Schema Markup in 2021

Schema Markup in 2021

Getting The Best From Your Structured Data

Developing schema markup (or structured data) for your website is a fundamental process in SEO that helps search bots understand your web pages better. As a result and if implemented correctly, schema markup can provide you with exponential growth and visibility from rich to featured snippets, helping to steer your website towards the top of SERPs.

The key to gaining these added benefits is understanding how, why and when to implement the semantic markup to your website. After all, the competition for these illustrious snippets is fierce and dedicating time and budget to the cause has to be worthwhile.

Is it realistic to get snippets from schema markup?

The simple answer to this question is yes! All good SEO comes from a base of having conducted comprehensive research. By research, I am referring to keyword research, competitor research and audience research. Without knowing how your target audience is searching, why your competitors are targeting particular keywords and when these trends are peaking, you are going to have a difficult time getting new and relevant traffic to your website.

If you haven’t covered these bases, schema markup is not an area you will want to advance in at this stage, due to its need for consistent and well researched data.

Optimising your website for structured data can be tricky but it can be made significantly easier with well built page templates that allow for consistent identifier attributes that signal where relevant data points can be found. Making sure your pages also have great on-page optimisation and content will open up opportunities with structured data.

What is the best way to implement schema markup?

There are a number of ways to successfully implement schema markup on your website but two common methods that are used by SEOs and developers are through JavaScript (JSON Schema) implementation and through HTML markup.

Using JSON Schema

Using JSON schema language to markup a page on your website is an effective method to create verified structured data. For SEOs and site owners looking to adapt pages to have relevant markup without needing to change templates in HTML, this may be the solution for you.

Through the use of a tool like Google Tag Manager you can utilise ID or CSS selectors on pages that contain the data you would like to serve for given attributes. Making a set of these data attributes or variables will help you form the basis of your schema tag, which you can then select to fire only on relevant pages.

I prefer this method for websites where changing page templates is not a process that can be completed without great difficulty because of:

  • Time and budget constraints.
  • Issues with site complexity.

It means that you can use external resources to extract site data without having to change site behaviour or templates. However, it is worth noting that injecting JavaScript through third party resources requires careful testing before final implementation because it can lead to functionality and UX issues.

Using HTML Markup (Microdata)

This should be cited as the safer way to implement schema markup to your pages with John Mueller of Google discussing structured data benefits on Twitter recently:

"If you can implement the SD on the page itself, I'd aim for that. GTM is great for trying SD out & fine-tuning it, but on-page SD is much more straight-forward & usually easier to monitor/maintain."

From this we can determine that Google prefers HTML structured data markup on-page over JSON/GTM implementation and this method does have many benefits.

By hard-coding your markup on page templates, you have the ability to save on adding additional resources that could affect page speeds and site performance. With Google’s May 2021 core update focusing specifically on page experience, it’s certainly not a bad idea to be thinking about how much resource could be saved by reducing the need for third party elements and excess scripts.

Also, building your site with structured data in mind can help keep your page templates lean, the data consistent and content concise. You will likely require the help of a developer to implement the structured data correctly on-page and additional changes could mean that rising costs surface. However, if you are happy to spend building a site that’s incredibly future-proof, this would be the way to go.

What are common types of schema markup?

We continue to see a rising number of structured data sets being created for a variety of purposes. Some of the most common schema implementations that are available to use are:

  • Article – If you’re a publisher, using ‘Article’ markup can provide you with enhanced snippets in Google’s news aggregator feed.
  • Product – If you’re an e-commerce business, using ‘Product’ markup can offer rich snippets including price and stock information for your goods.
  • Local Business – ‘Local Business’ markup helps display Google’s Knowledge Panel with map listings and company information to the end user.
  • Video – If your site contains a lot of video content, you can use ‘Video’ markup in conjunction with other schema to feature in places like Google Discover and at the top of SERPs for featured snippets or “position zero” spots.

Develop, Test, Implement, Iterate

Structured data is an evolving landscape and therefore always requires iteration in order to achieve constant results. Looking at how search engines develop their use of structured data will help you decide how, why and when you need to implement schema.

The key to all good schema markup is testing, what works for one website or page template may not work for another. Luckily, Google provides a Rich Results Test tool to help you experiment with your structured data sets, as well as having the ability to test the markup of your competitors. Why not give it a go and start working on your schema skills in 2021.