As information creation, processing and consumption evolves, how people and “things” use the Internet will reach a convergence point. This convergence point will be where a machine or “thing” and a person can consume information at the same level. Currently, machines must make clever guesses as to what the information on the Internet is about.
When a Googlebot crawls your website, it cannot “read” the information the way you do. It looks at the definitions of each word and tries to piece together the narrative. Schema or structured data is aimed at helping machines read information in a more efficient and near-human manner.
Founded and supported by titans like Google, Yandex and Microsoft, Schema is an open source collaboration aimed at building a lexicon of terms that can be reused across the internet in a uniform and predictable format.
Schema covers a broad range of areas and terms and can therefore be used exhaustively in the development of machine-readable websites. According to the Schema website, over 10 million websites currently use schema markup.
Using schema can have some or all the following advantages:
- Improve the crawlability of your website. When you use structured data, search engines find it easier to understand your website and categorize it appropriately.
- Rich results such as rich snippets, and the knowledge graph are also potential advantages of using schema. When used, search engines can structure the information on your website in a way that allows search engine search results (SERPs) to appear in a structured and rich format. This format can also be used in ads if you are using Google Ads.
- Social media platforms today are also working towards using schema to improve how they show information related to websites. Pinterest is an example that uses schema to determine how they serve up rich pins.
Using schema markup tags on your website can therefore be advantageous, as the following schema markup tips illustrate.
1. Schema for Products
If you are running an e-commerce website, product schema may be beneficial. Some of the tags in this category include:
- Product Code (GTIN-12)
- Offer code (if you are running an offer) (GTIN-13)
If your products are well labeled thus, it will be easy for search engines to pick out individual products that meet search criteria, in much the same way they pick up Amazon products whenever you search for a product.
2. Schema for Places
The places schema is important for any business that has a physical location, as well as for businesses that sell properties such as real estate. Some property schema tags include:
- Area Served
- Public Access
- Opening hours
- Geospatial Location
Enhancing your location-focused web pages can help Google generate rich snippets that contain information like phone number, directions and opening and closing hours. This is invaluable information especially for people searching via mobile where having all this information right in the search results can be a huge timesaver.
3. Schema for Persons
The person schema is like having all the tools to build a supercharged LinkedIn profile, all on your website. This schema category is appropriate for consultants, freelancers, artists, academics, and team pages. Some of the schema tags you can use include:
- Alumni associations
- Birth date
- Birth place
- Honorific prefix and suffix
- Job title
This schema can be extremely useful if you want to be personally findable on search engine search results.
4. Schema for Ratings and Reviews
In the information age we live in, ratings and reviews are the double-edged swords every business must juggle successfully to win. One thing that goes unsaid is that if you have complimentary reviews, you must show them prominently as social proof.
Here are some rating and review schema tags you can use:
- Item reviewed name
- Review body text
- Review rating
- Content rating
- Date created, modified and published (separate schema tags)
5. Schema for Actions
If your website relies on users taking certain actions to prompt a result, such as click to download, or click to enter, then the action schema is what you need. It is designed to describe an action performed, directly or indirectly, by a person or indirect participants. This may also include location dependent actions.
Action schema tags include:
- Action status
- Start time
- End time
Action schema works well for websites that offer software tools and services that users interact with.