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A Complete Guide to Schema Markup

Some webmasters can get intimidated when it comes to working on the backend of their websites. But the metadata you include on the page (and how it’s formatted) can have a significant impact on your SEO performance. Of the many types of SEO-friendly metadata, one of the most powerful is schema.org markup.

Schema markup is a form of structured data that helps search engines read your web pages better. It also improves the appearance and click-ability of your search result. Anyone can add schema.org markup to their website, and you don’t have to be a web developer to do it.

Here’s a complete guide to understanding the SEO power of this data markup and a detailed explanation about how to add it to your website.

What is Schema Markup?

Structured Data Markup

In simple terms, schema markup is a type of semantic vocabulary code. You can place it on your website to help search engines create more informative and relevant results for users.

On the backend of your website, schema.org markup is a specific type of structured data in your HTML code. On the front end, that schema markup results in a rich result in Google, or a prominent SERP display that provides more information and context for your audience.

Types of rich results

A normal snippet in the search engine result pages (also known as the SERPs), shows very basic information about the website such as the title of the page, the URL, and the meta description.

A rich snippet is a bit more complex and includes additional information highly relevant to search intent that you want to appear within the SERPs. Some examples of rich snippet information include hours of operation, star ratings, event details, and ingredients for a recipe. Schema is the code that allows for the rich snippet to populate with this extra information on the search result pages.

In order to use schema markup properly, you need to use a specific vocabulary of data. Luckily, the main search engines Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Yandex, created this vocabulary in a centralized website, schema.org. They did so in order to reach a main standard of language so their search engines can perform properly.

This is a free resource and is used by digital marketing analysts to propel their website to better rankings and more clicks. On schema.org, you’ll be able to find plenty of tags, with specific categories, that can help you describe your business, products, reviews, job postings, and contact pages. We’ll get into this in more detail later on in this article.

SEO Benefits of Schema.org

There are many SEO benefits to utilizing schema.org vocabulary. Despite the benefits, it’s estimated that only 33% of markets are actually utilizing this powerful optimization. By adding schema markup to your site, you will be level up against your competitors in a variety of ways. Here are some of the benefits:

Schema tells the search engines what the data means.

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Think of schema as a way to translate to the search engines what the data on your website means.

Search engines work through a process of crawling and indexing websites. Through this, they can populate those web pages within the SERPs when a specific keyword is entered into the search bar. However, there’s more to crawling a website than simply reading the text on a website.

Instead, you need to make sure your website’s HTML code and format can be read correctly. As a result, the information you want about your website is displayed properly. Schema is a free tool that does just that.

Schema is a data type that creates informative results.

Consumers have very short attention spans. In order to stand out in Google, you’ll have to give your prospective audience information in the method they want it, and when they want it. All this extra information, provided by schema vocabulary, provides what is known as an “enhanced search result.”

Businesses, especially local businesses, only have a few seconds to make a good impression, and providing as much informative text as possible can mean all the difference when it comes to converting potential customers.

Schema improves your webpage’s click-through rate (ctr).

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As stated above, the more informative your website is within the SERPs, the easier it is to improve one of the most important metrics for your website, your click-through rate. Creating multiple web pages can only work so well unless they are converting the consumers you need!

There’s more to digital marketing than creating content and putting it on a web page. You have to make sure each page works towards a specific marketing goal. Your about me page will have a different goal than your homepage, your blog posts, and your services page.

Schema is one of the easiest ways to help each page stand out on its own in Google search results. Since each page has a specific function, there are different schema types that relay different information in the rich search results. As a result, prospective consumers will be given more specific information for each web page they find. This increases the likelihood they will click through to your website and convert.

Schema boosts your local SEO efforts, especially on mobile.

We all know how important it is for our website to be mobile responsive, considering how many consumers use mobile devices to shop and scroll every single day. There’s a benefit to mobile rich snippets as they take up more space within the mobile SERPs, where real estate is more lucrative.

