Schema.org is a new coding sintax based in html that was developed through a partnership between the major search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo). Schema.org allows webmasters to markup their site and provide information to search engines that can be used to enhance the displayed search results. However, according to Matt Cutts, utilizing this schema set on your website does not currently influence SEO ranking factors, so your site is not likely to rank any better after implementing this markup. So, you are then likely asking why would I use this? Well, the schemas allow you to enhance your listing in search results. In this post, I am going to make an argument for why every website that provides information on a person, place or thing or that sells a product should be utilizing this new language.
What is Schema.org?
Schema.org was launched on June 2, 2011 and it has seen relatively slow adoption rates (in my opinion) considering the huge potential it provides. Schema.org created a number of html tags that can used to describe objects on your webpage to help search engines pull out the most important information for their searchers.
The example of this markup provided by Schema.org utilizes the movie Avatar. Below is a little bit of code with the Schema.org elements bolded. Basically, the markup makes it explicitly clear to the crawler what role various names, dates, etc. play in regards to the given page. Then, this can be translated into beautified search results that provide the name of the director, the genre and anything else you may have provided to the search engines.
<div itemscope itemtype ="http://schema.org/Movie"> <h1 itemprop="name">Avatar</h1> <span>Director: <span itemprop="director">James Cameron</span> (born August 16, 1954)</span> <span itemprop="genre">Science fiction</span> <a href="../movies/avatar-theatrical-trailer.html" itemprop="trailer">Trailer</a> </div>
Who is Using it?
Schema.org has created a wide variety of markup language that can allow webmasters from a number of disciplines to take advantage of it. For example, the markup includes language for events, products, movies, music, recipes and more.
Many large sites such as Food.com, Netflix and Ticketmaster have begun to take full advantage of schema.org.
Who is Not Using it?
Surprisingly though many retailers with brick and mortar roots have not yet jumped onto the bandwagon and they are definitely missing out. Sears, Walmart and Target are just some of the few that are not yet utilizing Schema.org.
Also, many of the largest e-commerce sites are still not fully implementing Schema.org, including Ebay and Amazon!
Benefits to Your Site
Now let me show you a case study that I found at Search Mojo’s blog focusing on a “tan chase lounge with storage”. This is the best way to illustrate why utilizing this markup is a no brainer.
Can you tell who is using Schema.org markup? Are you more likely to engage with one of these results over another?
Overstock.com is the only site of the three that is using the markup and the search display is much more appealing to a searcher. (When more research comes out I will update this post with figures showing how much markup can increase engagement rates.)
By utilizing the markup Overstock.com was able to display the ratings and price of the product. This information is on the pages for all three of the sites, but by utilizing markup Overstock.com made it clear to the search engine where to look to find valuable information to display to searchers.
The ratings information allows the result to pop in the rankings and provides more detailed information to the searcher, which lends credibility to the search result. All of these factors will create positive increases in engagement rates.
The most difficult part about Schema.org is the additional time investment required for companies and SEOs. It can be very costly for large sites to go through and update existing pages with schema markup.
However, the increased engagement rates and growth in organic traffic have the potential to boost ROI across the site by bringing more engaged searchers.
No matter where your site currently is, schema markup should be added to your future on-page optimizations. As your SEO team updates existing pages and develops new pages they should simply implement markup as they optimize title tags and write meta-data. This time investment has potential for dramatic payoffs.
I encourage you to become an advocate for schema markup and to utilize it aggressively to beautify your displayed search results and to increase organic traffic.