Schema markup is a vocabulary for structuring data on a web page to improve how search engines understand the content presented there and how they display it in search results.
Using data schema on your pages will help Google “see” the data it can use to enrich your search snippets with more information.
Why Is That a Good Thing?
The Big, Future Picture
Structuring data with schema markup provides the context to help search engines understand content as a whole, improving the search experience for everyone. It’s one small step for indexing and a giant leap for rewarding high-quality content.
The Here & Now
- Enriching snippets with schema-identified information helps searchers make a more informed decision about the quality of your content.
- Rich snippets take up more space on the page and contain eye-catching elements that will attract the attention of people who can benefit from your products and services.
You can take a deep dive into rich snippets in this article, but suffice to say, evidence indicates that rich snippets can improve your click-through rate (CTR) by 35%.
Adoption statistics by the founders of Schema.org indicate that (as of 2015) less than one-third of Google’s search results included a rich snippet. Naturally, adoption rates have increased since then, but rich snippets still represent a huge opportunity for site owners who use schema.
Schema Markup Terms, Defined
So far, I’ve tossed around a few terms that you might not be familiar with, so let’s back up and lay down some definitions.
What’s the difference between schema markup, Schema.org, microdata, JSON-LD, and structured data?
Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying its contents by pairing a name with a value that helps search engines index and categorize your content.
Microdata is one form of structured data used to nest metadata within existing content on web pages. Microdata provides information about specific elements on a page, which helps search engines interpret and categorize those elements. The flip side of Microdata is metadata, which provides general information about a page — such as URL, page title, and description — that’s helpful to searchers.
If you’re a site owner or marketer who wears many hats, you can implement structured data on a page-by-page basis using JSON-LD even if you don’t have any coding experience. It’s simply a matter of copying and pasting code from a structured markup generator into your web page. (There’s a step-by-step schema guide below.)
You can learn more about both JSON-LD and Microdata on Schema.org.
Schema.org is a collaborative project founded by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex. Schema.org uses an open-community concept to develop an agreed-upon set of definitions for schema tags. These tags are referred to as schema markup.
All of this information about website schema and click-through rates is great, but you want to know if schema will help you rank higher for your chosen keywords. In other words, are schema tags good for SEO?
Currently, there’s no evidence to show that structured data SEO directly influences organic search rankings.
So, if it isn’t a factor in where you rank, why should you bother learning about what is schema markup?
Data schema does qualify your content for rich results like rich cards, rich snippets, and the knowledge graph. All of these options will boost your search snippet’s visibility in SERPs, and as I mentioned before, that can improve your click-through rate and drive more traffic to your page.
Types of Schema Markup
These are just a few things you can use data schema to define:
How to Add Schema Markup to Your Web Pages
I’m going to walk you through how to add schema markup to pages using the process that I recommend for site owners who don’t have web-dev resources. If you have a large website, I recommend that you reach out to a technical SEO consultant to help you implement JSON-LD using a more scalable method.
Below, I’ve listed some of the free tools that are available to help you generate schema data to add to your web pages.
For the purpose of this guide, I’ll pick one of those tools and walk through how I generated the schema for the FAQs at the bottom of this page.
Keep in mind that this process will look a little different depending on the type of schema you’re implementing.
- Go to Merkle’s schema markup generator tool and select FAQ Page.
It’s important to note that you can generate markup to create an entire FAQ page, but it’s just as appropriate for an FAQ section in an article, blog post, or product/service page.
- I have three FAQ questions at the bottom of this post, so I paste in the question, then the answer, one at a time, by clicking the Add Question button.
You can see that the generator is adding my questions and answers to the code as I go.
- To test the code, click the Google button in the top right corner of the page.
- And select Structured Data Testing Tool.
- This opens the Schema.org validator tool and pastes your code into it.
- Press the green arrow to validate the code.
- 0 Errors 0 Warnings. We’re good to go!
- I copy the code that’s been dynamically generated.
- And paste it into the HTML on the page. (There are directions below for how to view code on your WordPress pages.)
Note: The JSON-LD code is invisible to users. Don’t replace your page content with the data schema. The HTML is for users to read, and the schema data is for search engines to read.
- When you look at the page with your visual editor, you’ll see something like this:
- When you preview your page, you’ll only see the HTML.
Be sure to double-check your HTML. I’ve seen some content management systems add errant code to schema markup, such as line breaks or paragraph tags. Any extra code added to the JSON-LD markup will render it “unparsable” by Google.
To see if you have this error, sign into your Google Search Console and select “Unparsable structured data” from the left-hand sidebar (it’s under Enhancements).
This will open a structured data report that tells you if you have an error and where. If you have an error, you’ll need to take a look at your schema markup to identify any errant code. Once fixed, click on the error to revalidate your page.
Whenever possible, add schema markup in a custom HTML block to protect it from unintended changes.
Free Schema Markup Tools
As you dive deeper into adding schema data to your pages, you might find some of these tools handy.
FAQs About Schema Markup
Will using structured data improve search rankings?
There’s a lot of speculation about whether website schema affects rankings, so it bears repeating — there’s no conclusive evidence that structured data impacts search position. As mentioned above, there have been studies about the impact of rich snippets (generated from schema tags). Those studies indicate that snippets with rich data receive a higher percentage of click-throughs. This is consistent with the strategic perspective we take at Victorious.
Using schema to optimize for rich snippets helps you make the most of your search position to boost organic traffic to your pages.
Do I need to add schema markup for every page?
No, you absolutely don’t need to add schema tags to every page on your website. My recommendation is always to start with pages that are core to your SEO efforts. Remember, what is schema markup going to help you do? Improve your CTR. Where is that going to matter most? On pages that are already ranking.
Since marketers are working with finite resources, my advice is always to prioritize the activities that can make the biggest impact on your SEO results. Does it hurt to add schema markup on every page? Not as long as you’re using it correctly.
Once you’ve added schema markup to strategically important pages, if you find ways to scale your implementation (maybe by outsourcing, onboarding, or automation), then continue adding markup to additional pages.
How do I add schema markup to a WordPress site?
How you add schema to your WordPress (WP) site will depend on whether you’re adding it to one page at a time or doing a large-scale implementation. For large-scale implementations, I recommend you work with a website developer who can add JSON-LD to the header section of your WP theme.
If you’re implementing data schema on one page at a time, you can easily paste your code where you want it, whether you use the block editor (Gutenberg) or the classic editor.
In the block editor, click the three stacked dots on the upper right corner of the editor, and select code editor from the navigation that appears.
In the classic editor, toggle the view by clicking on the text tab.
Paste your code where you want and save your changes.
Schema Markup & Your SEO Campaign
Using schema markup for rich snippet optimization is one part of a holistic SEO campaign. While it’s not hard to implement schema on your pages, it’s an SEO tactic that’s only as effective as the strategy behind it. An SEO agency like Victorious can help work schema markup into an overall SEO strategy. By leveraging rich snippet opportunities in the context of your marketing goals, we can help you make the most of every opportunity to drive qualified traffic to your website. Get in touch, and let’s talk about how to increase your visibility in search.