Local Business Schema Markup

When schema is implemented correctly, searches for certain types of local businesses, such as local restaurants and cafes, movie theaters, and small retail shops will pop up showing a full list of items within the rich snippet to educate their consumers.

These design elements are implemented in something that is known as a carousel, where the user can quickly scroll through and click to the right web page they are looking for. As a result, this type of metadata allows for your local business to take up a good chunk of the important mobile SERP real estate, boosting your brand authority and awareness.

Schema is a little-known secret in the marketing world.

Many businesses know about schema, but don’t always implement it. In fact, only one-third of Google search results incorporate rich snippets, which means they use this type of source code. On top of that, throughout the rest of the major search engines, less than one-third use any type of schema markup.

In other words, there are a ton of website owners out there – literally millions – that are missing out on this massive source of SEO potential. And if you use it, you’ll be on your way to standing out amongst your competitors in no time at all.

Most Popular Schema Markup Types

There are many different types of markups that you can use within the realm of the schema vocabulary. The goal is to structure the markup type to fit three categories; people, places, or things.

The most popular types of schema are used to indicate the following item types:

  • Articles
  • Events
  • People
  • Products
  • Organizations
  • Local Businesses
  • Product reviews
  • Medical conditions
  • Recipies
  • Breadcrumbs within the website
  • Job postings
  • FAQ pages
  • Job training
  • Books
  • Podcasts
  • How-to
  • Logos
  • Movies
  • Sitelinks search box
  • Subscription and paywall content
  • Videos
  • Image license metadata

Once added to your website, these pieces of microdata will be then turned into a rich snippet, or what is also known as a rich result.

One of the great details about schema code is that it is completely customizable to your brand and business no matter your industry. There is a lot of microdata that is implemented into schema code, so the above are just common themes. The following data vocabularies are more niche uses of schema, under the themes outlined above.

Creative Works

This is the library of markups that are used for multiple forms of creative content such as books, movies, video games, and music, to name a few examples. For websites about movies, its schema would have movie-specific elements that highlight the star rating, genre, and nearby theaters to watch the film.

RDFa

An RDFa is a language of code that is added to the HTML code that already exists on your web pages. It stands for Resource Descriptive Framework in Attributes, and you are able to add it to any HTML, XHTML, and XML-based document. Some examples of RDFa attributes include:

  • Rel and Rev; symbolizing a relationship and a reverse relationship with another resource.
  • About, which explains what the microdata is about.
  • Content; to override the content of the element when using the property attribute.
  • Datatype; to specify the type of datatype used when using the property attribute.
  • Typeof; to specify the type of RDFa used.

Microdata

Implementation for microdata is the same as RDFa, except for having separate attributes. You can use the following microdata attributes on your website;

  • Itemscope; this is when you create the item and thus you indicate what the rest of the element is about.
  • Itemtype; this is when you describe the item itself using the schema.org vocabulary.
  • Itemid; a unique identifier of the element.
  • Itemref; to reference specific properties within an element.

JSON-LD

Standing for Javascript Object Notation for Linked Objects, this is an annotation type that can be simply copied and pasted into the heading or the body tag of a web document. All you have to do is use the tags “@context” and “@type” attributes when specifying which schema.org vocabulary you want. According to SEO experts, it is pivotal to use this JSON-ld format as often as possible, as it is considered the easiest way to implement schema markup for beginners.

How to Choose the Right Schema Markup for Your Web Pages

In order to choose the right schema markup for your website, you will have to zoom out and consider your overall digital marketing strategy for each web page. You first need to figure out what web pages you will want to optimize, and what part of the schema.org vocabulary you’ll use to get the best organic traffic. But how?

The easiest way to think of schema as a way of telling a story on your website, a story that is told between multiple similar pages that all relate back to overall goals. Here are some tips that will help you decide what schema markup is the best for you.

