Communicate with the search engines using Schema

Communicate with the search engines using Schema

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If communicating with the search engines was possible through a language, than definitely schema would have been that language.

Schema markup:

Let me explain what structured data is before I answer what schema markup is.
Simply speaking information formatted in a way that can be understood by every one and all over the world is called structure data. Regarding the web pages its makes the search engines able to tell what the pages are all about and what different elements they contain. This allows the search engines to come up with more productive, useful and up to date results of the queries.
Google, yahoo, Microsoft and Yandex have developed a markup vocabulary for structured data by the name of schema. The aim behind it was to develop a structured data that can be understood by all the search engines. It is used as a form of code that can be added to the web-page to identify and signal different things like images, date, and all other things.
The addition of structured data to the web-page gives it context and the web-page without the structured data means all information without any context.
It enables search engines to come out with different relevant parts of the web-page that too in the form of rich data and rich snippets which not only helps to make the result page loaded with more information but also increase the click through rate.
Review In Search
In spite of the above mentioned two advantageous factors only a small number of sites have actually gone for it. In 2014 a study conducted by Search-metrics found that less than 1 percent sites, 0.3% to be precise used Schema markup to mark up their pages. Since then the numbers haven’t showed any movement worth mentioning.
If you own a website or are a developer and you will like to get going with Schema markup but you haven’t figured out how and when, then you need to read the following part of this article. I am myself a new comer to Schema but I hope that I am able to explain it in a way that allows other newbies to understand it easily.

Working of Schema:

It marks the individual elements of a web-page which include pictures and names with a precise code that conveys to the search engine about the exact identity of the web page. Its working depends on what type of structured data markup you have chosen for your web-pages.
It seems as if it covers everything but it doesn’t cover everything that is featured on a web page by you. There are some things for which the vocabulary still doesn’t exist. But it is continuously being expanded and updated and if you are into it you can add it as extension as well.
The marking of web-pages with the structured data lets the search engine to read it easily and also it also understands the referring of the content.Let’s suppose you have a page about the James Cameroon film Avatar. To let the search engine know that it is a page about the film you can mark it up with the movie or film type. This will help the search engine categorize it as a movie and not an incarnation of Hindu deity or a profile picture.
As mentioned above structured data markup like Schema enables the rich snippets of Google and other rich data that appears in front of us in shape of search engine results like images, videos and recipes etc.
So its usage makes your web pages more interesting and attractive in search which results in the increase of click through and also the traffic from organic search.
Schema markup proves to be the difference between the results of your site or page looking like this containing information, nice, having an image plus a star rating:
Tiramisu And randomly generated result will look like this:
Tiramisu Now which of the two results will you go for? Definitely the first one. Above mentioned Search-metrics study pointed that pages that used Schema markup saw an upward rise of four positions. This upward rise is correlation and definitely not causation.
According to Search-metrics webmasters who are users of Schema are likely to be ahead of the competition against their rivals in a number of aspects, all of which add up to the increase in the ranking. Simply saying Schema is used to mark up sites by smart webmasters for the boost in ranking.
Below I am going to show you how three mark ups like Micro-data, RDFs and JSON-LD can be used with Schema. All three has had their pros and cons and it depends on you which to implement.

How web-pages are marked using Micro-data:


A set of tags that is introduced with HTML5 aiming to provide simple way of annotation of HTML elements with tags that are machine readable.
Micro-data are quite easy to use and good for the beginners to markup. The con of it is that each individual item has to be marked up within the body of web-page which really puts things in entanglement. On the other hand JSON-LD markup lets you confine most of the code to header.
Before commencing you need to decide how you web-page can be defined as. Like is a review, recipe, music or any event. The defining of the web-page determines what tag you put it up.
For instance you got a website of a restaurant known as noodle paradise then the home page of it may look like this:
schema div

Initially you need pinpoint a section of the page that is about the restaurant. It is everything between the two

tags. So at the top it is added as:
Schema By adding the above mentioned item scope tag it is being specified that…

block containing the HTML refers to a specific item. Which item is being referred? Now the item type attributes needs to be used so that it can specify the type of item about which the page is about like a restaurant.

Schema Code Item types are shown as URLs as in this case it is showed as But if the webpage was regarding a movie it would have been like this Although not everything is covered as I wrote above but you can browse and go through entire list of item types and extensions so that you can search the specific entity.

Coming back to the restaurant page what we want to tag is now that which part of the page contains the name of the restaurant between the tags. Now we need the item prop tag which labels the properties of the item.

itemprop Moving further we can tag the remaining page like this. When you are tagging properties of items there is no need to tag the full line as just a small bit will do the job of referring. If a line on the page says a phone number like 0987 6543210, all you need to do is putting the tags around the number:


You don’t need to worry or panic if this procedure looks difficult and complicated because each page on Schema for different types of items has examples on how to use them so the code can be seen in action.

