The landscape of SEO looks different every year, and 2020 is no exception. Schema markup is turning heads across the industry, and for good reason–Google loves it. While it isn’t going to get you ranked overnight, schema is hugely important to stay relevant. I’ve created this beginner’s guide to schema markup to help you stay in the know and get started on your own website.

What Is Schema Markup?

Before you implement it on your website, you need to know what it is that schema does. Imagine you are learning a foreign language. You could learn how to pronounce words and how to read sentences first, but that won’t do you much good if you aren’t sure what the words mean. The first step is learning basic vocabulary and understanding context, so you are able to interpret full sentences. Essentially, schema is the basic vocabulary for Google. While Google can read your pages, it might not be able to put your content in context so it can understand user intent, so it relies on a universal language to tell it how to read content.

For example, if your page had content mentioning the Giants, you might mean the New York Football Giants. However, Google can only match up Giants to a user query–if someone was looking for information about the fictional creatures, your page wouldn’t be very helpful to them. Schema can help Google understand that you are talking about the football team, and therefore it is able to return relevant results to users.

What Are Rich Snippets? 

Rich snippets are the most visible benefit of properly implementing schema on your website. Not only will Google return more relevant results to users, but how they visually present them to users will change as well.

One of the most common types of schema are used for recipes. Here, Google is able to tell users right on the SERP how long the apple pie recipe takes and how many calories it is. Not only does this give users more information, but it makes your search result look more appealing and more informative than one without rich snippets.

google search

How Do I Use Schema Markup?

Schema looks hard. Don’t be fooled by the clutter of tags, though. If you can write basic HTML code, you can easily learn how to write basic schema.

There are three different types of schema: JSON-LD, RDFa, and Microdata. Each offers its own benefits, however, the easiest place to start is with Microdata. In this variation of schema, you simply add vocabulary from Schema.org to your existing HTML. While it helps to study and memorize as much of the extensive vocabulary as you can, this is a guide for beginners, so here is a helpful guide that lists all the types of schema you can use.

Let’s take an example directly from Schema.org to portray what microdata might look like in the backend. This is a snippet of HTML that should look familiar to anyone who has created a basic web page before:

HTML

This page is about the movie Avatar, but Google might not be able to contextualize that based on the HTML alone. Adding microdata will help it do that.

The first step is to specify that this particular section of text is referring to one item. This is done by adding the itemscope element:

 

HTML

Now that Google knows you are talking about one thing in this block of text, the next step is to tell it what that thing is. This is done with itemtype and itemprop.

HTML

Itemtype refers http://schema.org/Movie, informing Google that the item in question is a movie, and in the H1 element, you can include itemprop, which drills down one level further and tells Google that the name of the movie in question is Avatar. You can do the same with the director, genre, and the trailer.

Schema.org has a massive vocabulary to describe thousands of properties, and there certainly isn’t enough room in this blog to cover all of it. By looking at the list linked above, you can expand your skills as a webmaster and enter the new decade armed with knowledge that helps your website stand out to Google–they even said so themselves.

Once you’ve created a page for yourself using schema, test it out with Google’s helpful Structured Data Testing Tool. With a little trial and error, you’ll be shooting to the top of the rankings with rich snippets and relevant content before you know it.

Ryan Cassirer

Ryan is a sports junkie, craft beer enthusiast, and proud New Jerseyan who is blessed to be the Public Relations Coordinator and SEO Specialist for PCG Digital. When he's not busy branding or navigating Google, you can find him on the closest beach or in front of the closest TV watching the Giants, Yankees, or Devils.