Introduction to Schema Markup

Schema Structured Markup. What is it?

It is machine-readable information in the HTML code of the page that helps machines understand the information presented on the page.

The code is not visible to humans. It simply corroborates the information on the page that humans understand in a machine readable format.

Which machines appreciate Schema Structured Markup?

  1. Microsoft, Google and Yandex got together to create this standard. They are all 100% committed.
  2. Facebook, Apple, IBM, Amazon (the other major players you should be thinking about) directly or indirectly use it as a major step towards understanding your content.
So the answer is “everyone”

Do I need Schema Structured Markup if my pages are well written?

A human intuitively uses visual clues, skim reading and sees relationships between the information to understand a well-designed at a glance. Multiple confirmations of information in various forms increase their confidence that they have understood.

The page below is very clear in this respect and most people will understand at first glance (and be confident they have correctly understood as the important information is repeated in several places and formats).

Machines (however intelligent they are) do not have the capacity to understand a page of content in the same manner. They cannot make implicit connections in the same way that a human intuitively does. So they see something like this:

These intelligent machines will analyse your web pages and gain a very good understanding of what you are saying from your well-written content. But they will remain unsure.

However well written and presented your content may be, a machine will never be 100% confident they have understood unstructured content.

Schema Structured Markup is an incredible opportunity to ensure that these machines are 100% confident. Don’t let that opportunity pass you by.

Can I cheat the search engines with Schema Structured Markup ?

No.

Schema Structured Markup is a way to confirm to a machine that it has correctly understood the information you have provided to your users, it is not a good idea to try to cheat.

The structured content must correspond to and CONFIRM the unstructured (human) content. If not, the conflicting messages will simply make matters worse.

Schema Structured Markup is a way to confirm to a machine what it has already guessed. When you do that, you can be sure that the machine will be fully confident it has understood.

How do I use Schema Structured Markup for a company?

It is vital to add schema structured markup to your “About” page. As seen above, you are simply confirming to a machine that it has correctly understood who you are and what you offer. That seems marginal. But remember, Google (Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, IBM, Amazon et al) are machines. If there is one thing that machines love it is confirmation of information in structured language (their mother-tongue, if you like). There is no reason not to help hem.

In their language they want you to :

  1. Confirm your name, your address, your telephone number, your social media accounts.
  2. Identify what image, logo, description you want them to show when they mention you.
  3. Provide proof that you are who you say you are by providing third party confirmation in the “sameAs” field (Crunchbase, Wikipedia etc).

Here is an example of the code in their (Schema.org) language.

Here is what a machine “sees” (remember the jumble of words above?)

That makes sense from every perspective. Far from being marginal, Schema Structured Markup on your “About” page is vital.

Here is a great tool that automatically generates Schema Markup

Create Schema Structured Markup for your “About” page >>

Special note on “sameAs

This property is the key. A complete list of official pages for your company (social media pages, Wikidata and Wikipedia pages etc etc) both supports your claims and removes any ambiguity.

It is also vital that the information on these pages is coherent: use the same name, address and telephone number everywhere!


How do I use Schema Structured Markup for a person?

Within an industry in any given country company names tend to be unique so there is little ambiguity, markup or no markup. That makes it reasonably easy for a machine to understand who is who.

People are different. How many people share your name? For “Jason Barnard” the number is over 150. I am far from unique. Same for you and your boss. People’s names are, by nature, very very ambiguous.

When there are several hundreds of people who share your name, it is clear that a machine is going to be unsure who is who. “Person” markup is just as important as company markup. Perhaps more so.

Schema Structured Markup on “Profile” pages explains who each person in the company is and removes ambiguity. Vital.

Here is a great tool that automatically generates Schema Markup

Create Schema Structured Markup for your personal “Profile” page >>

Special note on “sameAs

As for companies, this property is the key. A complete list of relevant and official pages (social media pages, Wikidata and Wikipedia pages etc etc) both supports your claims and removes any ambiguity (and people’s names are inherently ambiguous).


Taking schema structured markup further

If you have the time, courage and patience to research, almost any idea / offer / entity can be communicated through Schema Structured Markup. Companies, people, products, applications events, films, artists, delivery information, opening times, prices, special offers… the list is very, very long. Think of something you want to say, Schema Structured Markup can probably allow you to explain it to a machine. 
Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Yandex and IBM are all desperate for you to provide your information using Schema Structured Markup.

To know what (and how) you can present in a structured format, the number #1 resource that you can trust is http://schema.org/

A great tool to test if your markup is acceptable is 
Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool


Structured markup — the foundation of your online marketing efforts

Your future visibility on Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, IBM, Yandex, Amazon requires that they are very confident they have understood who you are. Schema Structured Markup is the absolute minimum to make that happen.

Structured markup is the required foundation on which your future online marketing efforts depends.

Get started right now

Further reading

Here’s an article that takes this topic to a higher level for Company Markup>>

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