Even if you’ve never heard of “schema” or “rich snippets” in an SEO context before, you’ve probably seen them in action a handful of times.
In a typical Google search results page, snippets of website pages are displayed as a simple text and link combination. But every once in a while, a search result stands out because it looks richer—with a supplementary image, video, star ratings, and other extra information or features beyond the basic page title and page description. These are called rich snippets or rich results, and they are made possible by implementing schema markup.
In this article, we’ll give you a rundown of what schema is, how it can help with your SEO, and how you can implement it in your website. To get you started, we’ll also explore 15 schema types that you can use to get rich snippets on search engine results pages (SERP).
What is schema?
Schema, also often referred to as “structured data”, is a piece of code used to mark up the content of a web page so that search engines can understand it better. It’s implemented using certain vocabularies that search engine crawlers are able to read—most websites use Schema.org, which is initiated by Google, Bing, and Yahoo in 2011, but there are also other vocabularies that you can use.
(Read more about the technicalities of structured data here.)
How can schema help with SEO?
In itself, implementing schema does not directly boost your ranking in a search results page, but it does help increase the relevance of your site since it makes search engines be able to understand your content better.
Schema markup also helps (or in most cases, is required) in achieving rich results. With rich results, your pages are bound to stand out to users and receive more clicks, which can eventually boost you up to a higher spot in the SERPs. And since rich snippets provide more details about a page within the search results page itself, users are better able to pick out the pages that are actually relevant to their query—meaning that when users do click on your page’s rich result, they have already decided that your site contains what they’re looking for, potentially decreasing your page’s bounce and exit rates.
Note, however, that implementing schema is not a guarantee that your page will show up in rich snippets. Other factors are still at play, like the quality of your content and the domain authority of your website as well as your competitors’. Still, it’s a nothing-to-lose situation that you can take advantage of as part of your SEO strategy.
How can you implement schema on your website?
Implementing schema is actually quite easy when you get into it, but it does take some time to properly mark up your website pages—not to mention the different schema types and properties available for use that can understandably seem overwhelming for some.
For instance, the core Schema.org vocabulary currently consists of 614 Types and 902 Properties, but you’re probably going to need only a small fraction of this number. So if you want to get started with implementing schema on your website, the first thing that you should do is decide which types you’re going to use.
Here are 15 schema types, along with examples of their corresponding rich snippets, that you may consider using:
These schema types are applicable for almost any kind of website:
1. Breadcrumb – A breadcrumb schema defines a page’s position in the website hierarchy. On a search results page, it shows up as a neat flow of web pages in place of the usual URL. Aside from looking cleaner, it also helps users gain a context into the page by seeing how it fits with the whole website.
2. Logo – The logo that represents your business or organization. This markup ensures that your logo is the image that appears in search results about your company, or in knowledge graph displays.
3. Sitelinks searchbox – This schema enables a search box that is scoped to your website to appear in a search result along with your pages. This helps users to do a more specific search about your website within the SERP itself.
4. Speakable – This is still in beta (as of December 2019), but this type identifies parts of a web page that can be read aloud on Google Assistant-enabled devices using text-to-speech. Adding this markup helps you reach the increasing number of users who do a voice search using Google Home or other devices.
These schema types can be used in websites for businesses and organizations.
5. Local business – This consists of details about a business, such as open hours, ratings, directions, and booking or ordering actions. This schema type allows your business to appear in a list or carousel of businesses when a user searches for a certain business category or a location-related query (e.g., “software developers near me”).
Aside from this, Google may also display a knowledge card with details about your business when a user specifically searches for your brand.
6. Job posting – If you have open positions in your organization, you can add a Job posting schema in your Careers page to get it included in Google’s interactive Jobs rich results. This displays your company logo, employee reviews, ratings, as well as the job details when a user searches for a matching job.
7. Review snippet – This schema type allows you to add review excerpts or an aggregate rating for your company as well as specific products or services.
