Launched in June 2011, Schema.org offers a structured data markup backed by major search engines. While schema.org markup has been applied to a number of websites, they are primarily websites run by technically savvy individuals or generated by a CMS. This is because the structured markup has the tendency to be tedious to implement, so webmasters fail to take advantage of the real benefits.
I believe that as we move forward into an era of semantic search, this markup will begin to appear on more and more websites, particularly because an increased dependence on Knowledge Graph and the Google Hummingbird update has made schema.org more important. Schema.org is sure to be a key component as Google moves toward adapting category and entity based queries.
1. It’s a Collaborative Effort
Schema.org isn’t just a solo search engine. It’s a group effort involving Bing, Google, Yahoo!, and Yandex. All support the schema.org markup, which isn’t the case with other markups, such as RDFa or microformats. It’s also worth noting that for search engine optimisation Google recommends adding schema.org over any other markup.
2. All Markups Don’t Create Rich Snippets
While schema.org allows you to send out plenty of information to search engines, not all markups create enhanced search results or rich snippets. “Rich snippets” are elements that appear in a SERP listing that aren’t a meta description. All search engines are frequently changing how they interpret and display structured markup data as rich snippets.
With regards to rich snippets, Google displays them for various types of content, including videos, software applications, organisations, reviews, recipes, music, events, and more. It’s important to familiarise yourself with the complete list of rich snippets Google currently supports. I believe that in most cases, the enhanced list can improve click through rate (CTR), which can lead to better rankings. Several studies have been completed on this, with the majority of them indicating that rich snippets result in more visits.
3. Schema.org Vs. Facebook’s Open Graph
Schema.org is similar to Open Graph’s protocol, but with broader applications. While Open Graph does serve its purpose, it isn’t able to give search engines the detailed information they need to enhance user experience. Schema.org offers added ways to give more details about specific entities on a page.
There are some people that think that as Google’s segmentation in the navigation moves forward, it will begin to align with the schema.org markup, giving it an appearance similar to a Facebook search segmentation drop-down. Currently, it does align with these concepts to some extent.
As Google continues to work to connect entities and categorise them, using the help of schema.org, it’s likely that the navigation will stick to their methodology.
4. It Connects Things
Connection is a huge part of a search that results from one main entity, or a string based query. Schema.org gives you the ability to do this. For example, schema.org lets you specify a person, as well as certain properties of that person, such as date of birth or death, educational institution, a child of the person, and much more.
When you think about it, large websites could improve how they markup their data using this information, making them a provider of this information, possibly, in search engines. Here’s my question. What would Google do with this information? Would they include it in their Knowledge Graph, deliver it in a Google Card, or return the web page in some form. Also, would this alter the search listing by creating a rich snippet? These are questions that are sure to plague SEO minds in the next few months as search evolves. Here’s the bottom-line for search experts. Will the complex task of mapping data with schema.org increase search traffic to a site or will it just deliver the information to Google?
5. Schema.org and Language Optimisation
As an added bonus, the schema.org markup can be added in any language. While the current documentation is only in English, the markup can be used anywhere.
6. Why You Should Add Schema
Google reports that adding the schema.org markup allows search engines to gain a better understanding on the content on the page. In some cases, Google uses the schema markup to create rich snippets. Plus, they plan to add more rich snippets in the future.
Keep in mind that not every type of information in schema.org will turn up in search results. As time goes by, more data will be used in different ways. Additionally, the markup can be publicly accessed from your web pages, which other organisations may find interesting ways to make use of in the future.
7. Adding the Schema Markup to Your Website
So, how do you add schema.org markup to your website? Here is an informative SEO guide that will help you get started. Click here to take a look and after you have added a page, be sure to test it with the structured data testing tool.
Don’t add structured data markup to every page and property. Only add it those that matter most. Google will continue to support past markups, such as RDFa and microformat, for your current content.
While Google doesn’t admit to currently using schema markup as a ranking factor, they do say that rich snippets can make your webpage more prominent in search, which will definitely lead to increased traffic. The two play into each other. If it’s good for users, it’s good for your website.
Finally, as voice search and other string based queries expand on the web (and they will), schema.org will be able to assist in the connection of those categories, concepts, and entities.