Using Schema Markup and Rich Snippets for Better SEO Ranking
Many business people and marketers have come to the realization that using Schema markup and rich snippets boost click-through rates. When the right Schema Markup is used, your website may earn more-prominent placements by search engines. One specific study indicated a 30% organic traffic increase for those websites using rich snippets. Other studies have gone further to show click-through rate (CTR) increases as high a 150%.
In essence, Rich Snippets are the result of using the right Schema markup. They make it possible for webmasters to mark up diverse forms of content in ways that can be easily understood by search engines. That explains why Google, Yahoo, Yandex, and Bing, Yahoo came together with the objective of bringing unity and ease of the usage to rich snippets through schema.org, their online documentation.
What is Schema Markup?
Among the latest evolutions in the field of Search Engine Optimization is schema markup or what Google calls structured data markup. The schema markup code helps the search engines to give users better informative results. Despite this new approach to SEO optimization being among the most powerful tools today, it is also one of the least utilized.
Right now, 33% of Google’s search results are incorporating rich snippets including schema markup. However, only 0.3 of websites are using schema markup.
Are Rich Snippets Different from Schema Markup?
Although closely tied, schema markup and rich snippets are slightly different. Essentially, schema markup is a behind-the-scenes code used by webmasters to make it easier and simpler for search engines to understand the structure and context of your content.
After search engines like Google crawl a site that’s being marked up with schema, they can use that data in creating the rich snippets that people actually see during their search results. Rich snippets come about from using Schema markup. If the search engine’s algorithm feels that a particular query stands to gain from having a rich snippet box, it then highlights that specific search engine results with additional information.
Because schema markup and rich snippets apply a structure that is easily recognized by platforms such as Google, many people refer the process as “creating structured data.” Schema markup can be compared to the sticky neon-colored page markers that people love to use when taking notes and highlighting certain passages or pages. Search engines like Google crawl your site and take note of these markers, making sure that certain information gets highlighted when people are looking for results.
Testing your Markup
Much like a code compiler is critical for testing the code you write, and as a web browser is vital for testing changes made to the web page layout, you also ought to test your schema.org markup to ensure it is correctly implemented. Google has provided a tool for testing rich snippets testing which can be used to test the markup and identifying any errors.
Although most organizations and websites may not need to extend schema.org, it however, offers them the ability to specify extra properties or sub-types to the ones being used currently.
Who Can Use Rich Snippets?
The use of schema.org markup (or rich snippets) is not mandatory by all means, but it benefits users, search engines, and even site operators. Yes, anyone with a website can add rich snippets but usually, they will only display if you happen to hold one of the leading first 5 or so Google spots.
However, not all markup gets used – rich snippets only display if your site is offering helpful and relevant information when responding to that specific query. Search engines like Google do monitor rich snippets and you are required to follow specific guidelines set by Google.
Benefits of Rich Snippets for Your Site
Underneath every search result are snippets. These are extracts of information describing what is available on a webpage – mostly this will be your page meta description. Those searching use these snippets in deciding which link among the research results to a click. The purpose of rich snippets is to enhance the information gleaned by Google from a site. This enables Google to offer users more details needed for making a more informed decision.
You can, for example, add a schema markup that displays the rating of a certain service or product that you offer (up to 5 stars). That way, when an online user is searching for that type of service or product (and your site’s offering is displayed in the search results) they can automatically see what others think of you, as well as the number of customers who have previously bought from you.
Google is able to display additional information concerning a particular search result such as whether it’s a product, a review, a person, a business and much more. Most businesses, ranging from small to medium sized will find a schema.org markup meeting the needs of their company. Once implemented, it doesn’t need to be updated or maintained.
Google caught many by surprise in 2011 by working with Bing and Yahoo! in creating schema markups that website owners could incorporate and which were understood by all the major search engines. Although the actual process of designing and implementing the schema.org markup code could be somewhat tricky, your reward will be the value you get from more click-through rates as well as the increased search results visibility.
How Does Schema Markup Work?
Properly done, Schema.org markup aids different search engine crawlers to locate your web pages and products/services more easily. But the story doesn’t end there. Schema markup also boosts the “trust” Google has in your website. This is because markup helps Google in verifying what your site and pages actually contain. When your site gains Google’s “trusts”, it’s likely to be ranked higher than those sites which it has some reservations about.
Put differently, even though Google ranks pages and websites based on several different considerations, trust has a key role. Schema markup and the resulting rich snippets are one key consideration. It’s therefore, no big surprise that on SERPs, those listings with rich snippets are always trending toward the top of the pack.
While adding markup data alone doesn’t result in higher SEO rankings, it does, however, results in higher rates in click-through. Higher click-through rates do result in a higher future search engine positioning. Even without being awarded a Rich Snippet, the Schema.org markup remains important so that your web page gets included as one of the relevant results to an online search query in the new Hummingbird’s semantic search algorithms.
What to Expect After Adding Rich Snippets
That you have started using structured data markup doesn’t translate into Google or other major search engines automatically displaying rich snippets for your website. Google will first assess and analyze your markup before they begin displaying richer results. Google starts to analyze the new markup about 10-14 days after being introduced on a site.
If, after setting up everything looks well designed, Google starts showing rich snippets for some pages (not all). However, after about 5 days these will do a disappearing act. A couple of days later some will reappear – either covering the same pages, or a completely new set of pages. This may go on for a couple of times and only after approximately 8 weeks will your site be rewarded with rich snippets covering the entire site, although they can also be semi-permanent.
Experts recommend that it is more advisable to implement the schema markup and wait for about 2 months before you try any modifications in the way you are implementing the markup.
Rich Snippets Not Showing Up
In general, implementing structured data for purposes of SEO is worthwhile for the majority of people. It does, however, demand a certain amount of resources and effort on your part. You should not feel discouraged if after setting up, you find no rich snippets or if they tend to disappear. Search engines, Google, in particular, are constantly modifying and testing their algorithms. Your website code changes could take days or even weeks before registering with the search engines. This will depend on how frequently the search engines crawl and update a website before it gets indexed.
As long as the rich snippets don’t do the disappearing act for over 2 weeks consecutively, your markup has no problems. If, however, after about 8 weeks you still have no rich snippets, or if the ones that had appeared vanish for weeks, something could be wrong. There could be errors in your Schema.org implementation. Alternatively, your site may have been tagged by Google for suspected black-hat SEO practices. The punishment for such practices is that Google may hold back on your rich snippets.
Structured data or schema markup must represent the main content of your page and it must not be hidden from the online user. Google penalizes sites which are suspected of employing scammy techniques in their structured data markup. Ensure that the markup used on your website meets the structured data guidelines of Google if you want to be featured in their search results.
An important factor to appreciate is that implementing schema markup is no guarantee that your website is going to get a rich snippet automatically displayed during search results. Google and other search engines have the final say when it comes to rich snippets.