On a search results page, it may show up as orange stars along with the rating and number of reviews or votes.
If there is an excerpt added, it may also appear in the page description.
Having a review snippet in your page helps it stand out to users (especially with the star rating graphic) and also inspires trust for your brand to your would-be site visitors.
These schema types are best used for websites with many published content.
8. Article – This type is used to mark up blogs, news, or sports articles published in a website. It enables your article page to appear in search results with a bigger headline and an image, increasing the likelihood of a user clicking on your article.
If you have an AMP mobile site, you’re also eligible for even more enhanced snippets, such as the Top Stories carousel on mobile search results.
9. Carousel – This schema type marks up your web pages that can appear in one sequential list or a gallery. A carousel in a search results page can display articles from a single website, or from different publishers.
10. How-to – If you have an article or a page that describes a series of steps for a certain task, you can use this schema markup to get rich results that can feature videos, images, and text within your page.
11. Video – You can use this schema type to mark up pages with embedded videos so they can show up with rich results including the video thumbnail, description, upload date, and the video URL.
12. FAQ – This schema type is used for FAQ pages that contain several questions and answers discussing a specific topic. This can enable your page to appear with a drop-down list of related questions, or as a featured paragraph snippet at the top of the page.
These schema types are applicable for e-commerce websites or marketplaces.
13. Product – This schema type marks up individual products with information such as the price, availability, and product ratings or reviews.
14. Software App – This is also currently in beta as of December 2019, but like the product schema type, it provides more information about your software app including the description, ratings, and a link to the app.
15. Book – If you sell books or e-books, you can use this markup to enable users to buy or order the book directly from the search results. These actions will appear along with the knowledge card that Google usually displays when a user searches for a specific book.
Implementing schema markup
Once you have chosen the schema types that you want to use, you can then start marking up your web pages.
There are two common ways or formats to add schema markup to your website:
1. Microdata – With Microdata, the schema is integrated right within the HTML of your page. This means you have to find the exact content you want to mark up and insert the schema type within the HTML tags for that content.
2. JSON-LD – On the other hand, JSON-LD inserts all of your markup into the head of the page instead of within the content itself, which makes for a simpler implementation. This is also Google’s own recommended format and what we use for our own schema implementation at 1902 Software as well.
Schema types and properties
In Schema.org, you can find a complete list of schema types and properties along with a short description for each, to guide you in marking up your content.
You can ask for your developer’s help or write the code yourself, but there’s also a variety of plugins and generators that can help you in forming your schema markup. Here are some tools that can help:
1. Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper – Using this tool, you can select the schema type you want to implement and input the URL of a page or paste its HTML.
It then displays a copy of the page and lets you highlight elements such as text and images, and tag them with the properties of your chosen schema type. When you’re done, you can generate a JSON-LD script that you can then insert into the head of your page.
Other schema markup generators that you can check out:
2. 1902 SEO+ Schema Builder – If you have an Umbraco website, you can download our free SEO package which has a built-in schema builder. Like the schema markup generators listed above, this allows you to select the schema type you want, fill out the Properties form fields, and automatically generate a JSON-LD script. Aside from this, 1902 SEO+ also provides other tools to help you manage your website’s technical SEO settings. Learn more about the package here.
3. Other plugins – Check out these plugins that help you manage your schema markup:
Validating your schema markup
After marking up your page, you can submit it to Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to check if there are any errors in your schema markup. Alternatively, you can also paste your JSON-LD script so you can check before publishing your page.
As mentioned before, implementing schema markup does not guarantee that your pages will immediately show up with rich snippets, if at all, on search results. You can, however, keep track of the pages you marked up through the Rich Result Status Reports in Search Console. Here, you can see which structured data Google can or can’t read from within your pages, as well as troubleshoot errors in your markup.
Need technical help?
If you want to learn more about implementing schema markup on your website, our project managers can help you. Contact us today.