Schema is a way of encoding information that’s easy for the search engines to understand.
Why is schema important?
Humans have an advantage over computers- yes, it’s true. They do a better job interpreting data they’re presented with.
For example, when you see three digits separated by a hyphen followed by three more digits and another hyphen only to be followed by four more digits (987-654-3210) you might identify that as a phone number. Even if these digits were separated by a period or if the first three digits are surrounded by parenthesis, you’d still be able to figure it out. Computers, like the Google search engine spider, might have a harder time knowing what those digits represent.
It becomes even more complicated by context. Even if a computer knows that numbers, formatted like this, are for a phone it doesn’t know to whom the phone number is supposed to reach. Humans have an easier time with this.
That’s why a human invented schema. This is a way of adding code to your website, so computers (like Google) can understand what these numbers mean and why it should care about them. There are several types of schema that Google is considering– and you should to.
What should you expect after adding schema?
If you add valid schema to your website, Google might reward you in several ways:
- With a better understanding of your website, they might serve you to more relevant customers.
- Sometimes Google will change the way your webpage is displayed in the search results, based on your schema. This helps you stand-out against your competitors in the SERPs (and possibly get more clicks.
However, schema is a relatively new technology for Google. They’re constantly changing the way they use schema- and which schemas they’re interested in seeing from websites. You may add schema to your site, only to find Google ignores it. In some cases, Google only shows schema to users from highly respected websites- although they won’t say which are respected or give criteria to become respected.
Another problem with Google and schema is that they’re always changing the rules. For a while, they recommended people add review schema to sites. As a results, some pages had star-ratings displayed in the search results. As you can imagine, many people abused this phenomenon so Google suddenly removed it. That hurt the people who were trying to do it genuinely and honestly.
The worst problem with Google and schema, however, is Google’s trend to steal content from websites and embed it on the search results- sometimes without attribution. This means you’ve given Google your information and they keep the visitor (and customer) on their page. Yes, that’s right: one of the biggest companies in the world is stealing content from their customers. Sigh. Sometimes we have a love-hate relationship with Google.
Despite all this, some forms of schema are worth the effort. In fact, some are so easy to add that it’s a shame not to add them.