Now this is a topic that can give you headaches 🙂 Schema! Ill try and make it as simple as possible.
Schema.org’s schemas allow you to mark up your website so that it is easier for external services like Google to understand what the content is really about. Whereas standard HTML and CSS mark-up used on every site tell search engines and web browsers how your website should look, schemas tell them the meta details of what the information is really about.
At the very least, using structured data will help your pages to get search engine results that appear with snippets from the site, knowledge graphs, and interactive mobile results. As you read the rest of this guide, you will see that it covers a wide range of topics to help you understand exactly how Schema works for you. You will be able to learn how to get Google to show great results for your site.
What is Structured Data?
Structured data is mark-up that you can add to your website so that search engines have an easier time understanding your pages’ purposes. The Schema.org system is used by most of the big-name sites like Google. Schema.org gives your site a boost by adding tags and properties to your pages. The reason the big sites such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo use this type of structured data is that it is easier to understand what the page is trying to do rather than simply guessing from the page’s text content and layout.
If you use this type of structured data in the correct way, you are off to a head start when it comes to your site being understood by search engines. Your site will usually be presented better in search results with ‘rich results’. On the other hand, there are no guarantees when it comes to getting rich results. You are still at the mercy of the search engines. This is a Schema for a service type of business.
Why Do You Need Structured Data?
If you are able to mark up all the different parts of your site such as products, reviews, events and more with Schema.org than your site will be better understood by search engines. Because of this, search engines will understand more about your site and won’t have to guess. They will be able to tell exactly what everything is on your site.
Is Structured Data Important for SEO?
Essentially, if you are able to use structured data in the form of Schema.org on your site correctly than it is definitely important. If you are able to use the data correctly, it will give your site a better search result even if it does not necessarily give you a better ranking immediately.
- Firstly, users are more likely to click on your rich result in the search engine results, so you will receive more visitors.
- Secondly, people are more likely to be able to drill down to the exact content they want on your site directly from the search results. This will lower your bounce rate.
- Thirdly, because your bounce rate will go down, Google will consider your site better at offering the right solution to visitors, which should increase your organic search engine rankings.
Another thing to keep in mind with structured data is that it is still in its infancy. If you are able to get in on it now, then you will be one step ahead of your competition. For instance, if you are able to mark up your site with a hundred good reviews and there is a competing site with no reviews which one do you think a potential customer would pick?
Structured Data Leads to Rich Results
In making your site easier for search engines to understand, you are allowing the search engine to do more with your site. New schemas are being added to describe different data.
The following is a list of what rich results are available at time of writing – Breadcrumbs, Corporate Contacts, Carousels, Logos, Sitelinks, Searchbox, Social Profiles, Articles, Books, Courses, Datasets, Events, Fact Checks, Job Postings, Local Businesses, Music, Occupations, Podcasts, Products, Recipes, Reviews, TV & Movies, and Video.
Rich Results (Formerly Known as Rich Snippets)
Rich results used to be known as rich snippets. These results are shown on a search result page. They can include extra information and can even be interactive. Different things that can enhance the search result are things like product information, pricing, reviews, and breadcrumbs, etc. This is what one looks like in search.
Rich Card Results on Mobile: The Carousel
If you have ever looked up something on your phone, you will be familiar with The Carousel. Looking things up on a mobile is becoming increasingly popular and they are generally given special treatment due to the small screen estate. These results are given to the user in a way that they can swipe through them and the results themselves are touch friendly.
Google wants you to be able to do as much as possible from the search engine results page. They want you to be able to book a flight, order movie tickets, or even read recipes so that Google can help you out while you are cooking. This is the greatness of structured data and it is still in the very beginning phases. There is so much more to come. This is what it looks like
The Knowledge Graph refers to the results listed on the right-hand side of your Google page. This will give you different information on the search result that you have landed on. Google will check out and evaluate content that is potentially related to the search that you have performed. If you have become a company who is an authority on the topic then you have a good chance of seeing your site listed here. Here is a good knowledge graph on Tom Cruise
A Featured Snippet is technically still considered a Rich Result. The difference between these two terms is that a Featured Snippet does not get its results from structured data. It will answer a question directly from the regular content of a page and it will show that answer in the search results.
