If it feels like SEO is evolving every day, that's because it is - search engines are constantly trying to determine how to get information to searchers in the most effective, simple way possible.
Which brings me to one of the most under-used, perhaps unappreciated evolutions of SEO: schema markup. Schema markup affects your SEO by helping search engines understand what the data they're pulling from your website actually means, giving you more opportunities to reach the people looking for that specific information.
What is Schema Markup?
Schema markup is a kind of microdata that creates an enhanced description that shows up in search results - also known as a rich snippet.
Let's use search results for VIEO as an example for a rich snippet:
See the Our Team, Portfolio, VIEO Design Blog, and Contact links? All of those are thanks to Schema markup!
Schema markup code helps search engines give as much helpful information as possible to searchers by helping them understand exactly what it is that you're talking about!
Schema Markup In Action
You probably know that a search engine's interpretation of what someone means when they type a query into the search bar determines how useful the results are going to be. You also probably know, as an English speaker, that words sometimes mean many different things.
Let's say I'm hungry (I usually am) and in the mood for something sweet but not too unhealthy - ooh, some dried dates sound tasty! Curious about how much sugar they have, I type "date" into the search bar expecting nutritional information and am promptly informed that it is Wednesday, September 19, 2018.
Okay, that's not very helpful for my growling stomach. Well, I'm hungry enough that I don't care how much sugar is in one anyway; I'm just ready to go buy some! So I type in "dates near me."
Great, now I know that it's Wednesday and there are a good many local singles in my area - but I still don't have any info that I actually wanted, and I'm still hungry.
When I finally type in "dried dates," the search engine understands that I mean the fruit and not local singles in the nearest desert. And there was great rejoicing.
This is a simple example (and not the best searching practices on my part), but it shows how important schema markup can be for specifying what kind of dates - or your topic of choice - your web page is about.
I'll let the experts at Schema.org give another example:
...<h1>Avatar</h1> tells the browser to display the text string “Avatar” in a heading 1 format. However, the HTML tag doesn’t give any information about what that text string means—”Avatar” could refer to the hugely successful 3D movie, or it could refer to a type of profile picture—and this can make it more difficult for search engines to intelligently display relevant content to a user.”
Schema markup helps search engines help users - which is the whole point of SEO!
How Schema Markup Affects SEO
Your website gives data to search engines all the time - but schema tells the search engines what that data means. It affects the way your content is indexed and returned to users in a way that is more helpful and useful for them.
Here's another example from Neil Patel:
...let’s say the word “Neil Patel” appears on an article. The search engine sees this, and produces a SERP entry with “Neil Patel.” However, if I put the right schema markup around the name “Neil Patel,” I’ve just told that search engine that “Neil Patel” is the author of the article, not just a couple random words. The search engine then provides results that display better information for the user who was searching for “Neil Patel.”
So, schema markup makes your website more user friendly, and good user experience is something that search engines look for when relevant, useful links to searchers. Plus, webpages with rich snippets appear more prominently in SERPs, leading to better visibility and improved click-through rates.
Despite how helpful schema markup can be to your search engine results, Search Metrics shows that only 0.3% of websites are making use of the Google-approved Schema tool. Is your website one of them? You can check your schema in our free local listing tool - just type in a few quick details about your business to see where you stand.
That tiny statistic means millions of websites aren't taking advantage of this SEO potential! Using Schema.org's markup can put you ahead of many competitors who haven't yet started using schema.
In short, schema markup helps your users find what they need quickly and helps search engines provide that information reliably to the people who are looking for it - and it's fairly simple to implement. With the SEO potential of getting ahead of the literal millions of websites who haven't started using schema markup, why not add it to your website today? VIEO Design's web design and development team is here to help!