1. Identify the key details of your business.

This may seem obvious, but in order to choose the right schema markup, you’ll need to determine what your business is all about, what search terms you want to rank for, and how you want to tell the world about them. Typically, this includes your contact information, products, product reviews, FAQS, and thought-leadership pieces about what your business does. Its a good idea to make a list of every page type on your website, and then categorize them based on what “business purpose” they fit into.

2. Map your web pages to the proper schema.org vocabulary.

Now take your list and map every single webpage to fit into the proper schema.org vocabulary. There are a few tools that help you do this ( we’ll get into them later!) but as of right now, take the time to meticulously map all your data out so you have everything in one place.

3. Evaluate each page for reoccurrence.

This is different than mapping your pages to each schema.org website option because this step is about recurrence. To figure this out, you can simply ask yourself the question ” does this page have content that is published somewhere else on the website?” If so, you’ll need to use a different data format for your schema implementation. A good rule of thumb is that if your website has more than 5 pages of similar content, then that content theme is recurring. If the content only appears once, it can be classified as a single page.

4. Connect your content.

You’ll now need to connect the dots between your metadata so you don’t have an empty text string. Your goal here is to create a knowledge graph so any search engine can easily read your website and understand the context between your content and how it all relates to one another.

When a search engine understands exactly who you are and what you do, you are sure to get an SEO boost. That’s because Google tends to show the most relevant information it can find within the first page of the organic search rankings for a query.

There are many tools that can help you connect your schema paths, such as this one from SchemaApp.

How to Use a Schema Markup Generator

Luckily, there are a lot of fantastic online tools to use when creating your website’s schema. LinkGraph’s Schema Markup Generator is one of these options and is an easy way to get boost your SEO efforts overnight. In most cases, these tools will write all of the code snippets you need, including HTML tags, and all you have to do is place them in the backend of your website.

LinkGraph's Schema Creator

Our markup generator is quite easy to use. Follow these steps for the best results:

  1. Login to your LinkGraph dashboard, here.
  2. Select “Schema Creator”
  3. Select the schema type you determined based on the page content you want to promote and input it into the field. For example, “local business.”
  4. You will get a javascript result, so copy and paste subsequent JSON-LD markup into the heading section of your web page.
  5. And there you go, you have successfully added schema to your website!

As a way to double-check your work, input your schema markup into Google’s rich results test tool. This test is a wonderful resource to use as it will identify if there are problems with your schema code, plus it will confirm whether or not Google is able to generate rich results from your markup.

In addition to Google’s data testing tool, here are some other options for checking your work:

  • SEMRush Audit Tool, which checks for markups and it tells you the percentage of your website that currently uses schema. This gives you information that can help you identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Google’s Content Markup Guide, made specifically for Creative Work schema in the goal to acquire more rich results.
  • Checking out any new releases from the Schema.org website to help you stay on top of industry updates.

Final Thoughts on Schema.org Markup and Rich Results

With all the free tools available to you, it is surprising how many businesses do not take advantage of the rich results that come with implementing the different types of schema markup. Even though it may seem a bit intimidating to work with schema code at first, these tools, especially your Schema Markup Generator can really help to elevate your website to the next level and increase your website rank for multiple keywords. And what more could you ask for?

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There’s plenty of options available to you, as long as you stay dedicated to learning. Remember, SEO is similar to a stock market; the effort you put into equates to what you get out of it, and schema is one of the best ways to stand out among your competitors.

As always, our team of SEO experts and web developers are here to help you with any and all of your schema needs. Contact us today for more information about how we can bring your website to new heights.

A Guide to SEO HTML Tags

There’s so much more to creating an online presence than simply uploading content onto a webpage. Getting noticed in search results is the best way to grow a business and brand name, and creating good content is a key to ranking for multiple search queries. However, search engine crawlers use HTML tags to read and understand the web pages they index. This means that it is not just your content that is important, but how your content reads on both the frontend and the backend of your website. 

