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What Is Schema Markup & Why Does It Matter for SEO?

Schema markup provides a structured system to categorize and label information on the internet. It’s a bold idea with a far-reaching impact on the future of search. So why should you care? In the short term, adding schema markup can boost visibility and improve click-through rates in search. In the long term, you’re future-proofing your content for the evolution of indexing.

Jan 31, 2023

7 m read

Schema markup is a term for structuring data on a web page to improve how search engines understand the content presented and how they ultimately display it in search results.

Implementing schema markup on your pages will help search engines recognize the data items they can use to enrich your search result snippets with more information.

Why Is Schema Markup Important? 

The future of search engine results

Structuring data with schema markup provides the context to help major 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, relevant content.

Why you should implement schema markup 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 those who can benefit from your products and services.
the difference schema markup makes

Evidence indicates rich snippets can improve your click-through rate (CTR) by 35%. And according to SEMrush Sensor, more than half of Google SERPs feature rich snippets. To capitalize on this, site owners should use schema markups to gain greater visibility. Take a deep dive into rich snippets in this article.

Schema Markup Terms, Defined

So far, I’ve tossed around a few terms you might be unfamiliar with, so let’s back up and lay down some definitions.

What’s The Difference Between Schema Markup, Schema.org, Microdata, JSON-LD & Structured Data?

Structured Data

Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page. It allows users to classify its content by pairing it with a value that helps search engines index and categorize it.

Microdata

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 the URL, page title, and meta description — that’s helpful to searchers.    

JSON-LD           

JSON-LD is another form of structured data. JSON-LD stands for JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data. It’s similar to microdata in that it helps search engines interpret the elements on a page.

Google has expressed a preference for this implementation format. Web developers find JSON-LD easier to implement than microdata because it can be applied across an entire section of similar pages by adding it to header (<head>) code. This is how I recommend site owners who have website development resources implement structured data on their sites.

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 source code from a schema 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

Schema.org is a collaborative project founded by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex. It uses an open-community concept to develop an agreed-upon set of definitions for various schema tags, collectively called schema markup.   

Schema and SEO

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 in search results 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 how to write schema markup?

The answer: Data schema qualifies your content for rich results like rich cards, rich snippets, and the knowledge graph. All of these options will boost your search snippet’s search engine visibility, which can improve your click-through rate and drive more traffic to your page.

Types of Schema Markup

The schema.org vocabulary includes formats for structuring data around various people, places, and things. You can find the full list of items that schema can define here.

These are just a few things you can use data schema to define: 

Learn more about when and how to use different types of schema here.

How To Add Schema Markup to Your Web Pages 

I’m going to walk you through how to add markup items to pages using the process I recommend for site owners who don’t have web-dev resources. If you have a large website, I recommend you reach out to a technical SEO consultant to help you implement JSON-LD through a more scalable method.

Below, I’ve listed some free tools available to help you generate schema data and create HTML for your pages. 

For this guide, I’ll pick one of those tools and walk through how I generated my code snippet for the FAQs at the bottom of this page.

Remember, this process will look a little different depending on the markup type you’re implementing.

  1. Go to Merkle’s schema markup generator tool and select ‘FAQ Page.’
what is schema markup - screenshot showing how to generate faq schema markup

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.

  1. 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.
screenshot of how to generate schema markup for faqs

You can see that the generator is adding my questions and answers to the code as I go.

  1. To test the code, click the Google button in the top right corner of the page.
screenshot showing generated schema markup
  1. And select ‘Structured Data Testing Tool.’
step-by-step guide for adding schema to a page
  1. This opens the Schema.org validator tool and pastes your code into it.
screenshot of schema.orgs validation tool
  1. Press the green arrow to validate the code.
screenshot showing validated website markup
  1. Zero Errors or Warnings. We’re good to go!
  2. I copy the code that’s been dynamically generated.
how to add schema markup to a webpage
  1. And paste it into the HTML on the page. (There are directions below for how to view code on your WordPress pages.)
screenshot of JSON-LD code added to HTML

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.

  1. When you look at the page with your visual editor, you’ll see something like this:
screenshot that shows how JSON-LD markup looks in the view editor of wordpress
  1. When you preview your page, you’ll only see the HTML.
screenshot of page preview after adding schema markup to the page.

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.

Learn more about how to read the GSC Structured Data Report here.

Free Schema Markup Tools

As you dive deeper into adding schema data to your pages, you might find some of these tools handy.

  1. Structured Data Markup Helper
  2. Merkle Schema Markup Tool
  3. Schema.org’s Structured Data Testing Tool 
  4. Google’s Content Markup Guide 

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 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. I recommend always starting with pages that are core to your SEO efforts.

Remember, what is schema markup going to help you do? Improve your click-through rate.

Where is that going to matter most? On pages that are already ranking. 

Since marketers are working with finite resources, my advice is to prioritize the activities that can make the biggest impact on your SEO. Does it hurt to add schema markup on every page? No, as long as you’re using it correctly. 

Once you’ve added schema markup to strategically important pages, 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.

screenshot of how to access WP code in Gutenberg editor

In the classic editor, toggle the view by clicking on the text tab.

screenshot of how to access code in wordpress

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 too 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 structured data vocabulary 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 search result visibility.

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