When you’re searching for a new product online, is your attention grabbed by the results featuring pictures, prices, and star ratings? When looking up your favourite recipe, do you gravitate towards the recipe card that appears at the top of the page? When seeking details on a home improvement project, do you click through to the site with 10 steps that are already laid out in the info-box as soon as the main search page loads?

These are all examples of attention-grabbing rich results, and they’re just one of the reasons why schema.org markup’s profile has risen in SEO and marketing industry news over the last few months.


What Is Schema.org Markup?

Schema data is a type of microdata that makes it easier for search engines to understand the information on web pages. It can be found on Schema.org, which has been around since 2011. While it's been recently discussed primarily in relation to Google, Schema.org is a collaborative effort between Google, Bing, and Yahoo, as well as the Russian search engine Yandex.

 

How Does It Work?

Structured data is used on individual pages, and allows search engines more insight into what your site contains and how it works. This differs slightly from H1 title tags and meta descriptions, in the sense that these simply tell the browser to display terms formatted in a certain way, rather than providing the search engine with insight into the terms' meaning. Schema.org notes that their markup would help the search engine differentiate between the term “Avatar” when it’s used to describe a movie or a profile image. As Kissmetrics puts it, “Schema data tells the search engines what your data means, not just what it says.” The search engine then provides results that display better information for the user who was making a search.

Google has quality guidelines about how structured data should be used, in order to ensure that information is used correctly. For example, things should not be classified incorrectly. Additionally, they recommend JSON-LD format for schema data, but Google supports structured data in Microdata format as well as RDFa format.

 

Why Does It Matter?

As we’ve already mentioned, search engines use Schema markup understand the content of the page. This can be relevant to SEO because, as Google’s Gary Illyes stated, “It will help us understand your pages better, and indirectly, it leads to better ranks in some sense, because we can rank easier.”

Google Search also uses structured data to activate certain important features that can help you grab searchers’ interest and potentially gain more traffic. For example, you’ve likely seen recipes shown as cards that feature ratings, star reviews, and more.

This helps your site grab attention and stand out on the search engine results page. Being featured as an eye-catching rich result is likely to garner you more clicks. (Google explains Rich Results here).

A 2015 study by search engine journal revealed, for example, that rich media in position two outperformed a non-rich media in position one. This is because users can immediately learn more about your page, which boosts the likelihood of getting clicks. In other words, even if it does not directly increase your site's ranking, it can help you gain more visibility. While SEO marketing often has a focus on increasing rankings, many experts have pointed out that it's important to keep in mind that this goal doesn't exist for its own sake: optimizing your website helps you gain more traffic (and, usually, business) by providing highly visible, useful information to web searchers. That's why it's also important to take advantage of other features and techniques that can help achieve this goal.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Are Rich Results, Exactly?

Rich snippets have been around since 2009, add relevant value to search listings. The array of rich results available has changed over the years. Search results may show enhancements like breadcrumbs, business logo, contact information. They also display content specific relevance like price, review ratings, product listing photos, and more.


Will Schema Markup To My Site Guarantee Rich Results?

Schema markup does not guarantee that your website will be featured as a rich result. However, no data means that there is no chance of your website being featured. Google appears to be rolling out an increasing number of features that depend on this markup (more on this later). You simply can’t afford to get left behind.

 

Why Has There Been More Interest In Schema.Org Recently?

While the inner workings of Google’s algorithm and updates are never made perfectly clear to the public, a recent timeline below demonstrates how schema markup is being used more frequently.

As of April 2017, schema data for products began to be used for the “similar items” feature. While only certain categories were displayed, it was speculated that this would be broadened over time.

In November 2017, Gary Illyes from Google stated, at Pubcon, “Structured data. This is one of those things that I want you to pay lots of attention to this year.” He also stated: “It is almost like we started building lots of new features that rely on structured data, kind of like we started caring more and more and more about structured data. That is an important hint for you if you want your sites to appear in search features: implement structured data.”

As of December 19, 2017, “Rich results” became the new name for all of Google’s special search results and enhancements, which had previously been categorized as rich snippets, rich cards, or enriched results.

Throughout the course of January, The SEM Post has noted instances of new features like the “Best” product carousel being used or tested. It's possible that Google draws on Schema data for these results too--we’ll keep you updated about these developments as we learn more.

These changes are in line with what is stated on Schema.org: “over time you can expect that more data will be used in more ways. In addition, since the markup is publicly accessible from your web pages, other organizations may find interesting new ways to make use of it as well.”

 

Contact Us

It's been noted that only a small number of websites online use schema markup. If you want to ensure your page is eligible for rich results, it may be well worth your time and effort to look into adding this to your website. To learn more, or to discuss the best options for your website, don't hesitate to get in touch online or by phone at 587-880-3358.

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Posted by Team StyleLabs

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