4 ways to improve SEO with schema and structured data
The Web is getting more complex, which means good SEO is getting harder and harder. While Google’s crawlers are getting more advanced, they’re still not perfect and sometimes have trouble deciphering information they discover on the Web.
This is where schema comes in.
Schema.org is a collaboration by the major search engines to create a consistent language that helps them understand entities and their relationship to one another. Structured data is one of the best ways for you to communicate important information about your website to Google.
At it’s essence, schema is code typically written in HTML or JSON (I prefer JSON) that helps Google better understand the data on your website. Google has attempted to incentivise the use of schema by displaying rich snippets for domains that use them. These rich snippets are essentially additional text or images that will result in a user being more likely to click on your result. No matter what industry you’re in, you can utilize website schema to help Google better understand your website’s information and improve your SEO.
Official Documentation: https://schema.org/Organization
Even if you are brand new to the concepts of SEO and structured data as a whole, Organization schema is fairly straightforward and easy to wrap your head around. No matter what industry you belong to, as long as you are a business that sells products or services, Organization schema can be used on your website.
So what is Organization schema? Essentially, what this markup will do is signal to Google crucial information about your website. Within this structured data you can include business information such as your name, address, phone number and associated social profiles (Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, etc).
Organization schema can help your website in a number of ways. It can send clearer information about your business to Google. This is especially crucial for Local SEO where it’s important that your name, address and phone number are consistent across the Web. As well, Organization schema improves your chances of receiving a Knowledge Panel. Here it will be especially important to use same properties to associate your Wikipedia page and social profiles.
Industry-Specific LocalBusiness Schema
Official Documentation: http://schema.org/LocalBusiness
For some industries, you can make your structured data a little more specific than the Organization schema above. Instead of simply telling Google: “I am a general organization with the following information”, you can give the search engines more detailed data on what your business does. So what kind of industries have LocalBusiness schema available to them?
Insurance Agents? Check
Your local mechanic? Check
Whatever broad category defines your industry, try Googling “[Your Profession] Schema” and see if any results come back. If you find one that fits your business, you should use that in place of the Organization schema to be more specific.
Once again this will help Google get a better understanding of your business. As well, in the future, Google could very well offer some sort of rich snippet for your particular industry. If this occurs, you will be well set up for any algorithm changes that may occur.
Official Documentation: https://schema.org/BreadcrumbList
If you’re not using a breadcrumb on your website, I would recommend you consider doing so. Breadcrumbs can be a great way to improve the user experience of a website as they will allow users to navigate through the different page levels with little effort. As well, they can also improve the internal linking structure which is crucial for better distributing link equity throughout your site.
If you’re using a breadcrumb, great! Now it’s time to mark up it up with BreadcrumbList structured data. The BreadcrumbList schema will define each URL in the breadcrumb to Google. This can be beneficial because you can generate a clean looking breadcrumb rich snippet in the search results.
More importantly, you will be giving Google detailed information about the structure of your website. This may not have tremendous advantages if you manage a small ten page website. However, if you have a large eCommerce store, this is extremely useful information to pass along. Google’s crawlers often have a difficult time crawling these large websites and they can potentially spend a lot of time looking at pages they shouldn’t.
However, by implementing the BreadcrumbList schema, you will be giving Google clear information about the hierarchy of your website. This will give it better guidance on how to crawl and discover the pages on your domain. In my experience, if you can make Google’s job easier, this is likely to have a positive impact on rankings.
Official Documentation: http://schema.org/AggregateRating
Of all of the structured data on this list, AggregateRating schema probably has the most tangible results. If implemented correctly, this type of structured data rewards websites with bright yellow stars that appear in the search results. The final outcome is that search results that display these stars typically end up with higher click through rates. Higher click through rates obviously leads to more organic traffic.
Not surprisingly, this type of schema is extremely popular amongst eCommerce stores as specific product queries typically trigger results with review star rich snippets. For product-centric websites, implementing this type of schema is an absolute must as Google is either already displaying review stars for your target queries or could possibly show them in the future.
However, even if your website isn’t eCommerce, it could still be worth exploring the possibility of implementing AggregateRating schema. There are many examples where websites with non-physical products or services could benefit from this structured data. For instance, after performing a search for “laptop insurance” I can see that Google is displaying review star snippets for the query:
To find an example of review stars, I had to navigate all the way to the fourth page of the search results. None of the websites on the first page have these review stars displaying. This presents a good opportunity for the company to first implement AggregateRating schema on their landing page.
At the end of the day, schema is going to help take your SEO to the next level. As companies invest more and more into in-house and SEO agencies, it’s getting increasingly more difficult to compete in the limited real estate of the organic search results. Implementing good schema will help give your website an additional competitive advantage and can result in Google being more likely to rank your key landing pages.