What is Schema markup?
Schema markup is a way of telling search engines about the content on your website. Google and Bing’s crawlers index millions of pages on the web daily, first by crawling the HTML and exploring links across the web, then indexing the data they find for web searchers just like you and me. For example, if you create a basic webpage and include your local business address, search engine crawlers may crawl and index that information without registering that it’s your business address specifically. There may have been other ways to infer that anyway if your business name, address and phone number (the holy NAP of local SEO!) are standard across web directories and citations, but by adding additional HTML tags, you can tell Google and Bing explicitly, “This is my address, so take note and index it as such!”
Even if you don’t know HTML, bear with me a moment and look at these two ways of displaying address information to search engines
<p>Candy on Main Street 123 Main St Madison, WI 53703</p>
<p itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/LocalBusiness"><span itemprop="name">Candy on Main Street</span> <span itemprop="address" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/PostalAddress"> <span itemprop="streetAddress">123 Main St</span> <span itemprop="addressLocality">Madison</span>,<span itemprop="addressRegion">WI</span> <span itemprop="postalCode">53703</span></p>
Yikes, okay that’s looks hideous to a human reader, but it’s crystal clear to a search engine. And notice how if you read through the second snippet of code, you can see the same business name, address, and zip embedded in the HTML next to tags like
itemprop="name" itemprop="address" itemprop="postalCode"
How does my web company add this search-engine-friendly info to my site?
If you’re not on WordPress but can add HTML to your website, we recommend using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper tool. Dig it, because this lets you open up your site, highlight the text you want to markup, then tells you what HTML to add to your site.
If your site is on WordPress, there are plugins that can do this for you. We use this RankYa plug-in for Get Found Madison’s website. Yoast has one, too, but it’s premium so it costs some money.
Once you’ve added it, you can test it out using Google’s testing tool.
Here’s what our blog page shows when you plug it in to this tool:
Something cool about the RankYa WordPress plug-in is that you can feed search engines information that human visitors to your site don’t see. Our footer doesn’t include postal address, hours, or country, yet all that information is being sent.
Note that the types of local business data you can mark up go way beyond just basic contact info. You can tell Google and Bing that content on your site is an example of the following (for starters):
Great so that’s the technical side, but…
What do Schema markup and rich snippets do for my SEO?
From what we know, Schema isn’t yet a ranking factor on Google. Here’s what Brian Dean found in his study of 1 Million Google Search results:
(See our post “What Do We Actually Know About Google’s Algorithm?” to learn more.)
That said, this falls under the same category at meta descriptions: it hasn’t been proven to boost your rank directly, but the rich snippets search engines sometimes display on their result pages can help increase click-through to your site. Click-through rate (CTR) can affect SEO rank, so think of meta descriptions and schema rich snippet markup as indirect factors.
If you could win more clicks to your site, wouldn’t you? Rich snippets is one more tool in the toolbox. Turn to it once your basic onsite SEO is in order.