It’s best to think of HTML as Google crawlers’ native language, and this guide will explain how to use your SEO HTML tags to better communicate to Google the relevance of your content to searchers.

ARTICLE CONTENTS:

What are HTML Tags?
Title Tags
Meta Descriptions
Heading Tags
Alt Tags
Robots Tags
Canonical Tags
SEO Benefits of HTML Tags

What Are HTML Tags?

HTML tags are the foundation of any website. They are small snippets of code that are embedded into the back-end of a website, and there are different HTML uses for different components on a webpage. 

A HTML tag is characterized by <> and </> surrounding the word or phrase.

Why Are HTML Tags So Important for SEO?

In order to understand why HTML tags are important for SEO purposes, it is important to understand the fundamentals of how a search engine works. 

Simply put, a search engine’s goal is not only to provide informative answers to its users, but its job is to find relevant and timely content based on the searcher’s query.

There are over 200 ranking factors that go into how a search engine promotes relevant results in their search engine result pages (SERPs). In fact, Google regularly changes its algorithm to improve user experience and the quality of search engine results. Unfortunately, Google keeps these algorithm updates under lock and key, but SEO HTML best practices is a sure-fire method of communicating information about each page so search engines can read your content accordingly.

One incredibly important SEO best practice is investing time and energy into learning exactly how to implement the right HTML tags on the backend of your website.

The HTML process is as follows:

  1. The website owner creates the page’s content.
  2. The website developer implements HTML code into the backend of the website.
  3. The web page is published.
  4. Search engine bots arrive on the page of the website and read the HTML code.
  5. The search engine bots store and index this information about the web page.
  6. When a user searches a keyword phrase that is relevant to what the HTML code communicated to crawlers, the web page has a better chance of showing up in the SERPs.

Not all HTML elements are created equally. There are some that are more important for showing up in search results, and you will create them depending on your target keyword and the specific topic of the given page.

The Most Important HTML Tags for Ranking in Google

Here we explain the most important HTML tags to direct your SEO efforts, and the best practices on how to do so for each.

Page Titles or “Title Tags”

Ask any SEO expert out there and they will say that your page title, or the title tags, are arguably the most important HTML snippet to include on your website. Because after all, if you don’t have a title, how will Google or users know what your page is about? HTML specifically tells Google “hey, here is the title of this page” and once indexed, the title becomes the clickable headline in the SERPs.

The HTML code for a title tag is: <title>your title here</title>

3 Ways to Optimize Page Titles

Technically, Google can choose any snippet of text to be the page title in the SERPs. But in order to ensure Google indexes the proper SEO title, there are certain best practices you should follow for all your title tags.

Keyword Optimize

Before you optimize any HTML element, the first step is to identify your focus keyword for the page. Then you will want to put your target keyword into the page title. Not only will this provide informational context for the reader, but will give an additional signal to the search engine crawlers about what each page is about.  

But do be careful about keyword stuffing and overusing keyphrases in your titles. Like with the rest of the content on your page, too many similar keywords in one place will send warning signals to the search engine that you may be spam.

Keep It Short

Google will only show the first 50-60 characters of your SEO page titles. A good title tag will be short and sweet, preventing your title from being cut off and possibly confusing prospective customers. You’ll have a bunch more space in the headline tags and general content to expand.

Set Up Proper Expectations

At the end of the day, you want to be as helpful to your clients as you can. Your website should not only be a representation of your brand, but an informative resource for all website visitors. This means your page titles should be clear, concise, and adequately reflect what the content of the page is about.

So although a unique title that sparks the curiosity of searchers can seem like the right approach, in reality, users are looking to get the answer to their question as quickly as possible. In the long run, clear, relevant page titles will help improve CTR, which can help secure higher rankings for your website overall.

Meta Descriptions

It is best to think of your page’s meta description as being the synopsis on the back of a book. They are short, quick, and easily digestible sentences that explain more in-depth what the page content is about. 

