How to Boost Your SEO by Using Schema Markup

One of the latest evolutions in SEO is called schema markup. This new form of optimization is one of the most powerful, but least-utilized forms of SEO available today. Once you grasp the concept and method of schema markup, you can boost your website in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

My goal in this article is to show you exactly how to get started using schema markup for your website.

First, let’s understand what schema markup is.

Schema markup is code (semantic vocabulary) that you put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. If you’ve ever used rich snippets, you’ll understand exactly what schema markup is all about.

Here’s an example of a local business that has markup on its event schedule page. The SERP entry looks like this:

google search result

Image from Support.google.com.

The schema markup told the SERP to display a schedule of upcoming hotel events. That, for the user, is exceptionally helpful.

Here are some facts about schema markup:

Schema tells the search engines what your data means, not just what it says.

The content on your website gets indexed and returned in search results. Obviously. But with schema markup, some of that content gets indexed and returned in a different way.

How? Because the markup tells the search engine what that content means. For example, let’s say the word “Neil Patel” appears on an article. The search engine sees this, and produces a SERP entry with “Neil Patel.” However, if I put the right schema markup around the name “Neil Patel,” I’ve just told that search engine that “Neil Patel” is the author of the article, not just a couple random words. The search engine then provides results that display better information for the user who was searching for “Neil Patel.”

Schema.org explains it this way:

Most webmasters are familiar with HTML tags on their pages. Usually, HTML tags tell the browser how to display the information included in the tag. For example, <h1>Avatar</h1> tells the browser to display the text string “Avatar” in a heading 1 format. However, the HTML tag doesn’t give any information about what that text string means — “Avatar” could refer to the hugely successful 3D movie, or it could refer to a type of profile picture—and this can make it more difficult for search engines to intelligently display relevant content to a user.

Schema markup uses a unique semantic vocabulary in microdata format.

You don’t need to learn any new coding skills. Web pages with markup still use HTML. The only difference is adding bits of schema.org vocabulary to HTML Microdata.

Schema.org, the website for schema markup, was created by a collaborative team from Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

what is schema.org

It’s not too often that competitors come together to help each other, but Schema.org is exactly that kind of inter-industry collaboration. What you have, then, is an agreed-upon set of code markers that tells the major search engines what to do with the data on your website.

Schema markup was invented for users.

When a website has schema markup in place, users can see in the SERPs what a website is all about, where they are, what they do, how much stuff costs, plus plenty of other stuff. Some people have taken to calling schema markup “your virtual business card.”

This is a user-focused improvement. Search engines exist for users to gain the information they need. Schema markup does exactly that.

Second, let’s understand why it’s so important.

Schema markup helps your website rank better for all kinds of content types. There is data markup for…

  • Articles
  • Local businesses
  • Restaurants
  • TV episodes and ratings
  • Book Reviews
  • Movies
  • Software Applications
  • Events
  • Products

There are hundreds of markup types — from toy stores to medical dose schedules. If you have any type of data on your website, there’s a good chance that it’s going to have an associated itemscope and itemtype.

Websites that use schema markup will rank better in the SERPs than companies without markup. One study determined that websites with markup rank an average of four positions higher in the SERPs than those without schema markup. While it’s not totally clear that this higher result is due to the markup alone, there is obviously some correlation.

Right now, one third of Google’s search results incorporate rich snippets, which includes schema markup. However, according to Searchmetrics, only 0.3 of all websites use schema markup.

In other words, there are millions of websites missing out on a huge source of SEO potential. If you use schema markup, you’ll automatically have a leg up on the vast majority of your competition.

Third, let’s understand how to use schema markup on your website.

Now, let’s talk about how to use schema markup. Your goal is to rank better, look better, and do better in the SERPs and in front of users.

Schema markup will help you. With your website in hand, follow these steps.

1. Go to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.

google structured data markup helper

2. Select the type of data that you plan to markup.

There are several options listed. This list is not exhaustive. For the sample below, I’m going to use “Articles” since it’s one of the most common types of content.

3. Paste in the URL of the page or article that you want to markup.

If you only have HTML, you can paste that instead. Then, click “Start Tagging.”

structured data markup helper

The page will load in the markup tool, and provide you with the workspace for the next phase of markup — tagging items. You’ll see your web page in the left pane, and the data items in the right pane.

structured data markup

4. Highlight and select the type of elements to be marked up.

Since this piece of content from KISSmetrics is an article, I’m going to highlight the name of the article in order to add “Name” markup. When I finish highlighting, I select “Name” from the tool tip.

structured data markup

When I select “Name,” the tool adds it to “Data Items” in the right pane.

structured data markup

5. Continue adding markup items.

Use the list of data items as a guide, and highlight the other items in your article to add them to the markup list. You probably won’t be able to tag every item in the list. Just add what you can.

