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Using Schema Markup for SEO

Schema.org is a collaborative, community activity with a mission to create, maintain, and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet.”

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Popular types of schema, or data types, include events, reviews, and people, but there are many more available to identify the type of data on your webpages.  Although it is still not frequently utilized, it may result in an improvement with your SEO when it’s done correctly.  There are some questions about whether or not using schema will really move your site up in the search results, but rich snippets that display in the results could increase your click-through rate.  When users see this additional data about your content, such as the number of starred reviews, date, or author information, it helps your result stand out from the others in organic search.

Schema markup is code placed on a website to help the search engines return results to users. It goes beyond what your data is to what your data is about and what it means.  If you are familiar with HTML, you know that tells browser how to display information about a website.  For example, the all-important title tag is presented in HTML markup as <title></title>.  That’s the code that tells the browser you are referencing the title of a particular page, but does not offer insight about what that title means.

If your HTML knowledge is 101 and you don’t consider yourself a coder, that’s no problem.  There is no need to be scared off by schema.  Fortunately Google does offer a tool to help you identify places on your website that can be marked up.  Using their tool simplifies the schema markup process.  Once you go to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper, you can select your data type and include the URL for the page you want to mark up.   You choose the option to “Start Tagging” and the page you referenced for tagging will load in the markup tool. On the left side of your screen, you will see your webpage and the right hand side will have have the data types listed. Simply highlight the areas you want to mark up and select the corresponding data type on the right. Once you are finished, you “Create HTML”, which generates the code placed on your website.  Once you have added that to your site, you are finished.  (As a side note, you can also use this tool if you’re wondering whether schema is already on your website and if there are errors).

There is obviously a lot of available data types on Schema.org, but I want to point out the local business options since local is so important to search.  With schema, businesses can display key information, such as their hours and business reviews.  Before stepping into the world of schema for local search, it is a must to first have information listed correctly on the website with the all-important NAP (name, address, phone number).  In addition to listing contact information, businesses on a small budget can publicize local events.  With schema, they can highlight events so they are easily found in search for local happenings.

To see how this markup looks on your site once it is set up, use the Structured Data Testing Tool.  From here, you can see what your page looks like with this new code on your site.  You’ll have a sneak peek of how it is displayed in Google search.  The more you can markup on your site, the better it is for your search results.  Since it is a time consuming process, select the most important pages on your site.

If you are still skeptical about whether or not this will help your rank, remember that this came out of a collaboration between Google, Yahoo, and Bing.  If the major search engines seem to think it is important, you definitely want to at least try it out.

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