A Schema Markup Refresher
February 1, 2016
Schema is a term used frequently in today’s web development environment, but what is it? What does it do? Should I see a doctor about my schema? Let’s take a closer look into what schema is all about, and how websites can use it to their advantage.
What is this schema you speak of?
Wikipedia describes; “Schema specifies how to formally describe the elements in an Extensible Markup Language (XML) document. It is used by programmers to verify each piece of item content in a document.” Okay, but what does that mean? Basically, it is the code behind the scenes of a website that displays the content that you see. As we’ll get into later, schema also helps tell search engines how to view and classify the content on a website.
Until 2011, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft (Bing) were using different schema languages. In June of that year, they came together to agree on one common language: schema.org.
Great, they all agreed on one language, what does that mean?
By coming together to collaborate on one common language, means easier programming for web developers. Schema.org also supports rich snippets. Rich snippets are the information you see below a search result. If the search engines better understand your page, they can display search results for a site in a more attractive format. Site administrators are encouraged to take advantage of the common language, and help searchers and search engines alike better understand the information contained on a website.
That all sounds good, where do I begin?
Web developers, SEO specialists and business owners, can take advantage of a free tool available in Google Webmaster Tools called the Data Highlighter. “Data Highlighter is a webmaster tool for teaching Google about the pattern of structured data on your website.” This allows users to simply highlight categories of content on their website, and tell Google how to classify the information. Currently the Data Highlighter supports the following types of content:
- Local Businesses
- Software Applications
- TV Episodes
With the broad spectrum of categories above, site administrators are provided a wide array of ways to classify their site information, and should use it accordingly.