Adding schema markup to your pages can greatly benefit users and search engines alike.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen many brands implement the wrong schema type and then have to undo their work across multiple pages. Sometimes, even with the right schema, the wrong expectation gets set on the impact it will have.
According to Google's John Mueller, choosing the right schema type all comes down to the relevance:
From our guidelines we want to make sure that the structured data you have on your page matches the primary element on your page.”
For enterprise-scale sites with thousands pages, matching structured data to each page's primary element is no walk in the park. But trust me, it's worth the effort.
Why? Because schema optimization provides Google with reliable content information, potentially enabling rich snippets in SERPs.
(Schema give this Google search result unique features, like the image and star rating.)
Not every schema update triggers a rich snippet, but that doesn't mean it's not valuable. Even without a snippet, schema still helps search engines understant your content better, increasing your chance of ranking for relevant keywords.
To help you use schema to enhance your SEO strategy, I'll go over the different types of popular schema and effective methods for choosing the right structured data for your page below.
Table of Contents:
Need a quick refresher on schema? We have just what you’re looking for: A Guide to Incorporating Schema Markup to Boost Your SEO.
The Cost of Implementing the Wrong Schema
Let’s step back for a moment and talk about what happens when brands implement the wrong schema type.
To start, they're being inconsistent with Google. Schema is essentially its own language, so when it's added incorrectly or inappropriately, you’re not speaking the right language or making it easier for the search engine to understand.
Google would rather focus on a website that gives them the correct information. They may not be confident in a search listing that has the wrong schema type, and ultimately not show that site on the SERPs!
That means reduced rankings, which is the opposite goal of any digital marketing strategy. Not to mention the loss of time it would take to revert the changes.
How Many Types of Schema Are There?
There are currently 797 types of schema and 1,453 schema properties.
All of these are hosted on schema.org — a collaborative, open library of different schemas in a number of different encodings, like RDFa, Microdata and JSON-LD.
Despite there being a few hundred schema types, some are more popular than others.
What Are Popular Schema Types?
You may already be familiar with popular schema types such as:
- Product markup (critical for ecommerce sites)
- Search action (seen frequently on publisher listings or ecommerce sites)
- FAQ schema (answer popular questions right on the results page)
- Event schema (we’ve seen real estate clients use this for open houses)
- … the list goes on!
(The search action schema lets users search a site directly from the SERP.)
There are even schemas designated specifically for local businesses. The LocalBusiness schema type lets you add information like operating hours, currencies accepted, and price ranges. Schema properties also exists for social media posts.
If one of the above schema types caught your eye, we have some specific resources you can reference:
- A Look at Product & Review Schema for Ecommerce SEO
- Looking to Capture Search Visibility? Implement the FAQ Schema.
- Schema Markup for Property Listings: Increase Your SERP Visibility
Or, read on to learn about choosing the right schema!
How to Pick the Right Schema
The few popular schema examples mentioned above don't even scratch the surface of how many options exist.
Navigate schema.org to find which schema type matches the content on your site (or better yet, content about to be built!). But how do you know what you’re looking for? There are a few ways.
Let's start with what Google recommends.
#1. Reference Google’s Structured Data Search Gallery
Google has a great resource that they call the Search Gallery and Rich Results.
Users can choose from eight industry categories and see relevant schema.
Here are your options:
- Food and Drink
- Education and Science
If you’re an ecommerce business, for example, Google offers further resources on book, FAQ, product, and review schema.
Organizations, for example, can choose logo, how-to, home activities, and plenty more.
The search gallery highlights the experiences Google wants to create for its searchers — a good clue to align your site with that experience!
The specifics of these schema (and plenty more) can all be found on schema.org.
#2. Look at the Competition
There are several other ways to pick the right schema, so don’t worry if your industry or category isn’t included in Google’s search gallery.
Look at what the competition is doing and consider replicating those efforts.
You can of course look at Google search listings, but remember that not all schema types result in a rich snippet on the SERPs. Consider using the “Inspect” option on a web page and searching for schema types in the search bar.
