Ever wonder why, when searching for a movie, restaurant, product or review on Google, sites like Amazon and Yelp seem to look a bit different than everything else in the search results?

What these sites are doing is using something called schema structured data markup to highlight various parts of their website that they’d like Google and other search engines to display on the search engine results page (SERP) as a rich snippet.

Schema markup is a type of structured data that was created through a collaboration between Google, Bing and Yahoo in an effort to provide a richer experience for their users. What schema does is tell search engines what various elements on your page mean instead of just what they say, which provides much deeper context to those elements. For instance: is “Toronto, Canada” a movie? A location? The name of a restaurant? With schema-structured data (schema markup), you tell search engines which one of these it is, and in turn, it will provide a better experience for the user.

Imagine this: For a specific keyword, you show up third on the search engine results page, but because you’ve incorporated schema into your page, your search comes up with five-star reviews and more relevant content than the other generated results that simply have a standard meta description.

Chances are that users will click on the most relevant result to their search, and since Google was able to understand the context of your content, Google is able to present your content in a much better way that is more relevant to the user. Because of this, whether you’re first or third on the results page, not only will you drive traffic to your website and get more clicks, but the traffic coming to your website is most likely looking for exactly what you offer, which will reduce bounce rate as well as increase sales, conversion and overall engagement.

Here is how Schema.org explains structured data on their website:

“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.”

Here are a few examples of what schema looks like in search with rich snippets:

Movies:

rs-frozen.png

Product:

rs-lava-lamp.png

Recipes:

rs-recipes.png

Reviews:

iPhone_6S_Review.png

Events:

Adele_Tour.png

Software Apps:

rsmobileapps.png

Videos:

rs-videos-stream-daily-show.png

Articles:

BlueJays.png

Most people are so obsessed with getting to the number one spot in Google that they miss this golden opportunity; however, as an added benefit of standing out amongst the pack, some SEOs have stated that schema does, in fact, have a direct effect on ranking in SERP. Whether this is true or not, it does have an impact on your click-through rate, which in turn, drives more traffic to your website.

In order for Google to highlight parts of your site in search results, you need to tell it which parts to highlight. In order to do this, you need to wrap parts of your website’s HTML code into predefined tags.

Here’s how it looks.

<script type=”application/ld+json”>

{ “@context” : “http://schema.org”,

 “@type” : “Organization”,

 “name” : “Frozen Lemon Media”,

 “url” : “https://frozenlemonmedia.com”,

 “sameAs” : [ “http://www.facebook.com/frozenlemonmedia”,

   “http://www.twitter.com/frozenlemon1”,

   “http://plus.google.com/+Frozenlemonmedia”]}

</script>

google-screen-shot-Frozen-Lemon-Media-social.jpg

 

The great thing here is that you don’t have to learn any new code to do this – Google provides a structured data markup helper to help you generate schema markup to place on your website.

schema-markup-screenshot.png

The first step is to select the type of content you’d like to display, such as an event, product or any of the many other schemas available.

 

structured-data.jpg

Then start highlighting parts of the page and selecting the associated tag. For instance, if you select your company name, then select ‘name’ from the drop-down menu that appears.

Once you’ve tagged as much as you can (and you should tag as much as you can according to Schema.org), then click on ‘Generate HTML.’

The great thing about schema is that it’s not a plugin, add-on or external script; schema works natively with HTML5, so it’s just a matter of adding the newly generated HTML into your CMS or HTML page.

With SEO and the search engine results page being as competitive as it is, anything you can do to stand out is a good thing. Since only a small portion of companies are using schema markup, this presents a huge opportunity to stand out and present your company in the best possible way.

Have you used schema markup before? Have you noticed it while searching? Share in the comments.

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