search engines returns a result.

It’s not officially one of the elements that Google looks for in its algorithms. However, your product listing (or page, article, review, company result) will be bigger and have more rich information, so people may be more likely to click through to your site.

Here’s an example of a snippet that doesn’t have schema markup:

A rich snippet that doesn't have schema markup

And here’s one that does:

A rich snippet that does have schema markup

The second example has star ratings and an image, as well as cooking time, nutritional information, and number of reviews.

From the search results, a user’s eyes are drawn more to the recipe that includes the image, as well as the star rating; they then read on for the description, and make their decision from there.

In its 2014 report, Searchmetrics found that domains that have integrated the schema code rank better by an average of four positions than those without schema. So as Matt Cutts (the head of Google’s webspam team) has noted, improved ranking as a result of schema markup is “not completely off the table”.

With schema, we add tags to each product or page that identifies them to search engines. There are over 600 ‘things’ to select from and each has its own individual elements. Different item types include book, movie, event, organisation, person, place, restaurant, thing, product, offer, review… and the list goes on.

Properties within the Book item type include edition, format, illustrator, and ISBN; but it also gets some properties from the broader category of Creative Work, such as author, character, and publisher; and others from the broader-still is category of Thing, from which it takes properties like image, name, and URL.

Schema markup is essentially explaining to a search engine what the words mean. For example, a concert promoter would want schema markup on their artist’s event page. When the search engine sees the date and venue information, it doesn’t just read them as words and numbers – it realises, due to the markup, that this is an event, and therefore it will display the information as an event.

How schema affects events

Now you know what it is, and why you should have it, how do you go about getting schema markup added to your website? If it’s run off a database (for example, you have an ecommerce store), your developer will need to integrate the code into the back end. However, if you have a blog, or a smaller site, you can add it in yourself!

Two great tools that can help you create your schema markup are Google’s Webmaster Tools Structured Data Markup Helper  and Schema Creator. With the Markup Helper, you can put in your URL, then manually select each of the items that relate to the tags.

If your item isn’t one of the types supported, you can browse all the resources at schema.org.

Google's Markup Helper in action

In conclusion, schema.org markup won’t necessarily raise your search engine ranking, but it will certainly make your result stand out amongst the thousands that appear, which in turn can lead to a better click-through rate.

If you want to raise the profile of your results in search engines (and be in front of the 99% of websites that aren’t using schema!), get in touch with us and see how we can help you.

Hayley is bwired's Marketing Manager, and handles the Services division. She splits her time between marketing campaigns, delving into clients' data, making stats presentable, and trying to compile pithy sentences. Read her Services blog, Digital Marketing blog, or Google Analytics blog.

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