Adding schema to your pages can offer great benefits to users and search engines alike.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen many brands implement the wrong schema type who have then had to undo their work across multiple pages.
Or, the right schema was implemented but the wrong expectation was set on the impact.
Need a quick refresher on schema and structured data? We have just what you’re looking for: A Guide to Incorporating Schema Markup to Boost Your SEO.
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.”
Which, admittedly, can be hard to determine when you operate an enterprise site with thousands of pages and have thousands of schema types to choose from.
But enhancing a site’s content with structured data from schema.org is a worthwhile principle! It gives more information to Google about the content in a reliable way. Google even leverages this trust and can show the listing in a rich snippet format on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
(Schema give this SERP listing unique features, like the image and star rating.)
You should know, though, that not all schema updates result in a rich snippet in the search results. This can deter a lot of people from implementing schema in the first place.
You may be wondering: Is it worth it to add schema if there’s no associated rich snippet?
In short: yes! Schema is still worth doing even if there isn’t an associated rich snippet. Even without the snippet, it’s still worth adding because you’re clueing in Google.
This is by far the most important consideration when choosing the right schema type. You’ll want to set the expectations on the difference between schema and rich snippets.
The Cost of Implementing the Wrong Schema
Let’s step back for a moment and talk about those cases when brands implement the wrong schema type.
What are the adverse effects?
To start, you’re being inconsistent with Google. Schema is essentially it’s own language, so when you add it incorrectly or inappropriately, you’re not speaking the language correctly or making it easier for them 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 not what any SEO wants. Not to mention the loss of time it would take to revert the changes, and we all know you have enough on your plate.
What Are Popular Schema Types?
You may already be familiar with some schema types.
Popular schema include the 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.
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 there.
Schema options are in a library — a huge library — that’s hosted on schema.org.
You need to navigate it and find what you’re looking for to find what 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, which is 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 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 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: Implementing Schema
Adding schema to 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 implement the code.
Now, explaining the nuances of schema code and working it into the backend of your website could be an entire guide on its own. Luckily, SEOs no longer need to know how to code to implement schema.
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 schema with a few clicks.
We really mean it! No coding required.
See for yourself: Schema Markup Generator: Implement Structured Data Without Developers.
As a final step and precautionary measure, you may choose to audit your schema to confirm it’s implemented 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.
In the past, Google offered the Structured Data Testing tool, but the search engine deprecated this tool. However, you can still use the Rich Results Test to verify if your page is eligible for rich results.
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. Schema Builder can do it all!