The last time you went to cook dinner and couldn’t think of a recipe for chicken where did you search?
Which sites showed up in the search results? Did you even notice?
Probably not, because Google served you a recipe for balsamic grilled chicken laid out completely at the top of the page. You didn’t have to scroll or click or do anything.
But, how did that recipe get there? How did Google know there was a recipe on that web page? Did Google hire thousands of new folks just to scour the internet for different types of content? No, the bots knew the recipe was there because the site implemented schema markup in their coding.
So then what is schema markup, you ask? We’re so happy you did because we will answer that question and how you can implement it on your site below.
What Is Schema Markup and Do I Need It?
Before we can talk about an actual schema definition and explain what is schema markup, you need to understand where schema came from. Once you understand the history you will quickly see that, while you don’t need it, you will want it to be all over your site.
The History of Schemas
The beginning of SEO looked very spammy. Keyword stuffing, crazy backlinks that made no sense at all. You could find pages in position one that said nothing but the keyword they showed up for.
This offered no value to the user because they couldn’t find what they were looking for, and no value to the website owner, because that kind of spammy content doesn’t convert.
When the major search engines realized there was no standard to hold a website too. It was the wild west out there. Users were getting frustrated because it was hard to find the real information they needed.
So, how do you build a program that can interpret the answers to user’s questions if there is no way to track content on web pages? You create a language.
It was a major collaboration that bore schema mark up. Schema.org is the brainchild of all the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex) to provide a way for web developers to make it easy for their bots to find and interpret content accurately.
What this did was allow coders to give all of their websites, or client’s websites, equal footing to make it to page one. This would increase the fairness and accuracy of search engine rankings.
Since schema’s first appearance in 2011, search engines have continued to hone in on how to accurately rank content. The past black hat SEO techniques are becoming obsolete in favor of earnest content creation and impressive user experience.
While it used to be common to use HTML, CSS, and JS in very specific ways the future of coding lies in unique coding combinations. By adding links in HTML and using schema markup the three coding styles work together to inform search engines and users of the site.
These new coding styles streamline the site, make it run faster, and allow search engines to understand what the site is about quickly.
Generating Your Own Schema Markup
In addition to the SEO plugins found in WordPress and other web design platforms, there are a plethora of free internet tools that will generate code for you.
Google’s own structured data markup helper asks you what the topic of your site is to determine the code. You pick a topic, enter the URL, and the generator does its magic.
The easiest way, if your site is on WordPress, is to use a plugin to help you implement schema. A good SEO plugin that is up to date will give you schema markup options anytime you’re publishing a new page or post. Plugins like these also run real-time audits to make sure you’re all good.
If you’re interested in marking up a whole site from scratch we recommend consulting a professional developer. The last thing you want to do is break your site while trying to boost rankings.
But Did I Do It Right? Tools to Check Your Schema Implementation
When you are first starting out with implementing schema on your site, you’ll want to refer to a cheat sheet. The key to creating error-free schema lies at the source, check for schemas describing your content at Schema.org.
They provide the coding for any type of markup you want to use. From organization to recipe, to blog article, that site will have all the code you need. But, how do you know if you did it right?
Google Structured Data Testing Tool
That’s where a great schema checker comes into play. The best place to start to see how Google will see your site is, well, Google. They offer a free structured data testing tool to see what shows up as schema on your URL.
Type in the URL of your site and it will show you a side by side of your site’s coding and the schema markup found inside it. It will also show you any errors found with your schema.
These schemas will be shown in the right-hand column. You can click into each different item to view the information found. Check this often to make sure you’re information is accurate and up to date. If you change something to correct an error you can run the report again to see if it got recognized as fixed.
You can then go into your Google Search Console and have the URL you corrected fetched as Google. Once the fetch is run, you can request the URL to be re-indexed so it can be considered again for placements on the Google search results.
Google Search Console Structured Data Report
Speaking of Search Console, there is a report for schema on there too. To see how Google is reacting to your markup you can check their structured data report from inside your Google Search Console.
This will also show you the pages on your site, where schema is implemented, and any errors present in your code. It will also offer helpful suggestions to solve those errors.
Once the errors have been resolved, remember to go back to the previous data testing tool and test your fixes. You’ll be able to tell right away if all is well. Then you can go back to the search console, fetch the site, and request re-indexing.
The report should reflect the accurate, error-free, structured data within a few days, sometimes just a few hours.
Yandex Webmaster Structured Data Validation Tool
If you’re outsourcing this project to your development team they can use a more advanced tool like the Yandex structured data validation tool.
This tool allows you to input URLs like the others but also lets you test source code before it’s implemented. Your team can create lots of schema code that applies to your site and check it in real time. This way, your development team can ensure the code is correct before plugging it into the code on your site.
This helps avoid needing re-indexing by Google if errors are found. This lets your site index and gain traction faster since it isn’t needing indexing multiple times.
While the search engines will eventually see that the site has been fixed, you want to put your best face forward when it comes to web design. If you have the option to make sure your content is accurate and error-free before publication, that is best.
The SEO game is complicated so you want to go through anything you’re publishing with a fine tooth comb. Any errors you can find and alleviate before the search engines find them will only boost your site in their eyes and you will be rewarded with better gains in the rankings.
Schema Markup is Essential to Modern Search Optimization and Web Design
So, again, what is schema markup? Schema markup is the coding that helps the bots crawling your site to understand what your website contains. The easier it is for the bots to understand what your content is the quicker your site gets indexed.
The quicker, and more efficiently, your site gets indexed the faster your site can get rewarded with positive movements in the SERPs.
A modern website needs to be quick, simple, and have useful content to your user. Schema gives the user even more clarification on what your site is about. It gets you into higher positions because the search engines know what you’re talking about and that you are using the most current web development techniques.
Want to know if you’re killing the schema game on your site? Get a free SEO audit of your website to find out. Looking for even more ways to rank your website in 2019? These are our other tips on how to show up in search in 2019.