Structured Data Markup – What Is It And Should You Even Bother?

 

microdata

It has been many years since we first started seeing rich snippets on Google search results (such as the ones that appear under Yelp.com search results as shown below). In fact, Google officially announced that it would include the rich snippets in May 2009.

The first time I saw it, I thought it was eye catching and wanted it on the website I was working on. Unfortunately, I just did not have the resource / knowledge to implement it.

yelp review snipet

Years passed by, it has become common knowledge that Schema code should be utilized to make the rich snippets appear on search results. Yet, time after time I keep hearing people not understanding what Schema code is and that promoted me to write this post.

 

First things first, bit of background about Structured Data Markup

So what is Structured Data Markup and how is that different from Schema?

Structured Data Markup is a set of data to help search engines better understand what a website’s information is all about.

For example, when a web page about “Jaguar” is presented to search engines, the search engines are not able to determine whether the word “Jaguar” means the animal or the brand of a car. Thus, structured data can help search engines better understand web content so search engines can present it in a useful and relevant way on their search results.

There are three types of commonly used structured data markups.

  • Microdata (Schema.org)
  • Microformats
  • RDFa (=Resource Description Framework in attributes)

Now you see Schema is essentially Microdata, which is one type of Structured Data Markup.

So why people keep referring Structured Data Markup to “Schema code” and not the other two? The main reason for this is because Microdadta (i.e. Schema) is backed by all the major search engines – Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Yandex. Please visit Schema.org for more info about this.

 

What is the impact of using Schema code on my site?

It largely depends on what kind of site you have. Currently, it is not clear how having a Schema markup on a site will directly affect the search ranking (in case you are interested, reference #1 #2). The consensus among the SEO community is that the most visible effect of markup is it will influence the click through rate by allowing Google to present additional information on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).

Update

According to a study done by Searchmetrics, having Schema code could potentially boost on average by 4 positions on search results.

However, this finding might be skewed by the fact that websites with Schema code incorporated are more likely search engine optimized than the ones without Schema code.

 

Should I bother implementing Schema code on my site?

Again, it largely depends on what kind of site you have. Considering the only obvious benefit is to make rich snippet appear under your site’s search results, if you have a review site or an events, ticketing, venue related site the benefit might be clear.

On the other hand, considering Google recently removed Author Photos from search results, it is not clear how Google will utilize other Schema code in the near future. By the way, there is a theory that by removing the Author Photos, Google is making more money from CPC ads but let’s not get into that here.

The bottom line is, if you are a small business or a start up, don’t waste your resource because there is no clear immediate ROI.

 

Summary

Schema code is essentially Microdata which is one type of Structured Data Markup.

People talk about Schema as if that is the only Structured Data Markup because the major search engines are backing it.

Don’t waste your precious resource if you are a small business or a start-up in implementing Schema code because you will not see an immediate ROI, unless your business provides a lot of reviews and events information.

 

References

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/05/introducing-rich-snippets.html

http://moz.com/blog/semantic-SEO-questions

http://moz.com/blog/the-lowdown-on-structured-data-and-schemaorg-your-questions-answered

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