using-schema-org-rich-snippets
Marketing - SEO

Introduction to Schema.org and Rich Snippets

Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing process, and it involves quite a big number of variants and factors that you need to consider or take care of. For instance, there are sitemaps to be submitted, crawl errors to be fixed, social networking integration to be dealt with, and so on.

Most of the time, there are ready-made plugins and extensions that help you deal with such basic tasks, no matter which platform you are on, be it WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla!

However, there is one basic factor related to Search Engine Optimization that rarely gets the attention it rightfully deserves: schema.org markups.

Yes, simply by using schema.org markups, you can help your website stand out from the crowd. However, due to its obscurity, not many websites make use of it to the fullest.

So what can schema.org markups do? Heard of Rich Snippets in SERPs? Right, that is scheme markup for you!

In this article, I will be introducing you to schema.org markups, and ways in which you can use them to boost your search rankings and performance.

Using Schema.org and Rich Snippets

What Are Rich Snippets?

So, what exactly are rich snippets?

While nearly all search engines have their own mode of operation and each differs from the other in terms of algorithm and search results, there are certain key points which are common to nearly every major search engine on the internet.

Among such points is the fact that all search engines attempt to offer the search results on the basis of relevance, which is often decided by virtue of how good or bad the given content might be. Thus, your website may have better content than your competitor’s, but if the search engine algorithm begs to differ, your search rank will suffer.

Now, in order to make the SERPs more fruitful and meaningful for the users, search engines nowadays tend to display additional information too. This is where Rich Snippets come in handy, as they can provide extra info alongside search results.

rich-snippets

Rich Snippets can be of various types: video, people, places, products, events, and so on. Remember Google Authorship snippets (that are now defunct, though)? Those were Rich Snippets too!

What Can Schema Do Here?

A schema markup can be used to populate Rich Snippets. In fact, it consists of a hierarchy of the various markups that are recognized by search engines. So if you were to write a review about a book, you can use schema markup to help search engines identify the book and its author about which your review talks.

So we can say that schema markup is used to “enhance” the quality and appeal of our website’s search listing in results. This has a direct effect over the user experience, as users are more likely to click on a search listing with additional information rather than a plain one. This in turn enhances the CTR of your website, and increases your traffic.

How Can Schema.org Help?

Schema markup, in easiest terms, is special microdata that is used to inform the search engines about additional information that can be displayed in search results, alongside the usual text and heading. Thus, if you are keen on including Rich Snippets for your search results, you need to employ schema.org markups to inform search engines of the same.

schemaorg

In fact, while there could have been various ways to implement Rich Snippets, most major search engines (including Google, Bing as well as Yahoo!) have opted to rely on schema.org framework. As a result, no matter what search algorithm a given search engine is using, Rich Snippets fields are populated using the standard schema.org markup everywhere.

Quite obviously, schema.org markup is something that you should seriously consider implementing as part of your SEO strategy, as it can give a big boost to your website’s CTR and overall search engine rank.

How About An Example?

So, you wish to implement schema.org markup for your website but do not know where to start? Well, there are many plugins available for most CMSs which will help you do just that, but for the sake of clarity, let us discuss the process as if we were doing it manually.

We need to place the special microdata inside common HTML tags. Here is how we are going to do it:

Let us say our website in question is about a person. This is how the plain HTML excerpt will look:

<div>

Hello! I am Sufyan, and I like coffee. I can play Chess all day, and I think HTC phones are pretty cool.

</div>

Now, let us use the ItemScope to add a schema.org category to our excerpt:

<div itemscope itemtype=http://schema.org/Person>

Hello! I am Sufyan, and I like coffee. I can play Chess all day, and I think HTC phones are pretty cool.

</div>

The above excerpt will now tell search engines that the given content is about a person.

Now, in order to make our markup more meaningful, we need to add extra details:

<div itemscope itemtype=http://schema.org/Person>

Hello! I am <span itemprop=”givenName”>Sufyan</span>, and I like coffee. I can play Chess all day, and I think HTC phones are pretty cool.

</div>

The above excerpt can now tell the search engines that the text is about a person named Sufyan. You can find additional such properties for the Person type here.

Conclusion

Too busy to do it all by yourself? Have no fear! Like I said, there are several plugins that will take care of this task for you. For instance, WordPress users can utilize the All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets plugin to take care of everything related to schema.org markups for their websites.

Once you are all set and done, you might want to test your markup just to be sure that everything is in order and setup the way you would want it to be. For that purpose, Google has a handy tool to help you test your markup and verify that search engines can properly index your Rich Snippets.

That’s all! By proper use of Rich Snippets, you can help your website stand apart from the crowd in terms of search results and improve your SERPs as well as gain extra traffic. Since SEO is nothing more than a combination of several measures to help you stay ahead of the curve, investing some time and efforts in understanding schema.org is well worth the trouble, because it can genuinely boost your website’s SEO ratings.

Do you use Rich Snippets and schema.org markups for your websites? If so, share your experiences with us using the comments below!

Image Credits: Eyal Sela

About the author

Writer; coffee-lover; best-selling author; editor of The Globe Monitor; blogs at Code Carbon. Learn more about my works, follow me on Facebook or Google+.

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