Why Schema Might be the Next BIG Ranking Factor

Schema
Schema is the new way of Google, Yahoo and Bing to sort the whole internet out. It is a system that will make it easier for their search engines to identify what a site, or even a paragraph, is all about. So now that we know, the question to ask yourself is, how will Schema affect SEO?

A Different Kind of Code

One thing you need to know about Schema is that it isn’t something like Meta Tags. It’s much different from that. Schema codes are inserted into div tags and h1 tags and span tags. The way the Schema code is integrated is such that the whole HTML code will not be affected. Very nice.

Search is becoming more and more complex as humanity, technology, lifestyle and everything about our world becomes more complex. There are now more things and more categories than ever before. Schema is just a tool to help search engines know which page falls under which category. It is merely a helping hand for the big three search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing. You can read all about their take on Schema here:

Google: Introducing Schema.org: Search engines come together for a richer web

Bing: Introducing Schema.org: Bing, Google and Yahoo Unite to Build the Web of Objects

Yahoo: Introducing Schema.org: A Collaboration on Structured Data

In Simple Terms

Schema is just a small piece of code added to your HTML that indicates to search engines what a certain page or paragraph is all about. There’s nothing magical about it. Google, Yahoo and Bing are using it to further enhance the artificial intelligence of their search engine.

The Schema code

<div itemscope itemtype =http://schema.org/CreativeWork>
  <h1 itemprop="about"> Why Schema Might be the
Next BIG Ranking Factor</h1>
  <div itemprop="author" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Person">
  Author: <span itemprop="name">Sean Si</span>
(born <span itemprop="birthDate">September 6, 1988)</span>
  </div>
  <span itemprop="genre">SEO</span>
  <span itemprop="keywords">Schema, SEO, Ranking Factor</a>
</div>

In your browser, this code would look like this:

Why Schema Might be the Next BIG Ranking Factor

Author: Sean Si (born September 6, 1988)

SEO
Schema, SEO, Ranking Factor

Do you understand it?

It’s a bit technical, I know. So let me break it down for you:

Itemscope is a shortcode for specifying what kind of an item you are discussing about. It usually comes with the itemtype shortcode which is for tagging your page/entry as to what it is about instead of the search engines depending on the number and placement of your keywords. In this example, I used the itemtype CreativeWork because my blog entry falls under that category.

Itemprop is a shortcode for identifying the properties of that which you have specified an itemtype for. For example in this code, I identified what the properties of itemtype CreativeWork is about using the itemprop=”about”. In english, I’m telling the search engine that the Page is about CreativeWork and it’s about Why Schema might be the Next BIG Ranking Factor.

You could see several itemprop codes inside this short set of words because I tried to specify the properties all of the itemtypes as much as I could. I figured this might make a positive impact on search engines. The more specific, the better. It’s also more work. You can have as much itemscope, itemtypes and itemprops as you deem necessary as you could see – I have 2 itemscopes, 2 itemtypes, and 5 itemprops.

Schema Documentation

Schema

You can check out the complete documentations by Schema.org here:

Getting Started with Schema

Different types of Schemas

Schema FAQs

Schema Data Model

Schema Discussion Group

Disadvantages

As you’ve already guessed, the downside about Schema code is that it is very tasking to install and implement in all your pages. Unless you have only a handful of pages. Take this website for example – SEO Hacker. I have numerous pages in this whole site and implementing Schema code in each will take me hours and hours.

I won’t be implementing Schema on every page – just on the ones that I would like to test on. After all, there is no real solid proof yet that Schema-embedded sites do rank higher than those which are not.

Another disadvantage of Schema is that it cannot be implemented in a WordPress post – this is because WordPress automatically deletes HTML codes that it doesn’t recognize. You can put it inside your template editor though. For example, if you’re using Thesis theme, you can put it inside using your Thesis Hook plugin.

So how will Schema Affect SEO?

Right now we can only make so many guesses and projections. But as of today there is no real evidence that Schema has helped the ranking of some websites which have embedded the Schema code.

But my mindset and take on this is that if you have it and if Google, Yahoo and Bing says they give a damn about it, then why not try it out? After all, the internet is a fast-feedback loop platform where you can do trial and error as you please.

Tips for keeps: Implement the Schema code in one or two pages in your website where you want customers/readers to land. See how it affects your rankings.

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Comments

  1. Paul Flyer says

    Sean,

    On the surface this seems to me to be a way to resurrect and reinvent the “meta keywords” tag.

    Isn’t this subject to the same kind of abuse? Won’t webmasters be using the itemprop=”keywords” on lines where they list their Post’s tags and then stuffing the tags?