This will reveal any schema code loaded into the page, as we see here:
(Inspecting a code for any schema code.)
Not many people want to inspect multiple pages, especially not for multiple competitors. SEO technology allows you to hunt for schema at scale.
seoClarity users can enter in competitor URLs and filter by ranking URL features (i.e. event, price schema, FAQ, stock schema, star rating).
Let’s, for example, say we want to find all the keywords that trigger the price schema for H&M (our competitor in this hypothetical situation).
A quick filter sets our parameters:
(Filtering by the price schema in seoClarity's Rank Intelligence.)
And the keyword list is revealed, along with the search volume, rank position, and associated ranked page. This helps to identify opportunities and monitor the competition at scale.
(Queries that trigger the price schema and the respective ranked page.)
A cached version of the SERP confirms that these keywords did trigger the schema type on the results page:
(Confirmation that this schema does appear on the SERP listing.)
#3. Consider the Page’s Relevancy
Each schema type on schema.org has a unique description and intended purpose. Sometimes, it’s best to use your better judgement and ask yourself if a schema type is relevant to the page and its content.
But again, with so many options, how do you make the ultimate decision? Remember what John Mueller said about relevancy and matching the primary element of the page.
To put it simply, if the schema and content don’t align in a logical way then there’s probably a better schema type to implement.
For example, if you have a how-to guide with a small FAQ section at the bottom, you could utilize the FAQ schema as an add-on, but the HowTo schema type is your best option in this case to start. This is also a good reason to avoid using Product schema on category pages.
It all comes down to weighing the relevancy of the schema with the page and gauging whether or not that is going to make sense to Google.
Note: Mueller also points out that the search engine can combine certain schema types in one rich result, like the star rating and image. Remember that recipe example we saw above?
(This recipe schema has a star rating and image.)
Next Steps: Build and Implement Schema
Adding schema to further optimize your pages can cause some worry among SEOs because of the technical components involved (i.e. JSON-LD, Microdata, and RDFa code).
But you’ve made it this far!
Once you’ve determined which schema is right for your page, it’s time to create and implement the code.
#1. Build the Schema Snippet
Now, explaining the nuances of schema code and working it into the backend of your website could be an entire guide on its own (in fact, we put together a whole webinar on the technical best practices of schema).
Luckily, SEOs no longer need to know how to code to write schema code.
Not when there are tools like Schema Builder out there. This free Chrome plug-in operates on a point-and-click interface, so you can build and deploy JSON-LD schema code with a few clicks.
We really mean it! No coding required.
See for yourself: Schema Markup Generator: Build Structured Data Without Developers.
(SEOs can add schema with just a few clicks.)
#2. Implement the Schema at Scale
A time gap, tech gap, or resource gap usually prevents SEOs from implementing schema on one page, let alone at scale across tens of thousands of pages on an enterprise website.
But that was before Schema Optimizer.
It enables you to build, deploy and manage structured data sitewide, or in sections of a website, like "Products" or "Categories". Implement the code on one page, and watch as it goes to whichever pages fit your specified variables.
This one to many implementation method lets you implement schema with a few clicks.
#3. Test the Code
As a final step and precautionary measure, you may choose to audit your schema to confirm that it’s built correctly.
There are a few common issues with schema that can pop up, so a quick audit uncovers any potential roadblocks or hindrances so the schema can work to its full potential.
While Google used to offer its own testing tool, it's since been deprecated by the search engine. However, you can still use the Rich Results Test to verify if your page is eligible for rich results (and in turn, verify the code is solid).
To run a test at scale, there are also all-in-one SEO platforms that offer advanced crawl and site audit capabilities.
Hopefully by now you’re excited about the prospects of what schema can do for your business, and you already have an idea or two about which types you’d like to implement.
Remember, deciding on the right schema comes down to three things:
- Reference Google’s schema gallery to see what experiences they’re looking to create for their searchers
- Look at the competition
- Use your judgement to match the schema to the main element of the page
And don’t forget: SEOs and digital marketers no longer need advanced coding skills to use schema markup on their pages.
<<Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2021and has since been updated.>>