As an SEO, if you haven’t been exploring the use of schema markup across your site, there’s really no better time to start diving in and taking a look at the many different types of structured data available to use at your disposal.
Developed by Google, Bing, and Yahoo in 2011, schema.org set about offering a fresh vocabulary to site owners who are familiar with Microdata, RDFa or JSON-LD. Implementing this vocabulary on your site allows search engine spiders to determine the nature of your content, and better understand how that content is useful to users when they search relevant queries. Sounds good, right?
In this blog, we’ll take a look at the benefits (and the debates) of using schema in your code to help you capture those illustrious featured snippets and rich snippets and whether they can improve important metrics like click-through rates.
Is schema good or bad for your site?
There has long been a discussion around whether obtaining a featured snippet for your site has a positive or negative impact in the long term. Some SEOs argue that ranking in position zero with structured data content actually leads to a decline in CTR over time. This is because the key information is accessible to the user without them having to click on the link to find out more. This can be true and is evidenced in part when we look at a search query like “How to implement schema markup”:
What we find is a concise but incomplete list of instructions about how to use schema markup on your site from neilpatel.com. Each step offers some insight about how to implement schema, however, the information highlighted in this format is not enough for the user to apply structured data to their content. For more insight, the user would be encouraged to click the link to find out more. In turn, this results in a strong win for Neil Patel who has showcased enough information to get the resulting clicks to his site and keep the organic competition at bay.
This is kind of like window shopping for your answer and being offered a panoramic view of what’s inside compared to seeing a display that’s only loosely connected to what you’re searching for.
The evolving landscape of structured data
Schema has improved significantly from its inception in 2011. As pioneers of the development of new and exciting search engine tools over the past decade, Google leads the market offering user innovative functions to help users get the answers they need quickly. Some of my personal favourite structured data types are:
This is a great tool for users (particularly mobile users) looking for an advanced calendar feature to search for specific groups of events in a defined location. The example below is for “Concerts in Brighton”:
Although the information is bitesize, I can quickly obtain valuable insights such as venue, date, time and artist. Again, these rich snippets or “windows” are closer to my search term than other plain organic results. Additionally, when I click an event listing I’m taken directly to the booking vendors site. With a very high search intent and in fewer clicks, I am able to checkout efficiently.
When implemented correctly, recipe schema is an effective tool to reach into new areas of your target audience, helping them become more familiar with your brand. Designed purely for the foodies out there, recipe schema provides a platform to implement aggregate ratings, cooking times, recipe ingredients and instructions, nutritional information and much more.
I prefer the use of this structured data as a way of capturing someone’s interest and then offering them a warm sell with related products or services linked on the recipe page itself.
Since the implementation of recipe structured data for one of our clients, we have seen rapid growth in their search impressions and click metrics from queries relating to recipes:
With almost every business facing a series of frequently asked questions, FAQ schema can offer your customers a quicker way of getting answers to questions that have set answers. This can also save a significant amount of time for your customer service team, who may often find they are getting asked the same series of questions over. Below is an example of how search integrates the FAQ schema markup into rich snippets.
The best feature of this structured data type is having the ability to implement internal links to key pages on your site within the FAQ answers. This helps your users access valuable pages quickly. To date, this is the only schema markup type that offers this feature and it’s currently very underused, so why not jump ahead of the competition?
Remember the structured data guidelines
Of course, none of the above is important if you fail to follow Google’s structured data guidelines. As a part of the evolving landscape of schema markup, search engines are constantly testing new features and making adjustments to current markup. In some cases you may find that certain data types become obsolete over time as attempts are made to finesse relevant structured data, making rich results more helpful to users.
Ultimately, remember that there are no guarantees your schema will get picked up by search engines and miraculously turned into featured or rich snippets. So, test your data using Google’s structured data testing tool, stick to best practice, make sure the data represents value to the user, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving improved organic results!