Schema: Get your SERP ranking a Boost

Schema.org_If someone told you that there was a quick and easy way that many of you could improve your SERP CTR for minimal effort, you’d all stop in your tracks and give them full attention. Yet, Schema.org and rich snippets are still horribly under-utilized.

Since Google (and Bing!) officially introduced schema.org in June, it’s fair to say motivation to implement it has been mixed. However, since its introduction Schema.org has already evolved a lot, adding a lot of new stuff that people haven’t paid attention to. Here I try to persuade you there are few downsides and plenty of upsides.

Myth: Schema.org markup doesn’t get rich snippets!

A common objection I hear to people not using Schema is that there’s no point because Google doesn’t use it for rich snippets. WRONG!

This was true, but is no longer; lots of websites in different markets have taken a leap of faith and are seeing the benefits in the form of rich snippets.

Examples of Schema.org Rich Snippets Showing in Google

The following are all examples of websites that are currently using the Schema.org vocabulary:

E-Commerce

Image Source | See The Example Page

TV Series

Image Source | See The Example Page

Movies

Image Source | See The Example Page

Events

Image Source | See The Example Page

Recipe

Image Source | See Example Page

As you can see Schema.org is definitely being used by Google.

Schema.org is not a language.

Schema.org is a Microdata vocabulary; not a language in and of itself. Let me explain the difference, as there is still a lot of confusion in the SEO community.

There are various languages that do the job we’re discussing:

  • Microformats
  • Microdata
  • RDFa

When marking up any content on a page for rich snippets or similar machine readable reasons, the method of doing so is always a mix between one of these and a vocabulary. See the example below of using Microdata with the schema.org vocabulary.

Of the language and vocabulary above, it’s the vocabulary part that all the search engines have agreed to standardize with schema.org.

When Google originally announce that they were going to support the Schema.org vocabulary, they also dropped the bombshell that they supported only Microdata.

They also said that although they would continue to support the existing rich snippets markup, you should avoid mixing the formats together as it can confuse their parsers.

The fact that you couldn’t mix Schema.org and microformats or RDFa annoyed a lot of people and Kavi Goel from Google later said this was a mistake and they are fixing it. You can read the discussion here

BREAKING NEWS: 2 days ago a pretty big announcement was made on the Schema.org blog. There are plans in the pipeline for the Schema.org vocabulary to be used with the RDFa language; with support for using other vocabularies on the same page.

5 underused Schema.org applications

I personally believe that Schema.org is the future and if you’ve not already done so, you should be implementing it right now. Regardless of what type of website you have, there are always ways you can use Schema.org, even if it’s simply defining an article and the publish date.

That being said, there are cases where I think you can gain even more by implementing it, here are my top 5 examples of ways I think Schema.org should be getting used.

Events.

The event schema lets you get really specific about what type of event you are describing. Right now you can specify an event as any of the items shown in the image below.

With the recent QDF update, it’s important that you give Google as much information as possible. Events by their very nature are obviously time sensitive so using schema.org to enforce event details is obviously a good idea.

The events schema is a pretty comprehensive vocabulary, you are able to markup things like; attendees, duration, performers, location and the start and end date. For more information see the events page: http://schema.org/Event.

Jobs

I don’t think I can describe how amazing this is. The jobs markup is a recent addition to the schema.org vocabulary and was announced last week on the schema blog. Even more amazing is what was announced on the Google blog today. Google have just launched a custom search engine that specifically looks for Schema.org job markup. The custom search engine is used to find veteran-committed job openings. You can read the blog post here.

I would love to see search related queries returning results like that in the example below.

Reputation Management

This isn’t groundbreaking so I’ll make it quick. Make use of the Person Schema to make the best page online about the person in question. Not only can you mark up the obvious things like name and age, you can use the tiny details such as what university they went to (alumniOf), what awards they have won (awards), where they work (worksFor), who their colleagues are (colleagues) and even who their family are (parents, siblings, spouse, relatedTo). This is an easy way to make a super targeted page around a single person. I tried this on my own blog and marked up as much as I could. (Disclaimer: I’ve not got round to actually writing a blog post yet but you can see mine about Craig page that I used as a schema test. When you put this page into the Google rich snippets tool, look how much information they are now able to extract.

That is an amazing amount of information and is now obviously an awesome result to Display when someone searches my name. This is how it would look in the SERPS as well.

News Sites

The recent QDF update reinforces how committed Google are to displaying fresh content where appropriate. The schema has now extended the vocabulary to include a section specifically for the news industry. This now allows you to reference a particular page or column in the physical paper edition if appropriate. The image below shows the recent additions.

News sites should be using this to markup to tell the search engines what their content is about and when it was published.

E-commerce

I can’t believe how many e-commerce websites I see without any markup at all. People spend so much time trying to rank higher and forget to get the low hanging fruit. Rich snippets are an amazing way to increase click through rates by drawing attention to your listing. The Ebay example shows how much the stars help make the listing stand out.

Wrap up

I hope I’ve managed to convince you that Schema.org is worth implementing right now.

There are already the benefits of rich snippets to be had but this isn’t just about rich snippets; it’s about creating content that machines can understand and reference. There are already services that try to make use of this kind of information such as Silk, Apples Siri and potentially Wired. Ensuring that you are ahead of your competitors can only be a good thing.

So this is Umang Signing off for today 🙂

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