en
English Español Deutsch Français Italiano Português (Brasil) Русский 中文 日本語
Submit post
Go to Blog

Taking Your Schema from Developer Led to Marketing Led

66
Wow-Score
The Wow-Score shows how engaging a blog post is. It is calculated based on the correlation between users’ active reading time, their scrolling speed and the article’s length.

Taking Your Schema from Developer Led to Marketing Led

Sarah Carling
Taking Your Schema from Developer Led to Marketing Led

I have been talking with a lot of companies recently, and when I ask about their schema, they tell me something along the lines of “We heard we had to have it so we told our developer and they set it up." This is great, simply to have schema puts you a step ahead of much of the competition, but at the same time, it concerns me. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a knock on developers, but it is not their job to be focused on Google's results and the sales that it generates.

Are SEOs to Blame? 

We as SEOs have been just as complicit in this situation, many have allowed developers to take the lead, suggesting nothing more detailed than, “We need schema; can you add it?” It is easy to see why. There is no direct benefit for your rankings in the main SERPS (though John Mueller has suggested that there is an impact on relevancy) and it is hard to see what is going on in the rich results for both clients and competitors. This isn’t data we can see in analytics; search console provides nothing more than a high-level number. I love the data that SEMrush provides in this area, but even then I need to know the right keywords. If I have a rich result for something entirely unexpected, chances are I will never know it.

Schema is Complicated

To make matters worse, schema is complicated. I am pretty sure when I first started working with it, I was cross-eyed for a week just from confusion. It is not hard to see why it has been neglected when it is hard to learn, even harder to make sense of, and we don’t get that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you see your traffic and sales go up. However, the complexity shouldn’t deter you from getting involved and managing your schema; the benefits of doing so can be huge.

We all know that websites need schema now, and getting your company name and address in there should be relatively straightforward (I will concede that if that is all you want to do with schema, hand it off to a developer and don’t let it trouble you further). There are about a thousand tools that can get you that far with almost no effort at all, but that is only half the story.

You want to make sure that you are providing data on everything you can.

Creating detailed schema can help give signals to the search engines regarding nuances of your product and service that the search engines may not otherwise be able to correctly identify. Google themselves say, “By adding structured data markup to your site, you can enable more of your site’s functional and visual elements to appear directly in results and in Knowledge Graph cards.” I don’t know about you, but I want some of that!

Schema is one of those things where the devil is in the detail, and it is not something you can just skip over or set and forget. Every morsel of information that you can provide to the search engines increases your chance of getting into those rich results. I lovingly think of it as structured keyword stuffing because now we have a way to directly tell the search engines what we want people to know. 

What to Do and Not to Do

Start thinking of all those keywords that could influence a click or purchase decision, and figure out what markup you need to be creating to communicate that. But, for the love of Pete, don’t start adding things that aren’t relevant to your business, and don’t do what one site I looked at did and create a 250-word description within the schema markup. It is not 1996, and these aren’t meta keyword tags, so just stop before you get any ideas about spamming. You don't want a penalty.

Taking a Bigger Role

OK, so you are probably not going to go out and learn programming to do your own schema, but you do need to be able to communicate the right things to the developers. When I am responsible for communication with devs, I like to provide a detailed list that links back to schema.org so that there is absolutely no confusion with the development team. I would suggest, if you are struggling with schema, that you forget about the hierarchies and formatting and list what you want to say and on which pages you want it said. Think of it as a wireframe for your development team to build your schema around.

A Schema Example

Let’s use the example of a skincare company. They are currently using schema on their site and have the following information:

Taking Your Schema from Developer Led to Marketing Led. Image 0

The first thing I notice here is that they are missing a lot of useful company information. Even if they are an online only brand, they have a headquarters with an address, they have customer service agents that customers can contact, and I would also add their brand name in there too.

Where to Start With Schema: Basics that Bring Results

When I am creating schema for a client, I start with a review of the things their customers want to know most. These are the same things that people often qualify their searches with, so we want to make sure that Google is aware that we are relevant to those items. We forget, as marketers, that what is obvious to us, may not be obvious to someone else. I can’t count the number of times I have seen extensive product or service listings, but no address or opening hours! Think through all of the actions that someone is trying to take on the site and add them to your schema.

We forget, as marketers, that what is obvious to us, may not be obvious to someone else.