6. Create the HTML.

Once you’ve finished, click “Create HTML.”

create html

In the following page, you will see the HTML of your page with the relevant microdata inserted in the spots that you selected.

google structured data markup helper

7. Add schema markup to your web page.

Next, you will go into your CMS (or source code if you’re not using a CMS) and add the highlighted snippets in the appropriate spots. Find the yellow markers on the scrollbar to find the schema markup code.

yellow bars that point to the correct markup

A simple alternative is to download the automatically-generated HTML file, and copy/paste it into your CMS or source code.

structure data markup download

When you click “Finish,” you will be presented with a series of “Next Steps.”

next step

8. Use the Structured Data Testing Tool to find out what your page will look like with the added markup.

Instead of analyzing a published web page, I’m going to analyze the code that the tool generated for me, and which I downloaded.

structured data tool

Once the code is pasted, I click “preview.” The testing tool shows me what the article will look like in Google search results:

14-structured-data-testing-tool

In addition, I can inspect every markup element that I added.

schema item type property

If necessary, I can edit the HTML directly in the testing tool in order to update the schema and preview results again.

Tips on using schema markup.

The purpose of this article was to get you started in the world of schema markup. It’s a big world.

The next few tips will show you how to dive even deeper, and gain even richer results from schema.

Find the schemas that are most commonly used.

Schema.org provides a list of the most common types of schema markup. You can visit the Organization of Schemas page to see this list. Check out the types that are best suited to your business.

organization of schemas

Find any and all schema types that you need.

As I mentioned previously, there is a myriad of markup types. To get the full list, visit The Type Hierarchy. This master list provides most of the markup types that are available.

schema.org the type hierarchy

The more you markup, the better.

Schema.org’s instructions explain clearly, “the more content you mark up, the better.” When you start understanding the vast array of itemtypes, you begin to see just how much there is on your web page that you can mark up.

Keep in mind the disclaimer, however: “You should mark up only the content that is visible to people who visit the web page and not content in hidden div’s or other hidden page elements.”

Schema Markup for Now and the Future

As simple as schema markup is to implement, it’s surprising how few businesses and websites have taken advantage of it.

Schema markup is one of those SEO innovations that will probably be with us for a long time. Now is the time to learn and implement the relevant microdata to improve your search results. Doing so right away will put you ahead of the curve, giving you a leg up on the competition.

How do you use schema markup for your company’s website?

About the Author: is the Chief Evangelist of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

  1. jacob varghese May 06, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Very helpful article Niel! It’s a nit onerous for the average user to do and this, perhaps is the reason only 0.3% of site do it.

  2. Hello,

    Excellent, Two days ago I went to Structured Data Testing Tool, but unable to create this. But now I can do it sure.

    Thanks

  3. This is one of the Best blog I have ever read for Schema. All the concept about Schema is cleared in my mind. Well I am going to follow this blog daily. Please keep posted such kind of blogs which are even easy to learn and easy way to use on website.

    Thanks For sharing this! Its Awesome. :)

  4. Great article, Neil! Thanks for Sharing

  5. Mads Ellegård May 07, 2014 at 1:00 am

    This is by far the best article I’ve read about Schema!

  6. Hi Neil,

    I just read an article from Search Engine Land that a schema markup can actually improve my conversions by up to 30% because of the rich snippets that it give to my search listings. That truly highlights the important of having schema markups.

    I was wondering whether we can actually use the markups for web 2.0 properties like blogspot or WordPress?

    Looking forward to hear from you.

    Regards,
    Edmund

  7. Awesome info. Neil !! it will help to many webmasters, thank for your efforts to create lovely post, technically sounds good. we must have to update schema code in our site to get the benefits in search results.

  8. Awesome post Neil :)

  9. Great article Neil. Rich snippets are so important for SEO, surprisely how few websites make use of it.

  10. Phenomenal content. I can only imagine how long it took to develop. Kudos to you! And thank you!!

  11. Thank you for such an informative article. However I’m still confused about schema market up and a meta description – especially for blog posts and article? Can someone care to elaborate?

    Also I believe these can be done via a plugin on WordPress. Is this recommended? Thanks

  12. Indeed this is a very interesting explanation to that topic.

    Two questions :
    Should a website set up markups for every content like a presentation page or a even a home page ? Or it only makes sense for very specific topics (event, article,…)

    For a blog (article) is it very easy to create ? because it seems that this article does not have schema markups :) Rich snippets are not enough ?

  13. Donald Piccione May 07, 2014 at 7:11 am

    Hi Neil, I have been following this Blog for a while now, so I thought to leave my comment. Really good article by the way.
    My thought is the following. Probably if used for articles I don’t think it is the best tool. For example if you have 10 static pages in your website it can be handy to use it. If you have a website with maybe 200+ articles it becomes time consuming to add it to your source code of each page. Even if I am not working as a web designer I think the best solution would be to modify the CMS functions to add the correct Schema.org. So when you will create new posts they will be marked up automatically. I believe now most of the new themes in WordPress, Joomla, etc are using schema.org for articles (at least the ones I checked they were ok with Schema). So I will leave the use of this tool when I have to create an event.
    I use a lot Structured Data Testing Tool, but not its brother Markup Helper but of course, better to have it than not have it. Regards, Donald

    • Donald, thanks for the great feedback. Glad to hear from you. Please let me know if you need any help along the way :)

  14. I could never really figure out how schema really worked before but I always knew it was important. This blog post has cleared it up for me. Thanks Neil!

