Structured Data Schema SEO Usage Guide

Schema markup (schema.org) is structured data that helps search engines understand the info on your website, read this guide for a better SEO

By Claudio Pires
Updated on July 15, 2023
Structured Data Schema SEO Usage Guide

Google uses structured data on the web to understand the page’s content and gather general information about the web and the world. For example, here is a JSON-LD structured data snippet that might appear on the contact page of the Unlimited Ball Bearings corporation. This in-depth guide will share all about structured data and schema usage in SEO.

You might have heard about structured data, Schema.org, and JSON-LD. But what do these terms mean exactly? What is schema.org? What do structures do? And what does it have to do with SEO?  For all of you who don’t know what structured data is.

What is structured data?

Structured data is code. It’s a piece of code that you can put on your website. It’s code in a specific format, written so that search engines understand it. Search engines read the code and use it to display search results in a particular way.

Imagine you have a website with a lot of recipes. If you add structured data to a page with a recipe, your result in the search engines will change. It will be much “richer” regarding the content that’s shown. That’s the reason we call these results rich snippets. This is what a rich snippet looks like:

Besides the title, the URL, and the search result description, you can see how long it will take to make the absolute best lasagna. And, you’ll see how many calories the lasagne contains. You must add structures to your web page to get such a rich snippet using the schema SEO guide.

There are all kinds of structured data. This is always a code format. Your online store has structured data for books, reviews, movies, and products. In all cases, structures add more details to your snippet in the search results.

We have to make one side note here. Unfortunately, Google does not always create a rich snippet of your page, even if you’ve added structured data. There are no guarantees. So all you can do is add it to your page and I hope Google will pick it up!

What do you do with structured data?

With structured data, you can “talk” to search engines. You can tell the search engines which ingredients there are in your recipe, you can tell them how long the preparation time is, and you can tell them how many calories the dish will contain. Google will be able to grasp all that information instantly and can decide to show it in the search results.

So this is a tool you can use to tell Google (in a way it understands what you’re saying) detailed information about a page on your website. Google will then be able to use this information to create informative (rich) search results. And audiences love these rich snippets!

Schema Markups Types

vegan cookies-low calorie rich result

The schema.org glossary includes formats for structuring data around people, places, and things on the web. The complete list of elements that Schema markup can define can be found on the Schema website.

Pattern tags are often used to indicate:

  • Reviews
  • Events
  • Articles
  • Products
  • People
  • Organizations
  • Local Businesses
  • Recipes
  • Medical conditions
  • FAQ

When these tags are added to your website, they allow search engines to understand what your website is about. Search engines can then present this information with rich snippets. So, a big help to guide on SEO using schema.

Types of Schema Markups

For example, here are the results for a page that implements event-pattern tagging – we can see the dates and locations of various events that have been tagged accordingly. Here is an example of a rating-rich snippet as a result of the schema:

Creative Works

Creative Works is a popular branch of pattern vocabulary, an awards library for creative content such as movies, books, video games, and music.

Here is an example of a result with the tag “movie”. Note that it includes movie-specific details such as rating, genre, and theatrical release date.

These tags can be implemented using a variety of coding languages ​​- including RDFa, Microdata, and JSON-LD.

What is schema.org?

The big search engines have developed a project called Schema.org. On Schema.org, you can find all the structured data markups supported by the search engines. This makes Schema.org an extensive collection of pieces of code that can guide on the site SEO.

You can use Schema.org to find the markup you need for your particular page. For instance, if you sell t-shirts on your site, you could show what color t-shirts you sell and what sizes you offer in your snippet. You should investigate Schema.org/Product and find out the possibilities.

On Schema.org, you can copy code examples. After copying it, you’ll have to adapt the code to your specific preferences.

Schema.org is a taxonomy of code formats that significant search engines understand. You’ll find examples of what the code looks like. There are other forms of structured data as well. For instance Open Graph (used by Facebook) and Twitter cards (used by Twitter).

What is JSON-LD?

What is JSON-LD?

JSON-LD is one of the markups of Schema.org. It’s just a way to write code. On Schema.org, you’ll also find other markups like Microdata or RDFa. At Yoast, we’ll advise you always to use JSON-LD because it does not break your site as quickly as other markups. You can – relatively easily – add JSON-LD to your website using Google Tag Manager. That’s not possible with the other markups.

Microdata

The microdata implementation is similar to RDFa, and its properties include the following:

  • itemscope – creates an item and indicates that the rest of the item contains information about it
  • itemtype – Describes items and properties with a valid vocabulary URL (eg “https://schema.org”)
  • itemprop – specifies a value containing a tag with a specific item property (eg itemprop=”name”)
  • itemid – the unique identifier for the specified item
  • itemref — Refers to item properties that are not within the scope of the item. This provides a list of item IDs and other properties elsewhere in the document

Resource Description Framework in Attributes – RDFa

RDFa properties include:

  • about — specifies the resource the metadata refers to
  • rel and rev – Indicate a relationship and reverse the connection with another resource
  • src, href, and resource – determine partner resources
  • content — override the element’s content when using the property attribute
  • datatype — limits the data type of text used with the property attribute
  • typeof — specifies the RDF type of the topic or partner resource

Why is structured data important for SEO?

Structured data is essential for SEO because it’ll make it easier for Google to grasp what your pages and your website are about. Google needs to find out what a page is about to show it in the search results. Using this is like talking to Google and telling Google what your site is about. That’ll help with your rankings.

On top of that, structured data will change how your snippet (your search results) looks. It’ll show more information to your customer. More specific information. And this will increase the likelihood a customer will click on your results. More clicks will eventually lead to even higher rankings!

How to use structured data?

Using structured data sounds complex, but everyone can do it (with the proper training). You have to get the correct code, you’ll have to adapt that code, and you’ll need to use Google Tag Manager to put it on your site.

We have already written many posts about Schema.org and JSON-LD, which will help you understand more about this subject.

No code hero? Use a plugin!

Many structured-data markups can also be added to your website using plugins. Our local SEO plugin, for instance, uses like this to show your store’s location or multiple locations. You don’t have to write code to get that rich snippet. You’ll just use our plugin, fill out some details, and we’ll do it for you. And many more plugins will help you use this technique without the need to struggle with any code!

Claudio Pires

Claudio Pires is the co-founder of Visualmodo, a renowned company in web development and design. With over 15 years of experience, Claudio has honed his skills in content creation, web development support, and senior web designer. A trilingual expert fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, he brings a global perspective to his work. Beyond his professional endeavors, Claudio is an active YouTuber, sharing his insights and expertise with a broader audience. Based in Brazil, Claudio continues to push the boundaries of web design and digital content, making him a pivotal figure in the industry.