How to Use Schema.org’s Structured Data

Schema.org (or just Schema) is a particular vocabulary of tags, which are also called microdata, that can be inserted into HTML code to enhance the manner by which a web page is presented in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Code Example Enhanced by Schema Tags

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Book">
<span itemprop="name">Search Engine Optimization For Dummies</span>
<span itemprop="author">Peter Kent</span>
</div>

An Inroduction to Schema.org Structured Data

A product of the cooperative project between Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo!, Schema.org was established to assist you in providing the correct information that search engines require so they can figure out your page content in order to present the best search results at any moment. Your web pages will display a lot better in SERPs if it has Schema markups inserted into its HTML code. It does this by improving the rich snippets that are found right below the page title.

rich snippet
A Rich Snippet provides more data about a particular web page than a normal search result.

In the example above, the second search result has a four and a half star rating and the date when it was published. Schema lets you add both of these things. Look at the first result. It doesn’t have rich snippets. Rather, it shows the meta description or additional information that Google added. To obtain the rich snippet review, use the code below:

<div itemprop="aggregateRating" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/AggregateRating">
Rated <span itemprop="ratingValue">[Aggregate rating given]</span>/5 based on <span itemprop="reviewCount">[Number of reviews]</span> reviews
</div>

To produce code of your own, use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.

Google's Structured Data Markup Helper
Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper

Explaining the terms Schema, microdata, and structured data

Structured data is a way of grouping a name and a variable that assist search engines in the categorization and indexing of a website’s content. As one type of structured data, microdata is used with HTML5. Schema.org is a program by Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo! whose goal is to provide a specific group of consensus definitions of microdata tags.

Can I Use Schema Instead of Open Graph?

Used by Facebook, Open Graph is a category of markup tags used to parse information, such as images and descriptions, to show on a web page. Compared to Open Graph, Schema has a more specific set of options. While they both can be used at the same time, Open Graph cannot replace Schema.

The Best Practices of SEO Using Structured Data

Schema Item Types

A wide variety of product, items, events and even recipes can be marked up using structured data. The following list represents common things that are marked up by structured data:

  • Creative Works
  • Events
  • Organizations
  • People
  • Places
  • Consumer and Business products

A comprehensive list of products that can be marked up with Schema can be found by going here.

Any type of information, product or item has characteristics that you can use to describe it in greater detail. For instance, a “book” which is part of the “creative work” category has the characteristics “name” (The name of the book), “publisher” (The publisher of the book), “numberOfPages” (The number of pages in the book), “isbn” (The ISBN of the book), and more, based on how much detail you want to provide about it. Likewise, an “event” can be considered a “VisualArtsEvent”, “SportsEvent”, or any similar kind of event.

Search Engines That Support Schema

Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and Yandex support Schema and keep up its vocabulary; however, whether other search engines use Schema markup to alter how content on web pages is presented is not clear.

How Structured Data Impacts Search Result Rankings

There’s been a lot of discussion as well as experiments performed to determine whether structured data impacts search engine rankings. Up to now, it has not been proven conclusively that Schema markup improves the rankings. However, there is some evidence that suggests more detailed rich snippets (such as those that can be developed with Schema) have improved click-through rates. To get the most useful results, it’s good to test out Schema markup on your own and monitor how your users respond to the Schema rich snippets.

Can Schema Be Used with Other Structured Data?

While Schema is capable of being used with RDFa and JSON-LD, microformats do not support it.

Published by ege

I'm a Toronto-based SEO expert who has been providing cost effective, professional SEO services in the digital marketing industry for more than 10 years.