02 May 2017

A Walkthrough of Structured Data and Schema Markup with Examples

The existence of structured data is Google admitting they don’t understand your site. At least not 100%, anyways. This isn’t a bad thing, however. In fact, I’d rather control what the search engines think of my page than leave it up to an internet robot.

This isn’t just limited to Google either. It was a collaborative effort from Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex to create schema.org. This is where they house all the schema definitions from “ClaimReview” to “LocalBusiness.”

Structured data will not directly impact your position in the rankings, but it can help your site stand out in the search engine results page. So, if your site is marked up, it becomes eligible as a rich result. If you ever Googled a recipe or researched a new TV, you’ve undoubtedly come across a rich result. Don’t lie to me and say they didn’t catch your eye…

Recipe Schema

Which result is not like the other? At first glance, I’m ready to shame allrecipes.com for not using structured data on their video result ranking #2. Upon further examination, they did add structured data, but they are using Brightcove as its video platform. Unfortunate for them, YouTube dominates the Google results page for video results. Pro Tip: Unless you’re a major online content publisher, use YouTube if you want to see your video in the SERP.

In the quest to get the top spot in Google, people sometimes forgot why they should want to be #1, which is to get clicks. This is the beauty of structured data: you don’t have to be #1 to be selected as a rich result. Your grandma’s famous recipe for mac and cheese can be in position 3 in the search results, and you could still be the rich result displayed. That’s because the number 1 and 2 spots are not marked up (fortunate for you!), so your odds to be clicked just improved because your competitors are not taking advantage of structured data.

So, what should you expect to see when using markup within your content? I’ve listed examples of the most popular schema types, and markups from the around the web.

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Knowledge Graph

It’s not technically a schema type but adding structured data to your site will help visually enhance your site’s attribute in the form of a knowledge graph. These attributes will be general information like site name, logo, social profile links and contact information. This can work alongside Google My Business.

Knowledge Graph - Structured Data

Example (JSON)

Site Search

This schema markup works well with searchers that already know your website. This enables the searcher to search within your site from the search engine results page and can be found underneath the meta description. Searching for content will be easier because the searcher reaches their goal with one less step.

Site Search Schema

Example (JSON)

Breadcrumbs

This search feature can be found underneath the title tag on the results page. It shows where the page’s position is within the website hierarchy. This helps searchers understand the topic of the page by the type of category it falls under.

Breadcrumbs Schema

Example (Microdata)

Recipes

One of the more popular schema types displays multiple items of information. This recipe for chicken pot pie shows an image, user ratings, and prep/cook time, and you can also add the calorie count for the recipe.

Recipe Schema - Structured Data

Example (JSON)

Articles

If you regularly produce content on your website, then the article schema is right for you. By adding this schema markup, your content can be eligible to appear in the top stories carousel or non-carousel search feature using a headline and image. However, to have a better chance of showing up, you must implement accelerated mobile pages(AMP) as well.

Articles Schema

Example (JSON)

Books

This search feature can look like a knowledge graph card, displaying prominently on the search engine results page. If your website sells books, then you can benefit from a direct link to the product page. Unfortunately, for the time being, you must register to participate. However, if you get selected, you get a free spot to advertise your product, which is usually reserved for paid Google shopping accounts. For this page on To Kill a Mockingbird, they included readers’ rating and where to purchase the book.

Book Schema - Structured Data

Example (Microdata)

Courses

This schema type works well in the education sector to attract prospective students. The course must be part of a series or curriculum around a subject. It cannot be a single event or video.

Course Schema - Structured Data

Example (JSON)

Video

The VideoObject schema type allows an embedded video on your page to display a thumbnail image, duration, and the date published. This can be implemented with AMP to be featured in the top stories carousel for mobile. Below is one of the few non-YouTube videos showed on the SERPs, but since CNN is a major online publisher, they were deemed worthy to be in a search feature.

Video Schema - Structured Data

Example (JSON)

Fact Check

This uses the ClaimReview schema type and acts as a fact check for searchers. It uses a summarized version of your claim, who claimed it, and the final fact check. Google claims the site must be an authoritative site to be eligible, but does not offer any further specifics. However, this still falls under the general guidelines for structured data, so any sites that promote violence or hatred will not be eligible. This is part of a continual crackdown on fake news by Google and this may be just the beginning.

FactCheck Schema - Structured Data

Example (JSON)

Local Business

This schema type would work well for your local listings if your site has a physical location. The search feature can be a knowledge graph or carousel depending on the schema type. This schema has the most potential because it has a range of features from opening/closing hours to making an online reservation. The example below has a general LocalBusiness schema type, but there are many more detailed schemas subtypes like LegalService or RealEstateAgent.

LocalBusiness Schema - Structured Data

Example (JSON)

Events

If your site organizes events like a concert venue, then the event schema will be perfect for your situation. The example below is a local music venue and is shown in boxes with a map listing. The Events schema will never show an expired event.

Event Schema - Structured Data

Example (JSON)

Products

If your website is e-commerce based, then the Products and Offer schema is necessary. The example below displays a rating system and reviews, but it can also display price and availability.

Product Schema - Structured Data

Example (Microdata)

The markups listed are just a small part of what you can do with structured data. There are 100s of schema types you can mark your site up with, but not all of them come with a fancy search feature. Most are just informational to help guide search engine crawlers to quickly understand what your page is about.

The range for Schema types can be far and wide from gameTip about video gaming tips to help to rescue the princess or lyrics, so you can mark up your favorite songs from the Beatles. Structured data can be described as a highly-detailed categorization of the web. Keep an eye out for more information on this in the future since Google keeps hinting they will make markup a ranking algorithm. After all, it’s only the beginning for structured data.

Resources

Structured Data Testing Tool

Nerdy Data (search the source code of every web page for more schema examples)

Google Structured Data Guide

Schema.org

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