Schema.org: A New Step in Web Coding
When configuring and writing the code for your website, there are different ways to include content, even content that isn’t viewed by the visitors to the website. Many companies utilize special code to include information that may be pertinent to their SEO ranking, but not to their direct audience and demographic. This internal content helps search engines weed out what websites are legitimate and which ones are spamming.
When a search engine crawls your website to determine your SEO, it sees all of the content—internal and otherwise. While many search engines are not fail-proof when it comes to the crawling of internal content, three tech giants have come together to create a website and concept called schema.org for this very reason—to make internal content easier to crawl and more effective to your SEO.
Schema.org is the joint collaboration between Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft created for the sole purpose of improving the web by creating a structured data markup schema supported by most major search engines. By sharing schematics and markup vocabulary, schema.org is essentially making it easier for webmasters to decide on a markup schema to get maximum benefits for their SEO and microdata efforts.
Additionally, if you are already marking up your content indicative for rich snippits using microdata, schema.org works in a similar fashion, using the microdata markup format and vocabulary that is shared by search engines. This vocabulary will be multi-platform and support a wide variety of item types and properties. For a quick analysis on rich snippits, watch the video below:
Why use Schema?
Microdata can simply be described as additional HTML tags that you add into your web page that isn’t read by human audiences. Instead these tags contain language that addresses the search engine directly. By addressing the search engine directly, you can tell it, “Hey, this website has important information on it,” “This content is applicable and important to the search terms” and so on. Similarly, schema.org achieves this through their implementation of text hierarchy within the website’s coding.
This image taken from Schema’s website gives an example of text hierarchy.
By using microdata in your code, you are allowing yourself to label your content to describe a specific type of information in order to help search engines better recognize it while they are crawling your website. As noted above, by adding in the microdata that schema.org focuses on, you are accentuating specific aspects of your content which in turn will help boost your SEO above your competitors. Because schema.org and it’s utilization of microdata is relatively new, many companies are not using it on their sites yet, which will give you a distinct advantage over all other companies in your industry.
By using <div> tags, the schema markup allows itself to be embedded within your content, but not show up on your website, which keeps your content fresh and appealing to customers while your website is equally as appealing. An example of code that could be used by Hyperlinks Media would be:
The schema markup is displayed via <div> tags and isn’t displayed on the live version of the website. The <div> tags designate the information that applies to the chosen schema markup:
<span itemprop=”name”>Hyperlinks Media</span>
<div itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>
<span itemprop=”streetAddress”> 5150 Franz Road, Suite 100</span>
Phone: <span itemprop=”telephone”> 281-693-5372</span>
<a href=”http://googlemapsurl.com” itemprop=”maps”>URL of Map</a>
As written above, the only pieces of information that would show up on the Hyperlinks Media website would be lines of code that start with <span> while the lines that start with <div> are unseen by visitors and only viewable by crawling search engines and machines.
As you can see, none of the information with <div> before it appears on the page, while the information with <span> before it does.
Still in the Early Stages
Because schema.org is a new entity, there are still kinks in it, and aspects missing. For example, their markup types are not built to be extremely specific yet, so while you could add a mark-up type for “Movie,” there isn’t a specific type built for say “Scholar” or “TreeExtraction.” That doesn’t mean that you can’t find less specific words to use in your markups, but the more specific your markups become, the less likely they are to have been implemented or developed into the schema.org mainframe.
For those of you who are more ambitious and tech savvy, you can check out the schema.org extension system to create and define a new type specific to your needs.
With all of the constant changes in the technical industry, especially in regards to SEO, it’s no doubt that the partnership between Google, Microsoft and Yahoo that created schema.org will continue to improve and innovate the industry.
Schema.org is the first step in big things to come, so getting started early will help your company’s online presence and SEO grow more and more with each passing day. However because it’s still in its early stages, there are of course some kinks involved, though this shouldn’t hinder you from experimenting with this amazing new concept.