Does Structured Data Work on Mobile?
Even though Structured Data on mobile is still in the beginning phase, it is definitely used on mobiles. Google has been pushing these types of search results for quite some time now. If your page meets the criteria that Google requires then you should be able to buy tickets and more right from the search results page. If you are able to implement the structured data on your page in the correct way then you will be able to have quite a few different interactive features on your mobile results page. You can also add AMP to enhance the number of interactive features on your mobile.
Schema Data Types
Search Engine Optimisation can be a confusing and frustrating endeavour. At the same time, it is important that no matter what kind of material you are promoting online, that it be accessible the largest amount of people. This is where the website Schema.org comes in.
It becomes very important that you, as the site owner, be careful what schema data you choose to incorporate into your site. Depending on the type of information your site contains, you will want to use that particular schema code and not codes that have nothing to do with your site information. Knowing what you offer and what you need is vital when implementing structured data, so be sure to check search engine documentation to make sure you fully understand what type of site you actually have.
Once you are certain on the type of information your site contains then it is time to decide what group your site fits into. You’ll want to stay away from obscure groups that most people will never see, and stick with large groups that millions of people will be searching for. There is an endless amount of groups to choose from, so narrowing them down to the most important ones is definitely vital to your search engine optimisation success.
One of the main categories that many sites fall under is Creative Works. Creative Works are any content that has been created by people for entertainment or other purposes. These can be sites that offer games, conversations, or software applications. In general, these sites are plentiful and can, therefore, get lost in search engine results. That is why Schema.org can be very useful in helping the sites get more traffic.
Creative Works contains many different categories. If your site contains any of the following categories, be sure to include creative works schema data in your coding.
Articles and Books
Any information or content that pertains to books or articles can be given the label of creative works. Articles can be broken down into much smaller categories such as news, tech, or blog.
Books can be in either paper or digital form. Schema data should be added to important parts of the books, such as authors or awards.
Datasets help Google to understand and translate the information on a site.
At the moment, the ability to mark-up how-to content with structured data is not available but it is on the way. How-to content is very big now. They give users an instructional step-by-step platform to use in order to achieve an activity or task.
In the near future, any site that offers some sort of training or instructional course in any area will be able to use structured data in order to make their site more understandable by Google and thus easier to find by users who are interested in that content.
Adding Schema.org data to recipes can be a serious game changer. Not only will it help get those recipes to appear in search engine results, but it can also be used to enhance mobile applications and be translated into data that at-home devices such as Google Home can utilise.
Music has several categories that can be used to make that type of content more recognisable in search engine results. Assigning the structured data for MusicAlbum, MusicRecording, MusicEvent, and MusicGroup will enhance a creator’s ability to get their content into the screens of users that want it the most.
There are many ways to incorporate structured data into video coding that will increase their visibility in search engine results. Google is putting a lot of effort into videos and is currently finding even more ways to implement video listings into their results.
TV & Movies
TV shows and movies have many options with structured data that allow them to provide very detailed and helpful results. They can be coded in such a way that a search result will provide reviews, cast information, and even the ability to purchase tickets for a movie showing.
Podcasts are huge right now, so wouldn’t it be a good idea to enhance them in as many ways possible? By adding Schema.org coding to the podcasts, Google can list the podcasts with a description of the topic and even allow the search result to display a play button.
Commerce is the second major group that has many options at Schema.org. If you have a web presence that offers any of the following categories, you’ll want to look into adding some structured data to them to make them more efficient online.
If you own a club, a park, or any kind of venue, adding the right kind of structured data from Schema.org can allow search engines to show those listings directly and allow people that are interested in them to purchase them immediately.
Business and organisations
Adding the right business schema to your site can be very helpful for anyone that owns a business and has a company site. With the right structured data, a search result will not only bring your business up quickly, but it can give important information like your name and address as well.
If you sell products online, the right Products Schema.org data is almost vital at this point. Information such as reviews, locations to buy, pricing, and stock details can all be pulled up along with the product as long as it has the proper data connected to it.
Everyone wants to read reviews in today’s culture. Reviews can be the difference between making a sale and making a customer go somewhere else. With the right structured data attached to your site that five-star review can pop up along with the search result.