    What will prevent someone from lying using itemprop=”genre” just because they see a niche that is relatively non-competitive yet they want their article to be seen in that category.

    itemprop=”about” seems redundant. Have we not already accepted the unwritten rule that an H1 tag tells us what a page is about already?

    While it’s intent was different, there was a movement about 5 years ago called Structured Blogging. If I remember correctly the goal of Sturctured Blogging was to create a set of tags on the code so that a blog posts elements could be easily identified. Sttructured Blogging died a quick death. It was way too burdensome.

    The only way something like schema.org will work is if in fact, those elements were truly part of the HTML code (meaning the elements were actualy CODE that did something other then a mere label). That would ensure people would use them. If we think people will start using it to improve rankings, the abuse factors are so great that it will quickly become irrelevant.

    What do you think?

    • Sean says

      Hey Paul,
      I had the same questions as yours in mind. And yes even Schema is too tedious to be honest. It also doesn’t work on WordPress post – which makes it even more of an adversary than a friend. Anyhow it’s still in the early development and testing phase so let’s give it a bit more time. You can join the bandwagon of those who are giving it a shot as young as it is. And hey, what’s there to lose right? Perhaps one or two pages with Schema codes just to test the waters should do you good in assessing it.

  2. Anand Singh says

    i find that this will affect the ranking factor as it indicate & help the search engine to roughly identify your website.
    i had a question, have u implemented schema code in your any web page, Is there any changes in SERP ?
    thanks for giving such an imp. info.

  3. Gael says

    I like that Schema is taking a more important place in the way websites rank (this will help prevent spammy sites from making their way to the top for a little time since most of them have no idea what these are and most automated ways to generates websites do not integrate schema yet.

    Now we’re just missing a more comprehensive/more fun than the official guide, actually this would probably be a good link bait idea :-)

    Gael

  4. Linda Caplinger says

    “After all, there is no real solid proof yet that Schema-embedded sites do rank higher than those which are not.”

    Even Google says that it won’t help you rank higher but that it will likely help CTR. If CTR rise, then a page’s relevancy for that KW will rise…and page position MIGHT rise because of this. But it’s in no way a straight shot to increased page position.

    Linda

      • Nils Hyoma says

        If you have good content its a positive vicious circle.
        Google shows the link to your site highlighted -> Better clickrate -> More visitors -> ins case of good conten -> More visitos posting links to your site -> Better ranking.

  5. Linda Caplinger says

    Yes, but still no guarantees with anything Google related.

    BTW: Have you implemented actual schema tagging? Mine validates but it’s not showing in the SERPs. Considering trying one of the older formats.

    • Sean says

      Right. I personally have not implemented it due to the difficulty of doing so within WordPress. As soon as WordPress recognizes Schema codes then I think I will get into it.

  6. Veerender says

    As it effects CTR, it definitely helps in Search Engine Rankings.But when you say it does not support word press, we can assume that it will not effect SE positions..

    • Sean says

      It does support wordpress but there is currently no plugin to make things easier. And sooner or later, it just might affect SE rankings :)

  7. Sergei says

    Good post! Thank for this early, but necessary warning.

    Things are going to be changed. I cannot wait to implement Schema in couple pages too.

    However, I want to add some concerns about Schema initiative (Google, Bing and Yahoo). This initiative creates a distance from W3C as standards holder body. W3C develops already several years’ Semantic Web technology, which is similar to Schema (XML plus DOM as a basis). I am afraid that Schema initiative may serve as a platform for future market monopoly, while Semantic Web of W3C is an open standard. Thank you.

  8. Krystian Szastok says

    It’s quite easy to implement if you’re using a cms and have access to any kind of a half decent developer.

  9. Anz says

    I am using a wordpress plugin, Schema Creator by Raven.
    One Problem is that it makes a box on the page and jacks up my formatting structure. Because of this I’ll have to move my schema code to the bottom of the page if I include it. .. Needs improvements like menu options for images and video….

  10. Charles Lloyd says

    Hey Sean, I just saw your tweet (I follow you on Twitter) about 35 minutes ago. I can see the article is dated a bit and I’m hoping you can update your opinion of Schema as an SEO strategy. Since you implemented the code on some of your test pages, did you see any noteworthy SEO benefits? Any other case studies you can mention as it pertains to schema and SEO?

    • Sean says

      Hi Charles,
      Right now just to update you, Schema works a lot for review websites. I’ve removed the test code from my site for a while now and I haven’t really kept the data so I have none to show you. However the effects for review sites range from rich snippets in the SERP, to video snippets, etc. It’s more for CTR now – that’s what happened.

  11. Kevin Wiles says

    Great article. I for one think SCHEMA will become a ranking factor. Why? well why else would Google push it go heavily? Why would they advise you and provide a section in web master tools. I think it will become a common practice for good seo’ers to know all about SCHEMA

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