What is Schema.org?
In simple terms Schema.org is a collection of structured data markup tags.These structured data markup tags are used along with HTML tags.These tags are used to provide more details about your website content to search engine.
Search Engines have become complicated with time.It has came great distance and consistently every now and then changes in search algorithms take place to improve it and make it more meaningful.
Apart from search algorithm changes new ways are proposed with time for providing more information to search engine and help them show relevant search results.One of the most important initiatives for providing more information to search engines is Schema.org markup tags.
For example you have written a post on Orange club.Now a visitor is searching for Orange fruit.Should you web page be returned in search results? Your web page should rank for Orange club not for orange fruit.Schema.org tags help you tell search engines that your webpage is about orange club.All major search engines like Google and Bing are supporting these tags.
Need of Schema.org
There are few structured data markup tags in use nowadays.Major ones are
Webmasters are often confused about the structured data markup tags to use.Due to increasing number of such standards search engines felt the need of an agreed upon standard.Having an agreed upon standard will also help website owners.They will have to concentrate on adding one structured markup data tag only.
Schema.org answers all above concerns.It is supported by all major search engines (Google,Bing,Yahoo and Yandex).So you can use them and rest assured that all search engines will support it.Also there is no need to replace the tags in very near future.
Task of search engines will also get easier if majority of web uses a single format.It will ease pressure on their algorithms as well.In this post I will discuss in detail about usage of these tags to increase your search engine visibility.
SEO with Schema.org
Schema.org is here to stay and will gain importance in future.Just like Sitemaps have become important SEO element.Sitemaps were also agreed upon standard by search engines.Now sitemaps have become important ingredient of search engine optimization.
Similarly Schema.org structured markup tags will become important with time.So you should include it in your SEO plan.Now lets understand how proving more information about your content will help you in search engine ranking?
On Page Optimization with Schema.org
Lets understand usage of Schema.org tags in On page optimization.Lets understand it with an example.You have taken a cool picture.You wrote a post around it and published it.You can embed the picture in your post with HTML <img> tag or using content management system upload method.
Schema.org image tag example
<div itemprop="photo" itemscope="" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject"> <h4 itemprop="name">Headline of your Image</h4> <img itemprop="contentURL" title="image title" alt="image alt text" src="link to image" /> <meta itemprop="author" content="image author name (you)" /> <meta itemprop="datePublished" content="date image was taken or published" /> <meta itemprop="description" content="describe your image here" /> </div>
In both the cases the best you can do is to write ALT text for the image.ALT text (alternate text) gives more information about the picture.Usage of ALT text for an image is mentioned in almost all SEO guides and tutorials for images.
But Schema.org helps you provide more information about your picture in addition to ALT text as mentioned above.You can add author of the picture,description of the picture,date it was taken or published and title of your image along with your SEO approved ALT text.
This helps search engine understand your image better.Search engines value this help from yours and your images start to rank higher in SERP.The information given above helps Search Engines determine context of your image.So for search queries matching context of your image your image will rank higher.
The image tag also adds semantic information to your image.Search Engines are able to extract this information (or at least starting to do this with time) and use it ranking algorithm.With increase in On Page Optimization factors and semantic search this will certainly help bloggers.
SERP CTR with Schema.org
Ranking well in search engine is not end of SEO.I must get the rank converted to traffic.You have written a great review about a product.The page is shown in first page of SERP.But searches are not clicking on your SERP link for some reason.This will make search engine think that your page is not relevant to this search term.
With time your search engine ranking will move down and might get disappear from page one.On the other hand if more searchers click on your SERP link you will see increased search engine ranking with time.Search engines will think that you content is relevant to visitors.
Schema.org review tag example
Increased CTR does help you move up in SERP.So increasing click through rate is also important.CTR is defined as Number of times your page appeared in search/number of times people clicked on the search result * 100.So if your page appeared 4 times and visitor clicked on it once then your CTR is 25%.
Schema.org does help you increase your CTR.Lets again take example of product review for SERP CTR.You might have seen STARS on Google SERP page.The STARS are generated using REVIEW tag of schema.org.Visitors seeing the STARS will immediately get an idea about items quality and will in turn click the link to visit your website for details.
In above image you can see impact of Schema.org in SERP page display.You can see STARS and the rating along with name of person who reviewed it.The date of review is also displayed.All this information help visitor get an idea about the product and reviewer as well.This will indeed catch attraction of visitors and help you get more clicks than website not using it.
So schema.org tags does help you increase CTR of your website.Due to this very reason big websites like WordPress.org have already started using these tags.The impact of other tags on SERP page will be visible with time so I am not making any remarks on that.
When to use Schema.org tags?
Above we have seen that these tags are important for search engine optimization and also increasing click through rate.So these tags should be part of our post or page.But there is also a word of caution attached with it.We should not overuse these tags.Search Engines are making progress to support and extract as much information as possible from these tags.But still it is in early stage.
Overuse of these tags might not have immediate impact.But if misuse or overuse starts then search engines might roll another algorithm update to counter this problem.So it is better not to overuse it.
Lets understand this with an example.You have written a great post about a mountain with picture of mountain as well.You can use Schema.org Mountain tag in that post with good effect.This does complement your post content.This works well for you and search engines as well.
Now compare above situation with a post about Tourist location with single mention of a mountain at that place.In this case you can use Schema.org Tourist Attraction tag.This will work fine as you post center topic is Tourist Location.But it will be overuse if you use both Mountain tag and Tourist Attraction tag.
So the rule should be only to use these tags for main subject of your post.If you do not have a post with such feature then there is no need to use these tags.I am using these tags not on all posts but some which do need usage of these tags.