There is a new category that is currently being worked on every day, and that is home assistant actions. With the right structured data, your recipe can be sent straight to Google Home so that it can read it out for the user as they cook. There are many more actions like this available and they can certainly make a site a lot more appealing to a consumer when they know that these actions exist.
The Technical Details of Schema Mark-up
Before you start to mark-up your website, you will want to know exactly how Schema.org works. Schema.org is based on a vocabulary hierarchy. All of the different words and parts are connected and resemble how things are connected on your site. You will scroll through all of the options that are available to you and mark down the ones you think are the most relevant.
If, for instance, you run a business, then you could look at the provided list and pick out the specific business type that relates most closely to your business. If your listing is too general then you can look for information that is more specific to your business by using the Product Types Ontology. You will see that Google requires the name and Phone (NAP) of your business. You will be able to fill out many different details that can include your geo-location, your hours and many more. You will want to fill out as much of this information as possible so that you will get as much representation on Google as you possibly can.
Google Search Console
If you want to check out how your structured data for your site is doing on Google then you can look at your Search Console. If you look under the Structured Data tab that is found under Search Appearance then you can see which of your pages contain structured data and which (if any) of the pages have errors. Here you will also be able to see more of the insights related to Rich Cards.
What do You Need to Mark Up?
When first looking at Schema.org, it is easy to become overwhelmed with everything there is for you to do. There is a huge list to choose from and it can make the task seem impossible. What you want to do is think of the basics. Think about your specific site and what you think is most important about your business. Write these things down and work from there. You also want to remember to focus on business details, products, and reviews when it comes to what you want to add structured data to. If you focus on these three things then you will get the biggest effect in the shortest amount of time.
How to Implement Structured Data
Structured Data with JSON-LD
Although JSON-LD is usually the preferred way to add structured data to your site it has not been adopted by every major search engine. Microsoft and Google, however, now both support it and it is the most efficient method out there.
RFDA and Microdata
Before JSON-LD, you used to write structured data by embedding it in the HTML on your page. This made the whole process a lot slower and made it prone to more errors. This is actually one of the main reasons that Schema.org has had a slow uptake. Using RFDA and Microdata can cause many issues so you should try to stick to JSON-LD to avoid any headaches. Microdata is hard to work with because everything you do has to be inline coded. This makes more issues for you because it is harder to read, write, and edit.
Structured Data and Google AMP
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are actually causing quite a ruckus. This is because Google is pushing for this to be used so that pages will load faster when searching on mobile. AMP relies on structured data so you will definitely need to add that.
In the End
Because of all the new updates and new things being done with structured data you will no longer be able to get away with not using it. You will want to make sure that your site is utilising structured data to its advantage. You will want to look into the best way for you to use Schema.org. If you are able to understand it well and use it correctly then it can do amazing things for your site and your business. Search engines are always looking for new ways to present their results and most of the time they are going to use Schema.org and its data to get the job done.
Five Top WordPress Plugins for Schema
Schema App Structured Data
Schema App Structured Data is an impressive freemium utility capable of unlocking the entire Schema.org mark-up library for your WordPress website.
Regrettably, the free version has significant limitations.
Schema App Structured Data is able to use the information from your WordPress website automatically to add schema mark-up to every post, page, and author page you have. Moreover, if more schema mark-up is needed, you are able to make use of Schema App’s tool in generating fresh mark-up from Schema.org’s entire library.
In addition, Schema App has an e-commerce extension capable of adding rich snippets to the pages for your product if you run a WooCommerce store.
Okay – That seems very powerful. Is it too good to be true?
Well, you are limited, in the plugin’s free version, to just 10 pages of content and 50 data items. That’s correct – you will not be allowed to add schema mark-up to every page you have with the plugin’s free version unless your site possesses less than 10 content pages (unlikely).
You will have to purchase the premium version in order to get rid of the limitations and unlock the full potential. However, you can test drive the premium version with a free two-week evaluation period.
Rich Snippets WordPress Plugin
Rich Snippets is a high quality, yet cost-effective rich snippets plugin. It works like All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets (below), but it has some distinctive features to offer, making it a bargain at a low price point.
