What Is Schema Markup and Why Is It Critical to Wedding Business?

Still unconvinced by the power of Schema Markup, structured data, and rich results for wedding businesses? Lets do a deep dive case study…

Today, when searching for information about a business, you are very likely to get your answer within the search results. Whether you’re looking for the phone number for your wedding photographer, the weather in Scarborough, or information about best wedding venues in Dorset, you search, and “bam!”, there’s the answer, without you needing to even click through to a website.

Searchers are interacting with the data about our businesses and not our websites. In essence, we’ve lost control of our brand to Google. See what I mean below…

 York Place Studios Phone Number Rich Result

Weather in Scarborough Rich Result

Weddings Search Rich Result

If this is the case (and it is!) it begs the question: “why are you investing hours on your website design, graphics, and blogs?”

The fact is, less traffic is coming to your site. The traffic is staying within the search and social experience, and searchers are using your business data rather than visiting your websites. You need to take control of your business, and how it is being understood by search engines. How? It’s simple; you have to talk to the search engines in their language. The language that search engines speak is called ‘Schema Markup’.


What is Schema Markup? What is Structured Data?

Schema Markup, also known as structured data (and sometimes structured data markup), is the language of search engines. The vocabulary, officially called schema.org, was created by Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex in 2011 as a global standard vocabulary to help them better understand content on the web. It’s quite brilliant when you think about it: the search engines created a language to help them explicitly understand web content, and then put the burden on us to adopt it, to help them do their jobs better! Thats Google over and over for you!

To translate your content into Schema Markup you have to answer the question, “What is this page about?” Once you know what the page is about, you can pick a Schema Markup class (think of this as a definition), and describe it using a standard group of properties. Once you have all this information mapped out, you need to put it into Schema Markup code.

Schema Markup code comes in a variety of formats: Microdata, JSON-LD, and RDFa.


Schema Markup and Structured Data Code Types

For an overview of Schema Markup types, take a look at this list directly from Google.

These days, Google prefers the markup in JSON-LD. Here’s a JSON-LD schema example (click the image to zoom in):

You shouldn’t worry about reading and writing the code; there are a lot of tools available to help businesses do Schema Markup without writing code.


Rich Results Are Here to Stay

Businesses who adopt Schema Markup get rewarded with what are known as ‘rich results’ (previously known as rich snippets or rich cards) in search. These rich results range from product information and ratings to local business information, actions, information panels on the right-hand side of the screen, and more.


Specifically for Local Businesses, Google has created Local Business Listings and Place Actions. The Local Business listing is very similar to Google My Business (GMB) listing information, and the Place Action lets the user reserve, or order directly, from search results. It’s interesting to note that since they released this feature in Schema Markup, Google has added the ability to enter appointment type information in Google My Business. We’ll see how it evolves, and where Google wants you to manage this information – on a page or in GMB.  Note: These features today are with a limited group of initial providers.

Local Business Listing

Google Place Listing

Google’s features resulting from adopting Schema Markup have been accelerating. In 2017, we saw 10+ new announced features, and countless more that have never been officially announced, such as health information graphs and best answers. In addition to new features, we also saw 50+ updates to Google documentation and Schema.org vocabulary.

Top 10 Dorset Wedding Venues – Featured snippets in Search

Because of the speed at which we see new features released, we can make assumptions that Schema Markup was a strategic SEO strategy that Google was continuing to invest in as a way to help them understand Businesses. Google’s entire “search documentation” is on structured data!

At PubCon in November 2017, Google’s Gary Illyes spent quite a lot of time talking about Schema Markup, particularly stressing the importance of using it on websites. He said:

“Structured data is one of those things that I want you to pay lots of attention to this year.”

Why? He went on to share how Google has recently “launched a bunch of search features that are based on structured data”.

These most recent new Schema Markup types include, but are not limited to, new features for:

What is most exciting is that Gary then stated that Google is likely going to start “building lots of new features that rely on structured data.”

It looks like Google cares a lot about Schema Markup and structured Data, which makes sense, because it allows them to explicitly understand what content is about, helping them serve their searchers better, and ensure they are giving a quality answer.

He even went as far as to say that:

“If you want your sites to appear in search features, implement structured data.”

For a long time, there has been a lot of discussion about whether Google is using Schema Markup for indexing and ranking. As it turns out, they are. Gary Illyes confirmed it during PubCon, as documented here by Jennifer Slegg from SEMPOST.

But don’t take my word for it; take it from Gary Illyes:

“[Add] structured data to your pages because, during indexing, we will be able to better understand what your site is about. And don’t just think about the structured data that we documented on developers.google.com. Think about any schema.org schema that you could use on your pages. It will help us understand your pages better, and indirectly, it leads to better ranks.”


