How often have you searched for something online—say a phone number, local business hours or the weather—and immediately found the answer within the search results, without ever having to click through to another web page? Probably pretty often. Today, it’s rare to have to go beyond a search to get the quick hits of information you need, as illustrated below:
Event Mark Up Example
In fact, the majority of users searching for information find all they need with a simple Google search. The major underlying reason for this: Schema markup. It may be the biggest thing of 2018, yet there are few websites are optimized to leverage it and even fewer understand it fully. Regardless, the detailed “rich” search results Schema markup supports are defining which brands get maximum exposure.
Schema Mark Up 101
Before we get into why Schema markup is likely to be the most critical SEO strategy of 2018, let’s briefly explore what Schema markup is and how it works. Sometimes called data markup or structured data, Schema markup is most simply, the standard language of search engines. Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Yandex developed the Schema.org initiative in 2011 to maximize search engine capabilities. The common Schema markup language helps search engines better understand website content. There are different Schema markup types, which go by names like JSON-LD, Microdata and RDFa.
Aside from technical names, Schema language helps search engines understand what your website content means. For example, let’s say you are promoting Product X. “Product X” is just a bunch of random letters to search engines. Using Schema markup, you can tell the search engines exactly what Product X is, which dramatically impacts how the search engines display results in response to a search related to your product and what it does. The same would be true if you authored an article. Your name is just a bunch of random letters to a search engine. With Schema, you can tell the search engine who you are and that you are the author of the article. Simplified to the most basic level, Schema enhances the HTML tags you are already using to provide a more advantageous level of information to search engines, and therefore richer search results.
Why Schema Mark Up Matters
You certainly aren’t required to use Schema markup, but sites that use Schema show up in Google and other search engines in different ways, most specifically as rich results. Rich results pull key pieces of data into the forefront, making it easier for searchers to engage with your business without even touching your website directly. Adding Schema markup to your HTML helps search engines better understand your content and provide these richer results, which benefit your business.
The importance of Schema markup to search marketing is growing exponentially. In fact, 2018 might well be the year of Schema, given how much influence it is likely to have. For example, while Schema markup only affected a handful of “types” of Google results initially, like local business listings, today Google is increasingly adding Schema.org language to an ever-growing list of search features. This doesn’t just apply to text search. The increasingly popular voice search option on mobile phones and other devices is also influenced by Schema markup. With Schema, voice searchers get a much more detailed response, more likely to answer their question in one go. Businesses savvy enough to leverage Schema markup will increasingly outmaneuver competitors when it comes to search ranking and marketing.
Using Schema Mark Up to Your Advantage
Google has been encouraging everyone to get on board when it comes to Schema markup in ways big and small, and, when Google says pay attention, it pays to do just that. Given your existing website structure, how do you take back control of your brand and business information and maximize SEO given the new world order? You don’t need to be an expert in Schema markup to profit from the coming changes, but it is wise to get up to speed on the basics of Schema markup and then speak with your web provider or seek out a partner who can help you make the most of your site. Not only will you immediately benefit in terms of depth of results, but as Google continues to increase the number of search items that rely on Schema markup, you will be far ahead of the game.
Right now, you can use Schema markup to better position your:
- Store Hours
- Product Catalogs - Prices, picture descriptions etc
- Phone Numbers
- Special Offers
- Navigational Items Like Bread Crumbs and Menu Items
There is also anecdotal case study evidence that suggests sites with Schema markup already experience higher click-through and time-on-page results, as well as more visits.
And don’t think search and indexing are immune. Google reps have repeatedly stated that the better their search engine “understands” your page—e.g., the more Schema markup can direct it—the better the rank and indexing. That alone is a powerful motivator to get your Schema in order.
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