In addition to traditional SEO practices, there are modern ways to improve your SEO, and schema markup (also known as structured data or microdata) is one such technique.
In this article, you’ll learn what schema markup is, why it’s becoming so important, and how to use schema markup to improve your SEO. Towards the end of this post, you’ll also learn how to use Google Search Console to fix structured data errors.
What is schema markup?
Schema markup is a way to ‘describe’ your content to search engines in a way that they can understand it.
This is done by adding pieces of code to your HTML that consist of predefined tags (semantic vocabulary) that search engines understand.
What does structured data look like?
As mentioned above, structured data is a set of tags added to your HTML code.
These are not visible to users, but can be read by search engines when crawling your pages.
Structured data can be in the form of microdata either json-ld.
Don’t worry if this is too technical for you because as we’ll see below, there are easy ways to add structured data to your website without knowing the basic technical details.
Here’s an example of what schema markup looks like:
Schema Markup Example
When Google or other search engines crawl a web page, its main goal is to find out what the page is about.
Crawlers can’t see a website like a human, but they process the HTML of a page trying to figure out different things like the meaning of the content, the date published, the author, and other things they find useful during the indexing process.
Schema Markup is compatible with major search engines
To make your job easier and faster, the major search engines have agreed on a set of common standards, also known as schematics.
Schemas cover many types of content, including articles, videos, images, but also different types of entities such as organizations, local businesses, people, and many more.
Pro Tip: Read How search engines work and watch the video to get a better idea of how crawling and indexing works.
Why is structured data important for SEO?
Although structured data is not yet part of Google’s ranking algorithm, it is still important for SEO for many reasons.
Prepare your website for the ‘future’ SEO
First, it is a feature that is gaining ground and Google has officially stated that it may be something that will be included in the ranking algorithm in the near future.
So, in addition to reaping the benefits outlined below, you also future-proof your website for SEO.
Make your search snippets informative and engaging
Second, structured data improves your website’s presence in SERPS with rich fragments.
This means that your entry in the Google search results will be more attractive and informative than others and this will lead to a better CTR (click through rate) and more visits to your website.
Structured data improves the presence of your website in SERPS
Google currently supports the following schemes:
- Bread crumb
- Corporate Contact
- Critical review
- data set
- Aggregate Employer Rating
- fact check
- job offer
- live broadcast
- Local business
- media actions
- Question and answer page
- review snippet
- Sitelinks search box
- social profile
Pro tip: you can see the search gallery for more information on each scheme.
Schemas are great for local SEO
Third, schematics are great for Local SEO. With structured data, you can provide search engines with more information about your local business, including address and contact information.
Paired with a well-optimized Google My Business page, it can boost your local SEO.
Structured data markup is required for Google Shopping campaigns
Fourth, it’s a requirement to run successful Shopping campaigns. When setting up shopping campaigns in Google Ads, you must have microdata on your product landing pages so that Google can verify the data submitted in your shopping feed.
Without microdata, it is very likely that your shopping campaigns are not optimized.
Schema is required for AMP pages
Accelerated Mobile Pages They rely heavily on structured data for some of their advanced features.
If you want your AMP pages to appear in the top stories carousel in mobile search results, you need to have structured data implemented in your AMP pages.
Structured data markup helps Voice SEO
Currently, when you search for something by voice on Google, it might give you a voice response if there is a featured snippet for that search term.
Open your Google Assistant and say “What is off-page SEO?”. You’ll most likely hear “According to reliablesoft.net off-page SEO…”.
Google is getting the response from my featured snippet. Having structured data on your page can help you Google featured snippet ranking and therefore greater exposure in voice searches.
How to add schema markup to your website
Now that you’re convinced of the importance of structured data for SEO purposes, let’s see how you can use it on your website.
Before getting into the implementation part, you need to know which structured data types to use.
Some common use cases are:
Blog: If you have a blog, you can use the website scheme to give Google information about your website, logo, name, etc. and also him article outline for your articles and blog posts.
e-commerce: For e-commerce websites, you can also use the product outline which includes details about your product, price, name, reviews, etc.
Local business: Local businesses can make use of local business scheme, as well as the scheme of the website.
Note: You can use more than one schema on your website as long as the implementation is correct. Use the structured data testing tool to verify this.
How to implement structured data on your website
There are 2 ways to add structured data to your website.
The first is manually i.e. by editing your HTML files and adding the required tags and the second is via a plugin or combination of plugins.
Google Structured Data Markup Helper (manual process)
To make the manual process a bit easier, Google has a tool called Structured Data Markup Helper.
With this tool, you can visually tag your pages and generate the required HTML code, but you still need to edit your HTML files or templates.
To get an idea of how this works:
- Open the structured data helper tool,
- Select the type of scheme you want
- Enter a URL of your website in the URL box
- Click Start
Google Structured Data Markup Helper Tool
The tool will load your web page in the left pane and in the right pane you will get a list of available tags for the selected scheme type.
All you have to do now is highlight areas of your website and assign tags to them.
Google Structured Data Markup Helper Tool – Tagging
When you’re done, you can view and download the generated structured data code.
It is recommended to use the JSON-LD markup format. The output generated is a script that you can insert into the HEAD section of your web page.
Structured data as JSON-LD markup
Before adding to your website, you can check using the structured data testing tool the validity of your code.
Add structured data using plugins (automatic way)
Obviously, the method above is not the easiest way to add schema information to your website.
If you’re on WordPress, the easiest way is to use a plugin, and luckily there are several plugins that can help you do this.
In most cases, you should add schematic information to your home page and to your article pages (if you have a blog) or product page (if you have an eCommerce website).
Add Schema Using Yoast SEO Plugin
The free version of the Yoast SEO Plugin has built-in support for a number of schemes including:
- Web page
- Video (Premium Version)
- Local SEO (via Local SEO plugin)
The good thing about Yoast SEO is that it handles schema information automatically.
You just have to go to SEARCH APPEARANCE – GENERAL and select if you are an Organization or a Person.
Add schema with Yoast SEO
When you add values to required fields and click the SAVE CHANGES button, the plugin will add the necessary JSON-LD markup script to your home page.
You can check using the structured data test tool what is added and if everything is ok.
Besides that, you can also click on SOCIAL and add the URLs to your social media pages.
The plugin will associate your page with your social media pages using the ‘sameas’ tag.
The layout of WEBSITE, ARTICLE and IMAGE is handled automatically by the plugin so you don’t have to do anything else.
An alternative to Yoast SEO that has support for more Schemas is the Schema: All-in-one Schema Rich Snippets plug.
How to check for structured data errors
In addition to checking your pages with the Structured Data Testing Tool, there are two more ways to troubleshoot structured data errors within Google search console.
URL Inspection Tool
You can use the URL inspection tool to inspect any page on your website.
Among other things, the generated report will show you errors related to structured data. Clicking on the error will give you more details.
Troubleshoot schema markup errors with the URL inspection tool
View reports under improvements Google Search Console section (left menu). Google will show you details about various features such as logos, products, sitelinks search box, and many more.
Google Search Console Improvement Report
Structured data is important for SEO and is something you will need to consider sooner or later if you want to stay in sync with modern SEO practices.
The first step is to check if your website is using markup data and the easiest way to do this is to use Google’s structured data testing tool and test your home page and other pages.
If you are using markup data but there are errors in the testing tool, then it may be easier to hire a developer to make the necessary fixes.
If you don’t have an outline on your pages, use the methods described above to add one.