Google’s structured data markup can also be used for convenient tagging of the web-pages. It can be used by just selecting the item type and pasting it in the URL of the page or the content which you are looking to mark up, and highlight it to tag the various elements.

Though it may seem a bit restrictive for example by choosing the type of restaurant may not give the option of marking up a destination. So if you want to tag specific items it may happen that you need to add them manually. Not all but few of them.


Google has a structured data testing tool which helps you test how you markup is working and is also going to find mistakes in the completed web-page.

How web-pages are marked using RDFa:-


It is an extension to HTML5 which is designed to assist you to mark up structured data. It stands for Resource Description Framework in Attributes and is a W3C recommendation which is to say a web standard. It may be used to combine various structured data vocabularies, if you are looking to add data that is beyond then what can be done with Schema.

RDFa is not that different if one knows the use of Micro-data markup with Schema. Just like Micro-data tags are integrated with the HTML that is existing in the body of the content. Consider the example of restaurant website Restaurant’s homepage HTML may look like this:


Firstly we want to satisfy that the vocabulary used is the Schema and web-page referred to is of a restaurant. By navigating to the page on Schema you can find how different elements can be tagged.

To identify the vocabulary for the markup vocab tag needs to be tagged with the URL In RDFa a typeof tag is used to define the page as compared to Micro-data where types were indicated using one or two words in place of URLs.


Now we have told the search engine that it is restaurant related page but the remaining elements of the page are not referring to. Now by using the property attributes we want to define those as properties. For instance we are going to tag the name of the restaurant by using the name tag like this:

noodle paradise

When you define the property more, the typeof attribute can be used. Address property can be further defined with the type postal address like this:


Item type and type of are approximately equivalent in Micro-data, whereas property and item prop attribute are equivalent. Lists and examples can easily be checked on to see which are defined as properties and which are defined as types. The rest of the restaurant homepage can be tagged like this:

address a

To help with the mark up every schema page for a specific property or item type like opening hours, restaurant, telephone has specific examples to show how it can be used. You can also spot errors in the codes using Google’s Data Structured testing tool. A W3C RDFa primer can also be used which focuses on vocabularies like Dublin Core but control-F can also be used to find the bits related to Schema.

How web-pages are marked using JSON-LD:

JSON-LD is used to encode linked data which is a way of publishing the structured data. It stands for JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data. It is W3C recommendation and was added to Schema in 2013 as recommended format.

Initially Google wasn’t sure whether to support JSON-LD or not as a format for Schema markup as it preferred the use of inline markup like Micro-data and RDFa where markup could easily be seen when applied to the individual elements. Now Google has accepted this format so much that it even recommends the developers to use JSON-LD for marking up their pages.

The benefits of using JSON-LD with Schema is that it limits a number of codes only to the page header which helps to keep the extra tags out of the body of content which makes the code easier to read.

JSON-LD notation is confined in the script block like this (). To show that JSON-LD is being used we input this line.

The JSON-LD code should be confined in the curly brackets known as curly braces, without which it may not be analyzed by search engines. In JavaScript it is called as object structure. The outline of the code looks like this:

noodle 3 With other forms of Schema the type of content that is marked up needs to be defined. In Micro-data it is equal to the item type attribute and in RDFa it is equivalent to typeopf attribute.

A simple restaurant site is used as our example so Restaurant would be the type of content.

Next we want to define the restaurant’s name and its description. If we were using an inline markup like Micro-data or RDFa to define these elements, they would need to be present on the website homepage itself. But another of the neat advantages of JSON-LD is that it allows you to define elements without them necessarily being present on the page.


Now we want the restaurant’s name and description to be defined. If the inline mark up like Micro-data or RDFa were to be used to define these elements, they would have to be present on the homepage of the website. Another benefit of JSON-LD is that permits the defining of elements without the elements to be present on the homepage.

schema2 Now we will define the opening hours of the restaurant. Now that we got two different sets of timings on the website – one is from Monday to Saturday and the other is for Sunday – these will be put in two different lines inside the square brackets.

The opening times are from 12pm to 9:30 pm from Mon to Sat and 1pm to 8 pm on sun. Week days are specified in two letter combinations like (Mo, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat and Sun) and timings should be written with 24-hour clock.


In the end we need to add the phone number and URL for menu. The number should be written as continuous string of numerical which should also contain area code:

noodle 4

At the end the finished markup looks like this:

restaurant 1

As mentioned earlier, Google Developers have some good resources to use: JSON-LD with, including an Introduction to Structured Data which uses JSON-LD as its example format. Portent’s JSON-LD Implementation Guide is another useful point of reference. Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool can also be used to check syntax for errors.

Other uses for Schema:

Other than being used to mark up web-pages, markup can be added to emails in order to trigger Google Now cards, add actions and appear in users’ Search Results – Google Developer has some good tutorials and videos to which show how to do this.

Pinterest also uses metadata in formats like and Open Graph to form rich pins, which feature more information and give Pinners a richer experience and increasing engagement. You can find out how to get started with Rich Pins using guide provided here.

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