Chances are Schema markup will be a pretty foreign concept to you unless you are in digital marketing, but you most definitely have seen how it can manifest online.
I’ll demonstrate: I did a search in Google for a band I wanted to purchase tickets for, and right away I saw two examples of visible Schema markup.
1. Stubhub shows us a few dates, venues, and links to their events that the band is headlining for
2. Ticketmaster shows us an aggregate rating that the band has accumulated from fans
3. SeatGeek was kinda boring and didn’t show us anything we haven’t seen before
This visible schema is known as a Rich Snippet and does wonders for CTR. But even if the schema doesn’t result in a rich snippet, it still helps Google out in understanding what’s going on. Schema is a collection of tags that you can insert into a website’s html that help search engines recognize what any given object is on the site, whether it be an image or text. You can apply markup for blogs, recipes, jobs, movie showings, local businesses, image galleries, product ratings, and more.
As mentioned, schema markup (rich snippets) can lead to higher CTRs – by about 30%. But not only that, by looking at the top websites it also seems to help with higher rankings in the SERPs. However, only 0.3% of websites actually take the time to implement schema markup. That’s a huge amount of websites that are missing out on this SEO potential. We always make sure to add schema markup to all our client’s websites here at Bright Oak, but we wanted to take an extra glance to make sure we were doing ALL we could do. So come, follow us on our Schema Markup Journey to create the most awesome schema for: The Custom Homes Industry.
1. Apply Basic Local Business Markup
A good place to start using schema for any local business is with the address and contact information. First, you want to make sure to define your business with the most specific schema type. You can use the LocalBusiness type, but I’d suggest going further. For custom home builders, the closest is the GeneralContractor type. You’ll then want to apply markup to the name, website, company description, hours of operation, telephone, and address info like shown below.
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/GeneralContractor”>
<h1 itemprop=”name”>Alair Homes</h1>
<meta itemprop=”url” content=”http://www.alairhomes.ca/”/>
<p itemprop=”description”>Alair Homes is your premier custom home builder located throughout Canada</p>
<p>Open: <time itemprop=”openingHours” datetime=”Mo-Fr 07:00-23:00″>Monday-Friday 7am-11pm </time></p>
<p>Phone: <span itemprop=”telephone” content=”+16046058255″>(604) 605-8255</span></p>
<div itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>
<span itemprop=”streetAddress”>139 Drake Stree</span>
<span itemprop=”postalCode”>V6Z 2T8</span>
2. Add Some Local Business Extras
If you have an embedded map of where your business is located, add in the map property to it. Another great property to add in are your location coordinates. This one is often skipped over since you’d have to manually retrieve the lat and long, but it is a great way to solidify your location to search engines.
<meta itemprop=”map” content=”http://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/staticmap??key=AIzaSyCtqj5idsqL3uCxc775FEQg04aHwVs_zzA¢er=Alair+Homes+Nanaimo+1930 Island Diesel Way++BC+V9S 5W8&size=233×72″/>
<div itemprop=”geo” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/GeoCoordinates”>
<meta itemprop=”latitude” content=”40.7450605″ />
<meta itemprop=”longitude” content=”-73.98301879999997″ />
3. Markup Your Brand
Now for some brand stuff. Marking up your logo is a big yes-yes. This markup tells Google’s algorithms to show this image in preference over others, for example when shown on the Knowledge Graph. So if you were having problems showing up in the knowledge Graph before, this could potentially fix that! Another thing we wanted to do was make sure that our social media profiles were being associated with our business and website – this is where the sameAs property comes in. We just added the sameAs property to our linked social media icons and we were good to go.
<img itemprop=”logo” src=”http://www.alairhomes.ca/images/logo.png” />
<link itemprop=”sameAs” href=”https://www.facebook.com/AlairHomes”>
<link itemprop=”sameAs” href=”http://www.houzz.com/pro/ AlairHomes / “>
<link itemprop=”sameAs” href=”http://www.twitter.com/ AlairHomes / “>
4. Markup Your Employees
If you have an employee page or any sort of mention of an important person related to your business on your website, it would be a swell idea to mark those people up! Just use the Person type and markup their name, headshot, job title, phone number, and email. You should be breezing through these now, ay?
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Person”>
<span itemprop=”name”><strong>Lana Phillips</strong></span>
<img src=”lanaphillips.jpg” itemprop=”image” alt=”Photo of Lana Phillips”/>
<span itemprop=”jobTitle”> Home Renovation Specialist </span>
<span itemprop=”telephone”>(714) 914-0416</span>
5. Markup Your Image Gallery
Home builders of any sort tend to have big beautiful image galleries of their past work.