Rich Snippets comes with distinct schema mark-up shortcodes, seven of them, that can be used for the addition of schema mark-up to the content you have. These are:
This approach is somewhat similar to that of All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets. When All in One Schema Snippets is available free of cost, why should Rich Snippets be paid for?
Rich Snippets allows you to make for yourself schema mark-up shortcodes with the use of a shortcode generator. As such, if you are in need of some esoteric schema mark-up, you can use Rich Snippets to make a shortcode that can be used repeatedly if needed.
Rich Snippets is a good, versatile choice. The price with a standard Envato license at Code Canyon is $20.
All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets
All In One Schema.org Rich Snippet is a good choice if you aren’t concerned with review boxes and all you want is basic schema mark-up like recipes.
All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets allows you to include schema from its different types of supported content, of which there are eight. Presently, these are the schema types:
- Software Application
It adds a new Configure Rich Snippet meta box that allows you to pick the basis of the post when you edit or create content pieces.
For example, you will be allowed to input the name of the reviewer, the name of the item, as well as the star rating (with a range of 1-5) upon choosing a Review type.
However, if you go with, for example, a Recipe type, you put in details such as image, cooking time, etc.
If reviews are entirely the focus of your website, it would be better for you to go with a dedicated review plugin. However, All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets is a great choice if all you need is a basic, uncomplicated way to have schema mark-up for an array of content types.
In addition, it’s completely free!
WP Product Review
Assuming that displaying review boxes and star ratings on Google is what you want, then you need WP Product Review.
Brought to you by Themelsle, WP Product Review is a review plugin that is available in in free and premium versions.
Looking first at the rich snippets utility, WP Product Review includes all the needed schema mark-up to add your rich snippets to Google listings.
It adds many additional features to speed things up. To start with, great product review boxes can be made. Almost anything regarding the design of the box can be customised. Borders, colours, width are all up for grabs. In addition, you can pick out any of 10+ various icons that can be used for the ratings. As an example, you could instead choose to employ heart icons if you don’t like star ratings.
You can also choose the location of the box. You could choose from regular options such as below or above content, or using a shortcode, put the box anywhere.
Additionally, if you desire to let your users have the ability to provide product ratings, it is possible for you to let them include ratings as they leave comments.
To validate its premium level pricing, WP Product Reviews includes some additional features.
To aid your readers in making the right choice, you are able to make tables for comparing separate products. Comparison tables feature regularly on the majority of affiliate sites – and you don’t need to depend on TablePress or something like that for these tables thanks to this plugin.
WP Product Review (premium) is able to import the details of products automatically from Amazon. All you have to do is plug the link into Amazon, and then WP Product Review automatically captures the product’s:
- Price (over the API so you can avoid running into difficulties with the strict Amazon Associates’ rules on prices being displayed)
- Affiliate link (with your tracking code)
What does the free version of WP Product Review include?
You will still have the ability to make simple review boxes with a rating you provide. However, a majority of the features that are good will be lost. Which means there’s no:
- Preloading functionality
- Pro / Con lists
- Custom icons
- Amazon import
- Comparison tables
In addition, you will not have the same amount of versatility in modifying the review boxes.
A WP Product Review license for one site has a price of $75 per license. However, the package costing $299 is necessary for the Amazon import feature. Then there’s always the free version with limitations.
If you want to be able to mark up your existing WordPress content then you will most likely want to go with Schema Pro. It offers this functionality but will not break the bank. Schema Pro comes to you from the same people that bring you the All in One Schema Rich Snippets Plugin. Schema Pro will help your site by adding JSON-LD schema mark-up in a unique way. Schema Pro allows you to skip adding new content to your site because it will mark-up the content you already have. You can do this by making sure to map your existing content into the schema mark-up you want.
After you have installed the plugin, you will see a setup wizard that will help you to set up the basic global schema for your site. After this, you will add schema mark-up for specific content by selecting from thirteen different included schema types. You will then choose the content you want to use. This can be all posts, pages or custom post types or you can specify what you want to use. Once you have done this, then it is simple to map the mark-up options to fields that already exist or you can customise the fields from a drop-down menu.
Just keep in mind that if you want to add schema mark-up to your WordPress site but don’t want to add extra content then your best bet is Schema Pro.