Posted on March 8, 2018 by
Have you heard of schema.org? You may not have before today, but it will quickly become one of your go-to sites—this website will positively change how potential customers find your content and will encourage them to click through from search engines more often. Want to know how? Let me explain.
You don’t need to own a business to recognize and appreciate the value of the search engine results page (SERP). Whether you’re trying to look up ingredients for a new dinner recipe or suddenly need to know the name of the actor who starred in Caddyshack, search engines like Google and Bing are always at our fingertips, ready with the answers.
While your average internet user may not need to know exactly how Google always finds the answers and shares the best results, business owners do. Because knowing the backend business of structuring data for your website pages ensures that your business shows up high in search results—and with the compelling information that will make users click!
Search engines are built on data; the data collected from user searches, the data collected from XML sitemaps, traffic data and so much more. Fortunately, we live in an age where all of this data is readily available—but before we can access these collections of data, they have to be organized and standardized and packaged to show up in our search engine results.
That’s where Schema.org comes in.
What is Schema?
Before we talk about schema, we need to define “metadata”: Metadata is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. And schema is one of those sets! Schema is the overall structure for that metadata. More specifically, schema metadata is the dataset that enables you to include more information about a web page when your site shows up in search engine results.
You not only score “points” with search engines by standardizing the data and creating a richer search result, you also get to highlight the exact information you know your ideal customer is searching for . . . making it that much more compelling for them to click on your search result and head to your page!
For example, if you search for the term “vodka martini recipe”, the top results include a photo, ratings, ingredients, instructions and more—offering you a rich and compelling recipe result searchers will want to click. Another example is Roaring Pajamas’ client, LoveToKnow. If you type “site:lovetoknow.com cats” into Google, you’ll see the breadcrumb from the site—and that was created using schema.
Why is Schema Important?
Search engines created a standard for search engine results to ensure a better experience for their users. By creating an experience where users are a lot more likely to find the answers they need directly on the SERP, search engines ensure that users stay in the search channel—and are more likely to click on the ads that make those search engines money!
As a business owner or marketer, a richer search engine result benefits you, too. Keep in mind that you only have seconds to gain the user’s attention—there are a lot of answers on that SERP, after all—so you should optimize your search result to appeal to your target audience and entice them to click-through to learn more.
Metadata called out in schema markup can also positively impact your search ranking—also known as your position on the SERP. Research has highlighted significant improvements in both search engine ranking and click-through rate when your content is appropriately optimized. That’s where schema.org comes in . . . but more on that later.
While you may have a different end goal in mind than the search engines do, richer search results benefit you both. A richer result benefits Google and if you leverage Google’s desire for a better search experience, the likelihood that people will click on your result is much higher.
How Do I Work with Schema?
The good news is you don’t have to build the schema for your metadata from scratch! Metadata needs to be standardized, so that data from one webpage can be compared to data from another. Schema.org is the collaborative community activity that provides a set of schema standards for marking up a web page depending upon the style of the page. You can find schema templates for everything from blog posts to recipes to books, events, articles and more!
Take a step back before you dive into the templates: As with all aspects of your business, consider your target audience first. Ask yourself: When my audience is searching for the information I can provide, what exactly are they looking for? If your website features recipes, are your ideal readers looking for the number of calories in each recipe? When creating your metadata content using schema as a guide, always give the user some of what they’re looking for and give them the next logical step: a call-to-action that encourages them to click to your web page and learn more.
Be intentional about including what your target audience is looking for when you optimize for search engines. But don’t give everything away either—make sure you include just enough information to make your search result stand out, but leave your audience wanting to click through to read more.
How Do I Add Metadata to My Website Using Schema?
Start with schema.org: Each of the templates on the site will give you different aspects and standards, and will even provide HTML code that you can copy and paste directly onto your webpage.
The SEO plugins for many content management systems also offer schema options, or you can download modules just for optimizing your schema tags. Lastly, there’s always the option to hand-code the data yourself—though that’s a bit more tedious than downloading a plugin or a module that will do the work for you.
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Creating, optimizing and adding metadata to your website using a schema template is actually quite simple—and incredibly valuable—when you use Schema.org. Give search engines as much data as you can to enrich the search experience for your potential customers, while also optimizing for a richer result that compels those same customers to click-through and buy from you!
Have you explored schema.org? Tell us the template you’ll try first in the comments below!