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/ImageGallery”>
<figure itemprop=”associatedMedia” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/ImageObject”>
<a href=”large-kitchen.jpg” itemprop=”contentUrl”>
<img src=”small-kitchen.jpg” itemprop=”thumbnail” alt=”Penthouse Renovation Kitchen” />
<span itemprop=”caption description”>
Penthouse Renovation Overlooking English Bay – Kitchen
<span itemprop=”copyrightHolder”>Photo: Alair</span>
< figure itemprop=”associatedMedia” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/ImageObject”>
<a href=”large-bathroom.jpg” itemprop=”contentUrl”>
<img src=”small-bathroom.jpg” itemprop=”thumbnail” alt=”Penthouse Renovation Bathroom” />
<span itemprop=”caption description”>
Penthouse Renovation Overlooking English Bay – Bathroom
<span itemprop=”copyrightHolder”>Photo: Alair</span>
6. Markup Your Projects
Ok, now we’re gonna step up our game. It is pretty common for our client to write up a blog post documenting their latest renovation or custom home build. By using the Article property along with a few others we have used in this case study, we are able to include a ton of extra info that we would not have been able to otherwise. First, by using the Article property we marked up the article itself by declaring the title, author info, and the body of content. Then we marked up the images using the ImageObject property. You can get as detailed as you want by adding image titles, descriptions, dates, or locations. At the end of it all, we added a nice little signature for Alair Homes using the Creator property and the GeneralContractor type, and then followed through with a few other properties that should look familiar to you by now.
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Article”>
<span itemprop=”name”>The Penthouse Renovation Overlooking English Bay</span>
By <span itemprop=”author” itemtype =”http://schema.org/Person”>Lana Philips</span>
<span itemprop=”articleBody”>We turned this outdated penthouse and turned it into a sleek…</span>
<div itemprop=”image” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/ImageObject”>
<img itemprop=”contentUrl” src=”http://alairhomes.ca/penthouse -renovation.jpg” alt=”Penthouse renovation”/>
<span itemprop=”description”>After the amazing wood spiral staircase was installed.</span>
Project finished on: <time itemprop=”dateCreated” datetime=”2015-04-28″>April 4, 2015</time>
<div itemprop=”contentLocation” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/City”>
Project Location: <span itemprop=”name”>Vancouver</span>
<div itemprop=”creator” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/GeneralContractor”>
By: <span itemprop=”name”>Alair Homes</span>
<link itemprop=”url” href=”http://www.alairhomes.ca/”>
<link itemprop=”sameAs” href=” https://plus.google.com/104827688298092013329/about “>
7. Test It All
The best way to make sure that the search engines are picking up what your putting down is with the Google Schema Testing Tool. Hopefully Google will tell you that it’s “all good”, which is always reassuring coming from Google.
If things are just too wonky to handle, it will be worth it for you to become more familiar with the main resource, Schema.org. It provides the most common types of schema markup, most of which provide coded examples at the bottom. Another thing to try out is the Google Structured Data Markup Helper. It enables you to plug in a website, and click on pieces to “virtually” create markup for it. It is pretty easy to use and admittedly kind of fun, but is also a little too restrictive because of the lack of available schema you can apply.
As you might have noticed, Schema can be a lot of extra work – it’s probably the sole reason why so few websites implement it. However, as SEO specialists it’s something we should all be taking advantage of. Schema.org even says, “the more content you mark up, the better.”
As you become more familiar with the vast array of available properties and item types, you start to recognize how much there is on your web page that you can mark up. We’re already aware of the goodness that Schema currently brings us in terms of rankings and CTR, but as the internet changes and evolves, it might even have a bigger impact than it does now.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization), or the process of helping your website show up higher in Google rankings is very complicated. Our SEO blog is going to be focussed on sharing our knowledge on the latest Google algorithm updates and overall SEO best practices for all types businesses.
While I may be making it sound like SEO is usually thought about in terms of marketing and sales, it actually has more of a practical application in our everyday life. We all use the Internet, most of us on a daily basis. Whether you are looking for an answer to a question, a website to purchase a product, or directions to a specific restaurant, you use a search engine to locate that pertinent information.
Search engine optimization has become a field crammed with myths and theories. Google rarely shares its secrets, so SEO professionals are required to develop their own best practices in order to rank in local search. Until recently, local ranking influences were just another Google enigma, but the search giant has at last revealed its secrets.
Google has recently been announcing new features to improve the overall quality of every Internet search. It started last month when they announced the mobile friendly Google algorithm, which gives all mobile friendly sites higher rankings in their searches in order to give every user the best experience.
Google has stated: "Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices."