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Why is Schema Markup Important? via Marcus Tober of Searchmetrics

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Marcus Tober, CTO of Searchmetrics, to discuss the ins and outs of Schema markup.

In my interview with Marcus I asked him to explain what Schema is and why it’s important. Marcus also discussed how websites could make better use of Schema markup, and I asked him to provide some examples of websites that are using it exceptionally well.

For my full interview with Marcus, please see the video below:

Here are some key takeaways from the video:

  • Schema is a markup language founded and maintained by the big search engines, it is a way to structure the data that you have on your site. Marcus says it’s highly recommended that you use Schema on your website because it allows search engines to better understand your content.
  • Schema can enhance search results, for example, by letting search engines know what products you have, the price of your products, how long shipping times are, and other data that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to interpret.
  • Data marked up using Schema appears in the rich snippets of search results. For example, when you search for something and you see star ratings next to the results, that’s due to Schema markup.
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Example of a product review with Schema markup.
April 22, 2014

  • Marcus says when you’re running a business you need to make money, so you need to take advantage of all the opportunities available to drive more traffic.
  • For example, if you’re a retailer selling your products online, Schema is the best way to enhance your search results by showing users the information they need to make a purchase decision before even clicking on the link to your site.
  • Marcus says this could have a significant impact on click-through rates because right there in the search results a customer can see if you have a better price than competitors and/or lower shipping time.
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Example of competitive sites using Schema markup.
April 22, 2014

  • It’s important to differentiate between information-based search queries and transaction-based search queries, Marcus says. Schema is highly recommended for transaction-based search queries because the goal is to drive sales rather than traffic.
  • When it comes to information-based search queries it gets a bit tricky because the more information you give Google the more it can display in the Knowledge Graph. Marcus said sites like Wikipedia have been losing traffic because the information is more readily accessible in Google’s Knowledge Graph when performing and information-based search.
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Example of Google’s Knowledge Graph (on right) satisfying a query.
April 22, 2014

  • Marcus says if you have a site that monetizes its traffic with advertising, you should really think about what kind of Schema markup is the best for you. In the end your site should have an added value to the user beyond what Google’s Knowledge Graph can provide.
  • Searchmetrics’ software shows users where there is potential for their content to be integrated with Schema markup. Their software tries to help users understand the keyword universe and the overall health of queries that are important to a user’s business.
  • Marcus points out Amazon as an example of a company that demonstrates what Schema markup looks like when done really well, and the funny thing is they don’t even use Schema at all. Google realizes how important Amazon is and pulls the structured data directly from Amazon, such as price, rating, availability, and so on.
  • The food industry utilizes Schema markup very well, Marcus says. Recipe websites are an example of Schema used well, if you search for a recipe you get information such as cooking time, calorie count, and serving size all within the SERPs.
Screen Shot 2014 04 22 at 10.23.54 PM Why is Schema Markup Important? via Marcus Tober of Searchmetrics

Example of recipe websites using Schema.
April 22, 2014

  • Another example Marcus points out are movie sites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB, they all have great integration with Schema. These movie sites are also part of Google’s Knowledge Graph, which means they have twice the visibility in the SERPs and two sources from which to drive traffic.
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Example of both Schema and Knowledge Graph placement in SERPs.
April 22, 2014

  • Marcus recommends every business that has a website with structured data should start using Schema markup. That doesn’t mean to use every Schema property available, but at least use the ones that are displayed in the SERPS. Those are properties like price, rating, product type, and things like that.
  • Marcus says one of the greatest challenges for clients is understanding that you can’t force Google to display Schema even if though it’s included on your site. It can be frustrating to see Google displaying Schema for competitors’ sites but not yours.
  • Google needs to find a balance when it comes to displaying rich snippets. If everyone is over optimizing their site with Schema markup it could hinder the user experience because the SERPs would be cluttered with too much information. That’s why Google is selective about when and where Schema is displayed.
  • You could even get a penalty for over optimizing your site with Schema markup. For example, if you add star ratings when your site doesn’t have a system where users can provide ratings that would be considered abusing Schema markup. Your site would then get a penalty that would cause it to no longer be able to display Schema.

Learn more about Schema

If you want to learn more about about Schema be sure to visit Schema.org, as well as Marcus’s own study demonstrating the benefits of Schema markup.

For more video interviews please visit SEJ’s YouTube page.

 

 

 Why is Schema Markup Important? via Marcus Tober of Searchmetrics

Murray Newlands

Murray is Deputy Editor at Search Engine Journal,Murray founded The Mail in 2013, an angel-funded startup publication covering performance marketing and mobile marketing. Murray is an advisor to a number of bay area startups including VigLink. In 2011 Wiley published his book Online Marketing: A User's Manual. Born in England, Murray moved to the USA in 2011 being recognized by the US government as "an alien of extraordinary ability". Murray co-authored Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals with Bruce Clay. Murray runs the agency Influence People bases in San Francisco.
 Why is Schema Markup Important? via Marcus Tober of Searchmetrics

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2 thoughts on “Why is Schema Markup Important? via Marcus Tober of Searchmetrics

  1. SCHEMA is really useful, I’ve mainly used it for local clients and physical locations. I didn’t know you could get a penalty for over optimising with it, I guess it makes sense though!

  2. If anyone that’s going to benefit the most from Schema Markup protocol, it’s Google. It’s clearly visible with Google showing information on their Knowledge Graph, discouraging users to dig deeper into the other natural results.