Why is Schema a Headache?


Imagine yourself in a pharmacy looking for an Advil because you spent the last hour learning about Schema and now your head feels like it is exploding. You enter the store and are pleasantly surprised with the large size of this store; you are certain that you will find Advil here. With that thought in mind, you head towards the first aisle, but as you get closer you realize something very strange about this pharmacy. All the bottles on display are missing labels! With your severe headache, how will you be able to find the bottle that has Advil?

Truth be told, there is no way for you to find Advil here, unfortunately. You will most likely end up just leaving this pharmacy and finding another that has actual labels on the bottles.

Medicine bottled without label

This is exactly what happens when a search engine robot comes to crawl your website and doesn’t find any Schema. It ends up leaving without crawling because it did not find what it needed to understand your website. While you may have the best designers and content writers working on your website, any search engine crawler will not be able to complete the process because nothing on your website is labeled, like the pharmacy you just visited.

Schema is like label for all the pieces of content you have on your website. Just like a label on a bottle helps you identify what’s inside and enables you to decide to pick or skip a bottle, Schema helps search engine robot identify your name, address, phone number, images, content, etc.

Just like you left the pharmacy without finding what you needed, search engine robot may stop crawling your website and move on to a different site to find what they need. The biggest advantage of having Schema on your website is that it allows search engines to read and understand your website, which, in turn, allows them (search engines) to then include it (your website) in their index. This means they are then able to display your website in search engine result pages (SERPs) when a potential customer is looking for something that you offer but doesn’t already know about your business directly. For example, if you have a restaurant in Santa Clara that sells smoked salmon and there is a user online who is also in Santa Clara searching for a restaurant that sells smoked salmon, that person will be served your website if you have schema structured correctly on your site. This is an example search result for the search “smoked salmon near me”:

Search results for restaurants near me

When looked for schema on first restaurant that showed up in search results, this is what was found:

This restaurant has schema for each of the menu item they sell. Which allowed search engines to show this restaurant in search result because their structure data (schema) had it very well defined that they carry “Smoked Salmon”

To know what structure data your website has, I personally like to use Google’s structure data testing tool. Pasting a URL in this tool populates all schema that a web page has. This is how it looks like:

This tool can tell how many schema are there and if there are any error or warnings. Clicking any one gives all the details inside that schema. Let’s see what this website has:

With this kind of structured data, any search engine can understand what is the name of this business, address, operating hours, start rating, number of reviews received etc.

This was an attempt to explain what is schema to anyone like me, who is not an engineer. Hopefully, schema will not be a headache anymore.