How to Use Schema Markup
By: Linda Fulkerson
Have you ever received a phone call and the first phrase out of the caller’s mouth is, “Don’t hang up!” Well, that’s me, screaming through the monitor – Don’t Click Away! I know the title sounds geeky and hard, but give this post a chance. I promise, it’s not hard. It doesn’t take long. And it can REALLY help you promote your books, your ministry organizations, yourself as an author – even book reviews in search engines. Oh, and it’s FREE!
Plus, it’s the way the web works nowadays, so ignoring, well . . . ignoring it will just help your competitors outrank you. According to Search Engine Watch, “Schema is proving to be very important in SEO . . .”
Great. Then let’s talk about Schema Markup.
If you’ve never heard of Schema Markup, I’ll explain what it is, what it does, how it can help you, and how you can easily implement it.
What exactly is Schema Markup?
I’ll start with the word “Schema,” which, according to one dictionary definition, means “a structured framework or plan.” Schema.org is a collaborative effort between Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex to structure “micro data” for a variety of item types, including Product (books), Person, Review, Article, Organization, Events (book signings, presentations, etc.), and many more, but these are the most relevant item types for writers.
Okay, never mind what Schema Markup IS, let’s move on to what it DOES and why that’s important to writers.
What does Schema Markup do?
That structured micro data I just mentioned is used to enhance the search experience for users. In other words, it helps the search engines better know what content to display when someone searches for something. According to Google, Schema Markup provides “detailed information search engines need to improve the user experience.”
The way the data helps search engines is that it gives them a better understanding of what the page’s content is all about.
Some search engines, including Google, use this micro data to display “rich snippets,” which are basically summaries of a page’s content that help search engine users understand immediately what the page is about.
Now, for the question that’s really on your mind . . .
What does Schema Markup mean to me?
Have you ever used a search engine and clicked on one of the search results only to realize when you got to the site you’d clicked on it had nothing to do with what you wanted to learn? By using Schema Markup (trust me, it’s not hard – but we’ll get to the how-to part in just a few minutes!), you’re letting search engine users know exactly what your content is about before they click. This means no surprises when they get somewhere they didn’t want to be.
How does that help you? For one thing, these “rich snippets” boosts the visibility of your content by making it display on search engine results pages (SERPs) in a more prominent, more credible manner. Plus, people will know your site’s content matches what they’re looking for before they click. This means they won’t immediately click away, or “bounce,’ off your site. A high bounce rate can negatively impact your authority with search engines.
Examples of Schema Markup “rich snippets” in a search engine results page:
Here is a screenshot of two search engine results for the same TV series – only one website (IMDB) used Schema Markup, which allowed Google to display rich snippets in their search result. The result from Battlestar Galactica’s official page pales in comparison:
And here are screenshots of something we, as authors and writers, will find useful – rich snippets search results for a book and a review:
Note how the Book rich snippet shares the date of an upcoming book release by the author? And the Review rich snippet displays the star rating right in the search engine results. Hopefully you can see how this will help your content display well in search results.
How to Easily Implement Schema Markup with WordPress
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” Well, with WordPress the phrase is, “There’s a plugin for that.” In fact, there are a LOT of WordPress plugins that will help you insert Schema Markup into your posts, but after test-driving a few of them, I chose All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets.
Once you install the plugin, an input form will appear somewhere (depending upon which theme you use). The form has a dropdown list to choose which item type you want to create a markup for. Here’s a screenshot of the “People” item type:
As you can see, it’s very easy to add this information to your site. The Schema Markup will display a summary box on your posts. Here is a screenshot of the one published on Linda’s Story, using the People item type, since the post is about me.
The final step in the process is optional, but if you want to check and see how your content will display in the Google search results, you can enter the URL of your post using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool, which is part of Google’s Webmaster Tools. Here’s a screenshot of the Linda’s Story rich snippet:
This tool also checks your content to see whether or not Google Authorship is enabled on the post. On the next “Today’s Tip” (scheduled for Friday), I’ll explain how to set that up.
This whole process probably takes longer to do than it did for you to read this post, but I hope you can see how useful Schema Markup will be for you.
Before I wrap this up, I want to give a shout out and thanks to my brother, Jeff Nixon, who is a graphic designer and social media manager, for encouraging me to get on board with Schema Markup. If you’re a cat lover or have children/grandchildren, you may be interested in watching the fun videos about cat songs produced by one of his clients, Feline Folk Purrductions.
If you have any questions or comments, please use the comment area below. If you found this post helpful, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or whichever social profile you prefer.
Have a blessed day!