Schema.org markup is simpler than it sounds. It is basically a collection of html tags that you can place on any given page of your website to help search engines understand the information on that page. It is a form of structured data markup, called microdata, that tells search engines what your page is about. It also affects the way the page displays SERPs (search engine results). Where we refer to html code as a language, you can think of schema.org markup as a vocabulary within that language.
Now that you’ve got the basics of what schema.org markup is, why should you take the time to markup your web pages with schema.org elements?
1. Rich Snippets
Rich snippets are what lead to the other benefits. And you can
only get rich snippets by using schema.org. Schema.org markup on a page will categorize specific bits of information and display it in a very neat, handy format in search engine results. A search engine result with this enhanced content is called a rich snippet, and the benefits of rich snippets are:
- More visually appealing search engine results
- Faster, more immediate information to users
- Draws user attention
- Improves CTR (click through rate)
- Improves (decreases) bounce rates
For example, a rich snippet can display a link, a picture, a date stamp, a rating, or a price. Here is a very “rich” snippet of a recipe and no so rich one:
Assuming you are looking for the perfect rice recipe for dinner, ask yourself which link you feel more enticed to click on. The first link with a picture, a four-star rating, and the time it will take you to prepare that recipe? Or the one without any of that? In case you’re not as enticed by pictures as most users, be assured that most people are likely to click on rich snippet results.
1. Google Supports Schema.org
Before you get too excited about rich snippets, there is more good news. Schema.org markup is also supported by Google, Yahoo, and Bing. In fact, Google only supports microdata, which is the format for schema.org. You can move forward in confidence with schema.org, knowing that you are using a truly valuable and relevant SEO tool, not something Google is going to flag as spam later.
2. Better SEO Results
Will a Google-approved, rich snippet result actually help you improve SEO? Well, yes. Schema.org markup can help improve your SEO in a number of ways. First of all, it tells the search engine what the page is about, which allows the search engine to give your page greater visibility on SERPs.
Also, by increasing your click-through rate, traffic, and user engagement on your site, you are building credibility with search engines.
1. Connect Ideas
The most surefire way to build credibility is to deliver fast, accessible, neatly presented information. Schema.org markup allows you to connect ideas and categorize information in a way that makes it easier to access. You can use schema.org on your site to designate a person, a physical address, a menu, a customer review, or any other type of content. Search engines can quickly and accurately scan information that is marked with schema.org tags, and display it appropriately.
This type of information categorization works for any business, any industry. You can categorize events (sports event, business event, sale event, etc.), people, videos, and just about anything.
1. Advantages of Switching
If you are currently using another form of structured data on your site, you should probably switch. The main reason is, of course, that the major search engines Google, Yahoo, and Bing support microdata over others (e.g. microformats and RDFa). All of these search engines focus on the same, single format: schema.org. And for good reason. Schema.org markup can do everything that other markups can do, but Google will continue to use schema.org markup to create even more rich snippets.
2. Simple to Use
It is actually easy to start using schema.org. Simply visit Schema.org, use Google’s free rich snippet tool, or use plugins with WordPress. Google’s tool also allows you to test your schema.org markup to ensure your rich snippets look awesome on SERPs. If you feel overwhelmed, start simple. Use schema.org markup only for those page elements that matter to your site. If you have a restaurant, then you may want to markup your location, hours, and customer ratings. If you are an e-commerce site, use schema.org markup to create rich snippets for specific products.
Remember that the main “umbrella” reason for using schema.org is to get rich snippets. All the other benefits revolve around how your search engine results appear to users. Schema.org and rich snippets together are quickly becoming one of the most relevant ways to entice users to choose to click on your site and to improve your site traffic almost immediately.