Where a page’s title grabs the attention of the user, a meta description adds more context and background information. 

A meta description is found within the SERPs directly under the page’s clickable URL. Implementing a meta description will provide Google with the right information they need, without Google having to take snippets of text from the same page and creating one themselves. When this happens, your user may not get the most accurate description, and it can cause them to lose interest in your brand name. 

The HTML code for a meta description tag is: <meta name =”description” content “your description”/>

Meta Description and Click-Through-Rates

Data shows that a well-crafted meta description undoubtably entices users to click over to your page. According to Backlinko, website pages with meta descriptions had about a 6% higher CTR than those that did not. 

Now, if you are thinking this isn’t that big of a percentage, consider it this way. If your page shows up 500 times in a Google search per month, that is 30 more clients clicking over to your page than if you didn’t have a simple meta description! Adding a meta description is an easy way to get new customers headed your way.

3 Ways to Optimize Meta Descriptions for SEO

Even if you do have a meta description, there is a small risk that Google will choose another sentence or two from that page that they think is more specific and relevant. But to prevent this, you can follow some SEO best practices.

Use the Same Focus Keyword That Is In the Page Title

You really want to drive home to the search engine spiders and your consumer that your page is about a specific keyword or phrase. Where SEO page titles are used for rankings, meta descriptions are more user-focused. Google does have an expected CTR as a ranking factor, so with this in mind, it is crucial to keep the important keywords consistent throughout all the SEO HTML tags, title tag and meta description included.

Be Mindful of the Length

Just like with SEO titles, you need to watch the length of your meta description. There’s only limited space available in the search engine result pages, so Google has to cut off meta descriptions around 150-160 characters. That’s not to say that you have to match your description up perfectly with the character count, but do your best so the description is easily understood.

Use a Call to Action

Internet users have very short attention spans, so it’s a good idea to remind them of why they need to enter your site! Call to actions don’t have to be overly complex or unique, a simple “learn more here” or “contact us today” can work wonders with your click through rate.

Headlines or “Heading Tags”

Just like having a strategy of choosing what keyphrases you want to incorporate on your page, you have to develop a strategy and a plan for how you structure that information in subheadings. For maximum readability, for both users and search engine crawlers, you cannot just put a ton of information down on a page. There needs to be structure, and that’s where headlines (header tags) or h2 through h6 tags come in. 

Users don’t always read the entire page of content, rather they scroll through the page and see if any of the different sections answer their questions. They’ll browse briefly, read the section that appeals to them the most, then leave to complete another action. And if your page isn’t split into multiple sections and is instead one long winding piece of content, then the user will bounce from your page before they even get to reading.

This is why headlines are so important; they are the foundation to your landing page or blog post’s construction. 

A header tag looks like: <h1>your heading here </h1>

Tips on Using Keywords, Synonyms, or LSI terms in Headlines

So how do you utilize keyphrases in your multiple headlines without keyword stuffing or sounding spammy? The answer comes with LSI keywords.

LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing, which are synonyms that are related to the main keyword(s) you are trying to target. Sprinkling LSI keywords throughout your content makes it easier for search engines and users to get a general idea of what your content is about.

However, it is important to note that LSI keywords are not always synonyms of your keyword, rather LSI keywords are related phrases to your topic. For example, if your keyword is coat, a synonym would be jacket. LSI keywords for coat would be winter, spring, feather down, puffy, warm, light, etc. 

Just as your headlines give structure to the page as a whole, LSI terms give more context to the content. Considering Google takes a look at your entire page before indexing and categorizing it, utilizing LSI keywords and synonyms in your SEO HTML tags will work to drive home the meaning and messaging of your content. 

You can use tools like the LinkGraph landing page optimizer to identify related keyphrases and focus words for your heading tags. Just enter your keywords into the tool, and our software provides a list of keywords that have strong topical relevance to the keyphrase. The dropdown menu will provide you plenty of terms to choose from.