  15. Anchit Shethia May 07, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Great share buddy, I have tried doing this for some of my posts, but I am not sure I did the scheme right way, this tutorial shall help me.

  16. I found this article very helpful, especially for beginners like me. Just curious though, if you have a WordPress site, do you just paste the HTML file that you created into the actual post? What did you mean by source code? Thanks!

  17. Aaron Bradley May 07, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Good stuff Neil – a nice introduction.

    A quick note, though, on the (admittedly confusing) nomenclature surrounding schema.org.

    You speak of schema.org as being “the “website for schema markup.” Actually, there is no such thing as “schema markup.” As unfortunate as it is that schema.org is a resolvable website address, schema.org is actually the name of the vocabulary to which to make reference throughout this article.

    This may seem pedantic, but using “schema markup” and “schema.org” interchangeably can spawn further confusion. When, for example, you say the type hierarchy “provides most of the markup types that are available” that’s not true: the type hierarchy of schema.org provides *all* of the types and properties available for schema.org vocabulary.

    “Schema” is a word that certainly can be used legitimately, but it is a generic concept in the world of structured data markup (just as it is a generic concept in the realm of XML schemas). schema.org’s predecessor, data-vocabulary.org, is also a collection of schemas that can be marked up using microdata or RDFa, but I don’t think you’re referring to data-vocabulary.org when you speak of “schema markup.”

    Thanks again for your piece – and for your perseverance with my finicky comment. :)

    • Aaron, thanks for this great feedback. I look forward to hearing more from you. Please let me know if you need any help along the way :)

  18. It sounds complex which is why only .3% are making use of it, but in practice very easy to implement. Great share Neil.

  19. I had heard about schema markup too but had not used it till now. But, after reading this article, the Idea is clear! Hats off kissmetrics! thanks for making things easy!

  20. I was not clear about the schema metadata but after reading this article I have cleared my doubt and will going to use it in my website.

    Thanks Neil for sharing such a quality and useful information

  21. Fantastic. Really fantastic blog.

    Thanks
    Chetan

  22. I still have some hard time with adding this to WordPress. I don’t know where exactly in the article should i paste the code. Or what exactly do i have to edit in WordPress for each article in order to make it work?

    Thanks :)

  23. Wow Neil, not only is this guide not an eye-opener for me, but you actually went in-depth on how to set it up and take advantage of it (instead of just introducing me to the topic and leaving me on my own to set it up). Thanks for the insights.

  24. Great article!

    But then… one wonders: why isn’t KISSmetrics using schema on its own blog (nor website) markup? :)

  25. Really nice article, thanks for information

  26. I have been looking for schema markup articles. This article hits me.

  27. Nice article, thanks to share. But i don’t know about a Schema Markup. Can you give understand wit a simple example?

  28. This website is so informative. I am going to keep this site as one my go to basics. This article is amazing and incredibly useful. I am going to be going through my site to add schema markups. Sites just looks more impressive with it.

  29. Epic post….Schema markup is a essential thing if you want to grow your business or want to be in competition. I was looking for a proper information on this and finally got it here. Thanks for sharing such a informative post. Worthy and informative from all aspects…..:-)

  30. This was very helpful. As you said, it makes sense to try and use (and excel) in something that is still not being used by the masses. I will try to implement this on my couple of Word-press sites. Thanks for sharing this and other helpful posts. I haveBookmarked the site now.

  31. Neil, great article.

    I’ve had this page bookmarked for the past two weeks waiting to get back to it; though now I’re read it, I think you’ve just doubled my workload for the NEXT two weeks, lol.

    However, you know as well as I do… top 1% results are the direct result of correct effort and correct action, not whimsical thinking!

    Thanks again ;)

    - Paul

  32. Thanks guy for this useful article!
    Will apply soon.

  33. Very good article, but how to use this each and every pages and post of wordpress site?

    • Prasanth, could you clarify the question. I am not sure what you are asking. Would love to help :)

  34. Nasir, thanks for sharing. We look forward to hearing more from you :)

  35. I have never seen about Schema markup but after reading this post, I found that Schema Markup is very useful for get ranking in Search engines. I am following this post right now.

  36. Hi Niel,

    I haven’t seen many examples of schema correllating to ranking changes – so I did a test. So far its proving a ranking correllation for the keyterms that apply to the page. We weren’t able to do any other SEO that affected that page nor have we seen a sitewide lift in rankings.
    I’d be glad to chat about the study and see if you agree or have loop-holes to point out!
    Thanks, Nicole
    @NicoleCherieH
    http://www.slideshare.net/nchess/structured-markup-with-schema-org

  37. I’ve implement schemas on one of my websites but didn’t saw any improvment in rankings.

    By my oppinion, it doesn’t help SEO as advertised on may websites. It may help you to get more clicks from organic search engine traffic. Rich Snipets, Google Authorship, Ratings – these always make your listing stand out of all the others search results.

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