Schema Markup Results in Higher Quality Traffic

Gary Ilyes stated that Google is using Schema Markup for ranking, as it makes their job easier. Last year, in a session called “How to Stand Out in Search with Structured Data” at Google IO, they shared several case studies. The case studies they shared from international brands illustrated the metrics as a result of implementing schema markup.

Here’s a sample of the case studies that show how Schema Markup and rich results help increase engagement and clicks online. The numbers are compelling:

  • 25% higher click-through rate on pages with markup (Rotten Tomatoes)
  • 35% increase in visits for recipes with markup  (Food Network)
  • 1.5% more time spent on pages and 3.6x higher interaction rate (Rakuten)
  • 82% higher click-through rate for rich result pages (Nestle Faz Ben)
  • 20% more clicks for pages with Schema Markup (La Fourchette)

So it’s clear: Schema Markup improves your SEO and business metrics. If that’s not enough to motivate you to optimize your site with Schema Markup, maybe the fact that Schema Markup is the foundation for informing voice search and Personal Assistants will…


Your New Sales Team: Voice Search & Personal Assistants

According to ComScore, by 2020 50% of all searches will be voice searches. Think that 2020 is really far away, so you don’t have to worry about it? Think again.

The number of devices used to make voice searches is exploding. A year ago we may not have believed that our kids would be asking Google Home, “What does a Flamingo sound like?” during breakfast, but that is now my reality.

How many of your friends and family got Alexa or Google Home for Christmas? Research says that Google has sold 7+ Million Google Home Devices and Amazon close to 21 million, all in the last year. These new devices only add to the existing Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant installs on our phones. Assistants are here, and they’re growing fast.

And this is just the beginning. Earlier this month Google announced that they would be partnering with Altec Lansing, Anker Innovations, Bang & Olufsen, Braven, iHome, JBL, Jensen, LG, Lenovo, Klipsch, Knit Audio, Memorex, RIVA Audio, SōLIS, and Sony. These new devices will be voice and Assistant-enabled and will include a smart screen.


What Does This Mean for Local SEO?

It means that, whether we like it or not, we have to start optimizing for Assistants as well as search engines. In addition to losing control of our brand because Google is providing answers in search (like the weather, and phone numbers), now Assistants will be “answering” questions and guiding customers through their day, while never browsing a web page.

Google published a short video showing a “day in the life” with Google Assistants. In 2 minutes they show how our day can be transformed by being informed and guided by an Assistant. Examples include guidance to a first appointment, advice on what to make for dinner, from anywhere, while never clicking on a business website.


So How Do You Take Control?

Good news! If you add Schema Markup to your website, Google will automatically make the marked-up information “searchable” by Assistants, resulting in your customers being able to search your content through voice as well as new visitors being able to reach you through Answer Boxes. What a great way to engage your customers and be “voice ready” with no additional effort (since you are already doing schema for SEO purposes)! Today, Google Assistant supports actions for News, Recipes, and Podcasts, but many, many more are clearly on their way.

How do you make your business show up through this new voice medium? Start by creating relevant content that answers the questions your customers are asking. What are the most common questions you get from your customers today?  Once you have this content created and published to your website, add Schema Markup to them! The schema.org vocabulary includes markup for almost all types of content.


Q&A Schema Markup

Question and Answer schema markup is perfect for FAQ pages. You can define the questions with Question markup, define what the question is about (your business, product, etc.), and then link it to the answer with Answer Markup.

The stakes are high for these machines to get the answer right since they only give one answer, so make sure they know you are an expert and can guide them to the right answer.

Another actionable step you can take to figure out what your customers are asking these assistants is to look at the long-tail keywords in Google Search Console. You will start to see keywords showing up for How? When? Can? or other human-phrased or ‘natural language’ questions. This is a great place to start for content creation and Schema Markup!


Chatbots Use Your Schema Too

Chatbots were a hot topic in 2017, and continue to be on the minds of marketing teams in 2018. Everyone wants to be able to say they have sexy AI on their site, so let’s break this down:

Chatbots answer questions for users, based on the information that they can derive from the business. To figure out information about the business, they need to understand common questions and answers, key entities (things) defined on the site, and how they relate.

Sound familiar? Yes, chatbots need to understand your business and content, just like Google. What does Google do to understand web content? It reads Schema Markup. Like search engines, chatbots need to understand information on a page, so that they can find the answers for the interactions on their site. Schema Markup can serve as a foundational knowledge graph for chatbots, so when you optimize your site for organic search, you can also be taking one step towards enabling your marketing team’s dream chatbot.


2018 is the Year of Schema Markup

2018 is the year of Schema Markup. Google, Personal Assistants, and chatbots use it to understand your business and this resulting in more clicks, higher quality traffic, and the benefit of being understood. Now is the time to get started, so that your brand and website are ready for the explosion of machines that want to understand your business and send you more customers.


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How to Get Started with Schema Markup

Schema Markup is critical to being understood in 2018 and beyond.  Follow the link to find out more:

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