Once I have the basics covered, I might look at some of the more product specific elements from schema. Making use of the makesoffer schema, I would add in the details of each product listed on the page, and it's stock status. I would also try and add reviews for the product, but those are just the elements I know off the top of my head. I like to spend some time poking around at schema.org because often there is something there that is very specific to the business I am looking at. For instance, you may be able to add in an award the business or product had received; for some, adding in Parent organization may be impactful.

Once I have created my list of ideas, it is relatively simple to create a map for the developers. Usually, mine looks something like this:

Taking Your Schema from Developer Led to Marketing Led. Image 1

The Long Haul

Schema is here to stay, and it is only going to get bigger. My goal is that the only time my clients will need to change their schema is when their business changes or new elements are added. When everyone else is scrambling because Google added a new feature and a previously unimportant schema is required, you and I will be the ones sitting back and watching our clients rise to the top because we took the time and effort to get it right the first time.

Sarah Carling
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

I've been working as an SEO for 15 years and running Marketing Nomads for the past 8. We specialize in technical SEO and data analysis to help businesses make fact based decisions about their online marketing.
Share this post
or

Comments

2000
Moin Shaikh
Helper

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

With Google giving more prominence to Schema in their SERP, it is obvious to see more and more websites implement them in the coming days; however, I'm wondering how many SEOs/Webmasters/Devs. can actually implement them correctly without spoiling the original intent of the Schema.

Not to forget the penalty part -- knowingly or unknowingly, there are cases Schemas being exploited. Take for example FAQs vs QA pages Schemas -- Google has already emphasized not to mistake one for another but I am sure there will be cases with one being interchanged with another, either deliberately or un-deliberately!
Sarah Carling
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Moin Shaikh
You are absolutely right, although I'm not convinced that our jobs as SEO's is to do everything Google tells us...That's not to say you should go all dark side and become the world's greatest spammer, but innovation rarely comes from following all the rules.
John Rampton
Pro

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

Sarah Carling
I completely agree. Sometimes, we have to be rebels.
Simar Bhalla
Newcomer

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Hi Sarah, very nice article about Schema and its benefits.
Really appreciate the blog. Wow!
Kristen Vaughn
Helper

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

Awesome post, and i love the quote!

"We forget, as marketers, that what is obvious to us, may not be obvious to someone else."

This is something I've come to realize is super important, especially when working with partners whethers its the dev team, PR folks, etc.

Great advice here, thank you.
Pro

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

Schema is complicated but once you understand how to use it, you can use it to improve your search rankings, and it is here to stay surely.
Nick Samuel
Pro

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

Hi Sarah, nice timely article about Schema, Quick question if I may, how do you go about ensuring schema is always up to date or dynamically updated? I'm Trying to understand as many approaches as possible here as more and more businesses want Schema. Cheers!
Sarah Carling
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Nick Samuel
Hi Nick, in most of the cases where I have had a client need dynamic insertion and updates, we have worked with their developer to create a custom solution specific to their needs. For smaller clients who don't have that resource, I haven't tested it, but I would expect most plugins to automatically update the data that they dynamically create. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any way to dynamically update schema that were not initially automated (though some plugins may have bulk upload resources which could help streamline the process too).
Himasnh Fashion
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

sometimes it takes time to understand
Paul Lovell
Master

A veteran community member.

Hi Sarah
thanks for sharing this,
quick question do you see any benefit from combining all schema on one page into a single script in a graph element, as i know there is a lot of chat about this atm.
Editors' Pick
Sarah Carling
Expert

Provides valuable insights and adds depth to the conversation.

Paul Lovell
Editors' Pick
Hi Paul, Whether you combine your schema or not really depends on the relationship between elements. I like to think of it like a good old fashioned newspaper. They would start with a headline (top level of your schema) then they would user sub headings (nesting) to further define the content. But when the article changes, they go back to using a H1 (our new script). Most of the time I will nest into a single script because I don't often find that there are completely unrelated elements on a page (though it does happen) and I want to make sure that I am determining the relationship between items.
Igor Kholkin
Enthusiast

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Sarah Carling
I think there's something to be said about the fact that it's "markup". Some things can be consolidated, others belong on specific sections as additional helpful info.

Send feedback

Your feedback must contain at least 3 words (10 characters).

We will only use this email to respond to you on your feedback. Privacy Policy

Thank you for your feedback!