Internet Marketing Tips, Suggestions, & Ramblings

What is Schema Data Markup and Why Do You Need It?

WHAT IS SCHEMA DATA Markup?!?

Most will assume it is related to databases (Oracle database schema, mySQL database schema), but now thanks to algorithm updates in Google, schema data markup, also referred to as structured data markup, or rich snippets, is a type of data implemented on your website that makes it wildly easier for search engines to read what exactly is happening on your site. That’s the short version.

The longer version comes courtesy of the Schema.org site and states that schema is a universal language of sorts that:

…Webmasters use this markup on HTML pages in ways recognized by major search providers, and that can also be used for structured data markup interoperability (e.g. in JSON). Search engines including Bing, Google, Yahoo! and Yandex rely on this markup to improve the display of search results, making it easier for people to find the right Web pages.

Many sites are generated from structured data, which is often stored in databases. When this data is formatted into HTML, it becomes very difficult to recover the original structured data. Many applications, especially search engines, can benefit greatly from direct access to this structured data. On-page markup enables search engines to understand the information on web pages and provide richer search results in order to make it easier for users to find relevant information on the web. Markup can also enable new tools and applications that make use of the structure.

A shared markup vocabulary makes it easier for webmasters to decide on a markup schema and get the maximum benefit for their efforts. So, in the spirit of sitemaps.org, search engines have come together to provide a shared collection of schemas that webmasters can use.

“That makes some sense, I guess, but how does Schema Data Markup (structured data markup, rich snippets) work exactly?”
Glad you asked. When you apply scheme data markup to an HTML page, it alerts the search engines of specifics as to how to treat the page and what to do with the information on it. As with other markup formats, schema microdata is applied to the content of a page to define exactly what it is and how it should be treated. There are a number of types of schema data markups you can add to a page’s HTML code, all slightly different but with very important functions for a page.

There’s a certain hierarchy one must adhere to when inserting schema data markup or structured data markup into their pages HTML code. We snagged the following screenshot from the Google Developer blog that gives us a few examples of Schema Data markup for different types of businesses with different needs.

Google Schema Data Markup (structured data markup, rich snippets)

Schema Data Markup, also called structured data markup or rich snippets isn’t just flipping a switch. It takes a good deal of time and can be quite painstaking given the fact that you have to individually mark up each and every page on your site you want the schema on. But, when all is said and done, it is worth it. Since every one has a different way of writing out times and dates, Google and the search engine powers that be cannot digest the information the same. With Schema Data Markup, the universality of dates and times is recognizable and easily translated.

As far as how to implement schema data markup, it’s a fairly intensive process. You’ll find that schema markup has to be added manually to each page. If you have a site of thousands and thousands of pages, settle in for a long night of work. Smaller sites are at an advantage given they have fewer pages to markup. Follow the steps outlined in Schema.org Getting Started page to get started. When you think you’ve got your schema markup all set, head to Google’s Structured Data Markup Testing Tool (Google structured data markup helper) and make sure everything is working correctly.

Schema Data Markup and SEO

Implementing schema data definitely helps a search engine crawler understand what’s happening on your site in a more efficient and clear manner and enhances you internet marketing efforts. It’s not the easy fix (not just because it has to be done page-by-page), but it is a step in the right direction for your site.

Further, you don;t have to add structured markup language to each and every page on your site. (All webmasters with huge sites can breathe a sigh a relief.) No. Not every page needs to be marked up. However, the more pages you do add schema data markup to, the clearer your overall site message becomes to Google and other search engines. And that’s a good thing in terms of relevancy and interpretation of content.

The rundown on Schema Data Markup (structured data markup, rich snippets)

What schema data markup boils down to is somewhat simple:

Schema markup makes it easier for search engine crawlers read your site and display the information within it in an eye-pleasing and user-friendly way. There are a plethora of different types of markups for a variety of businesses, brands, sites, etc. And while there is no definitive SEO advantages or keyword ranking increases that can directly be attributed to schema data markup, there are other advantages. For instance, if more information from your site is displayed within search results, you will most likely see an increase in click-through rates, which is the ultimate goal of ranking on Google.

Adding schema data markup to your site is not a simple task, as we mentioned, but it is important. Given that Google is always changing its game, who’s to say they won’t require Schema Data Markup some time in the near future? (That is 100% speculation, but you know how they like to do that.)

Why not try out some Schema Data Markup on your site today? The SEO Inc. crew would be more than happy to discuss implementation with you should you need further assistance, especially for you larger sites.

About Garry Grant

Garry Grant is a veteran expert in search engine optimization and the digital marketing industry. With nearly 20 years of experience, Garry has successfully built a multi-service operation at SEO, Inc., developing proprietary technologies through complex strategic solutions. He has extensive experience in key initiatives and operational responsibilities grounded in information technology and performance management.

Garry’s expertise and esteemed reputation, coupled with SEO Inc.’s impressive client success record has earned him such accolades as Entrepreneur Magazine's 2005 Hot List for the Hottest Internet Property, Inc. 500 2007 Honorary award for Fastest Growing Private Company in America, an Inc. 500 top 50 Company in San Diego, and interviews with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post.

Garry Grant began his online career in 1993 creating strategic Web and e-business solutions for Homepage.com, The Rush Limbaugh Show, Premiere Radio Networks, Clear Channel Communications, EarthLink and Artisan Motion Pictures. Today, Garry and SEO Inc.’s highly skilled digital strategists develop proprietary technology and strategic digital marketing direction for Fortune 500 companies including, SC Johnson, McAfee, Entrepreneur.com., Inc Magazine, IGN, Tacorri, LPL Financial, National Kidney Foundation, G4 TV, Fuel TV and Sony, just to name a few.