3 Ways to Optimize Headings for SEO

Thinking in terms of how search rankings work is pivotal for creating headlines that convert. Here are three tips on how to optimize your heading tags for SEO purposes.

Don’t Use More Than One H1

There are multiple sizes of header tags you can use: H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6. The higher the number, the smaller the text will be, and the less important it is to use a keyword phrase. Using more than one H1 tag can confuse search engines, as they see the H1s as being the title of the page. 

A quick note: H1 tags are not to be confused with title tags as mentioned above. Title tags are shown in the search engine result pages, whereas H1s are only shown on the web page itself.

Stay Consistent

You should write your headlines so they are consistent and concise. It is always a good practice to write your headlines in a way that if you were to remove all other content, the headings would read like a list.

Write Headings as if They Are Queries

Because headings are noticed and ranked by search engine bots, you should always use this space on your website to your advantage and write content that can help with rankings. Many users enter keyphrases as questions, so headlines that resemble queries a searcher would ask, or a helpful answer to a question, is an optimizing strategy that works well.

Other Important SEO HTML Tags

There are more SEO HTML tags that can also function as a ranking signal. Here’s other important elements of your HTML code to pay attention to.

Alt Tags

An alt tag (alt attribute) is basically an image tag, or your own description or explanation of what the images on your website include or are about. When you think from an SEO perspective, you know that crawlers can’t see your images, so a little bit of alt text is the only way they will understand the relevance of that image to the keyphrases that users enter into their Google search bar.

The goal of alt text is to allow Google to know what the image is about, but also to help the user in case they are visually impaired or the image does not load. There is more to an alt tag than an accessibility factor, however, as alt tags help search engine crawlers read the images themselves and index them. This is why you sometimes see images from multiple brands when you click the “image search” tab during a Google search. 

So as a rule of thumb, make sure to use an alt tag for anything visual on your website.

Robots Tag

A website user has the ability to set up parameters for how search engine bots crawl their website via robots tags. These tags give direction on which pages can be crawled and which should be ignored from an indexing perspective. The nofollow attribute prevents Google crawlers from following internal links to other pages of your site. They are useful if you have some seasonal pages that may not always be relevant, or if you are currently working on updating a webpage.

A robots tag looks like: <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”>

Canonical Tags

Google is very strict when it comes to unique content, and will penalize you if you have duplicate content or thin content on your page. A canonical tag ensures that this doesn’t happen.

A canonical tag is a tag that you can put on a page that labels it as the “master.” Multiple pages like product pages can result in unique URLs, which can confuse search engines on which page to show in the SERPs. You may have multiple pages for many different reasons, but to Google, you need to use source code to tell them which pages to crawl and rank in the search results pages.

Adding a canoncial tag to a page will tell the search engine to ignore any other duplicate content on the website, which will prevent you from being docked in the ratings.

The SEO Benefits of HTML Tags

As mentioned previously, there are plenty of search engine optimization benefits of optimizing the source code of your website. They include:

  • Allowing search engine crawlers to read your pages and index them more efficiently, which boosts your website in search.
  • Helping users see and understand every single piece of content on a page so they see your result as the better match over your competitor.
  • Emphasizing relevant keywords and similar keyphrases.
  • Encourage a higher click through rate from the search engine result pages to your website.

While SEO HTML tags may seem overwhelming to webmasters at first, rest assured with a little practice, they will become much easier to implement. You can add tools like the Yoast SEO premium to your WordPress site to make sure you’re implementing your metadata correctly. In turn, your website will see more keyword rankings, growing your market share with each new post you publish.

Our experts at LinkGraph are here to help your business stand out on the Internet. From link building to on-page SEO to keyphrase research, we can address all the important factors needed to get your website ranking and in not a lot of time. Contact us today for additional information about how we can help your brand thrive online.