Schema.org SEO concerns
Many do worry that search engines may use these excess information and display that on SERP page.Visitors will get required information on SERP page itself.This will harm websites as visitors will not visit websites to get the information.This is indeed true if visitor is searching for one line answer.
For example a visitor is searching for Station code of a particular place.Your post ranks for that search term.Visitor can easily see the Station code.There is no need to click on your SERP link and visit your website.Google is showing customized SERP meta description based on search query.So that piece of content giving station code will be shown on SERP page.
Similar is the case if visitor searches for Latitude or Longitude or pin code of a place.If you have a webpage using Place schema.org tag giving latitude and longitude information or pin code information of the place.Search Engines can easily fetch latitude or longitude or pin code information of the place from your web page and you are helping it using Schema.org place tag.Visitor may not visit your website if he/she is concerned with that information only.
Except the cases where searcher is looking for specific short answers (displayed within 100 characters) all other cases will work in favor of website owners.Clicking on result of a SERP also depends on visitors interest.If a visitor is interested after reading meta description shown on SERP page or review rating shown on SERP page he/she will go ahead and visit the website.
How to address Schema.org SEO concerns?
Above concerns are true for websites offering short and quick answers to queries of above nature.But blogs are meant to offer in depth (or more information). So in my opinion you should not be that concerned about above pitfalls of using Schema.org tags.
But in case you do not want to help search engines fetch quick answers from your website then you can modify schema.org tags slightly.You should not use parameters which give quick answer.I guess this is the way to go about it.
Common Schema.org questions
Should I use Schema.org Article tag or Schema.org BlogPosting tag ?
This question came into my mind while working with these tags initially.I thought which of the two tags should I use on this website.After spending some time understanding these tags I laughed at myself.The answer was pretty simple.To put in simple words a content marked with BlogPosting tag is also Article tag.
BlogPosting tag inherits properties from Article tag.As per Schema.org design BlogPosting,TechArticle,NewsArticle,ScholarlyArticle are all siblings of Article) .Inheritance is key principle in understanding Schema.org design.But for non tech users you can use any tag below other main tag as shown in Full Hierarchy page here.
I am reproducing screen shot of Article tag and BlogPosting tag hierarchy.
How many properties to use of a tag?
This is another common question.For example BlogPosting tag has approx 50 odd properties.So if you are using BlogPosting tag is it important to use all fifty properties.How many properties to use?
The answer is you should use only basic properties.These is no need to write content just to fit in the properties.You can write your content as you do and add properties which makes sense naturally.For example if you are writing a post and it contains an image then you can use MediaObject property of article or blogposting whichever you are using.But there is no need to use reviews property if it is not about product review.
More tag I use better it is
Schema.org tag does help in increasing CTR and On Page SEO.But recall once keywords used to be an important factor.That time many webmasters (knowingly or unknowingly) started using it heavily.Heavy usage of keywords became negative factor in SEO.You should Schema.org tags relevant to your content.Overuse of these tags might became negative for your SEO.So use only tags related to your content.
In case you have some queries or points to add feel free to add them using comment section below.
Adding schema.org tags
Adding Schema.org tags to your post or page
Schema.org tags gels well with HTML tags so using them is easy.You have to add them in HTML tags.This is an easy task.WordPress ships with Editor which has visual mode and HTML mode.Other popular Content Management Systems also ship with Visual Editor similar to WordPress.So the steps mentioned below will be applicable to them as well.
- In WordPress we go to Add New option under posts or pages to create new post or page.This step will remain the same.
- Add New displays the Editor.You can see Visual and Text mode on right corner of the editor.
- Write your post in any mode you want.
- Now before adding Schema.org tags switch to Text mode.
- Copy and paste the modified tags you download from download link given at the end of the post.
- Publish the post.
If you theme comes with Editor Style option then you can switch to Visual mode after adding Schema.org tags.But if your theme does not come with Editor style sheet then do not switch to Visual mode after adding the tags.This is important.If you switch to Visual mode after inserting the tags the HTML tags will be lost.
The above process remains the same for all Schema.org tags.
Adding Schema.org tags to your theme
Adding schema.org tags to your post is easy task.But adding them to your theme is lot more complicated.You need to modify most of your theme files and HTML.This is not recommended if you are not developer.Good understanding of Schema.org tags is required to implement them on theme level.
There is no need to modify theme and add these tags really.You can add these tags to your post or page and enjoy all the benefits of these tags.Adding them to your theme is complicated and not worth the effort.
How to verify Schema.org tags?
The tags shared within download document are all verified.But it is better to verify the same at your end after customizing it.Google has started Structured Data testing tool.You can use the tool to verify your schema.org tags.
You can also see How your page will be displayed on SERP page.This is important if you are using tags like Review.You can access the tool using this link.You can paste your URL or customized HTML and verify the tag.After verification you can add the code to your post or page.
The image in this post shows verification of Schema.org review tag using Google rich Snippets (or Google Structured Data Testing tool).
Is this site using Schema.org tags?
I have written this article after using Schema.org on this site with success for few months.I am using these tags for quite some time.In case of video SEO these tags are more beneficial (or I can see much benefit from them).I will cover video seo in future post because it is not only schema.org topic.
This site is using below Schema.org tags
- and other tags based on content of a post (like HinduTemple,RiverBodyofWater and others)
You can download verified Schema.org tags (commonly used only) using this download link.I have currently included Image Tag,Video Tag,Review tag and Tourist Attraction tag.Other tags will be included on your input..
Feel free to share this post if you found this helpful.I will like to know your experience and thought on Schema.org usage.