Webinar: How to Supercharge Your SEO Strategy With Schema Markup

In this interview, Martha van Berkel, co-founder and CEO of Schema App, joins Nizam Uddin, Crowd Content’s Head of Growth, to explain how structured data can boost your SEO. Before starting Schema App with her husband, Mark van Berkel, Martha worked at Cisco for 14 years. The pair built Schema App to generate and deploy sophisticated SEO schema markup at scale while measuring ROI.

Martha van Berkel: When Google reads your SEO schema markup, it understands the relationships between your content. It can then infer things to answer the searcher’s intent. I’ll teach you a little bit about how you can start doing that within your own content.

The search engine result page has evolved significantly and continues to change. What I like about structured data is that it gives you an element of control over how you show up on these pages or Google My Business. This is where I’m really passionate; you have so little control over your search engine results, so I love that there’s a lever you can use to control your brand.

What is Schema Markup?

Schema markup is a type of structured data (or code) that is derived from the Schema.org vocabulary, designed to help search engines understand the content of web pages more effectively.

Consider it a universal language for search engines, just like how English, French, or Spanish serves as a means of communication among people. Schema.org itself is not owned by any single entity; rather, it’s the product of a collective effort aimed at adapting and expanding the vocabulary of web’s content.

Martha van Berkel: Structured data is an SEO strategy that helps Google understand your content and how it relates to other content on your site. It also helps you stand out in search results. I’ll use both the terms structured data and schema markup interchangeably — within the SEO space, they’re the same thing. (If you have a technical background, you might know that data can be structured in HTML, table constructor, or an SQL database.)

At Schema App, we tend to use “schema markup.” It’s more specific and can’t be misconstrued with other things.

For example, over the last couple of years, the community has invested in the health side of schema markup to help describe vaccines and other new developments.

In 2019, Google requested that website owners use structured data to help Google understand content. Three or four years ago, we were talking about using schema markup for voice search. Now, we’re talking about discovery on all surfaces, including smart homes, cars, and voice assistants.

How Can You Use SEO Schema Markup?

Martha van Berkel: Structured data is a way of taking control of your brand to help it show up in rich results, like carousels, featured snippets, or other prominent placements on the SERP. Some of the documented types of rich results include:

  • Books – enhance the visibility by presenting detailed information directly in search
  • Breadcrumb – improves user navigation and SEO for e-commerce sites and content-rich platforms
  • Carousels – useful for news sites, e-commerce, and portfolios, as it highlights multiple products or articles
  • Local business – helps in discovery and decision-making by showing key information in search
  • Jobs – help qualified candidates by presenting a clear, detailed job information in search 
  • Events – promote awareness and attendance and help potential attendees to discover events
  • Speakable – caters to voice search and provides content in audio form which helps with accessibility and user engagement
  • Software apps – help software developers and app marketplaces improve discoverability and download rates by showcasing detailed app information and ratings
  • Recipes – boost visibility by presenting rich, detailed recipe information that entices users to click through to their site
Image showing a Google search results page with book covers for marketing books.

We’re going to explore which of these apply to your business and your website. We’ll also identify the ones with the highest ROI to help you achieve your goals. These rich results show up beautifully in the search engine results — they’re hard evidence you can use to make a business case.

Some of my favorite options for businesses are:

  • Products: This markup is a common option for physical and digital products
  • Video: Structured data helps users find your video and get them to watch it.
  • How-to: If your business tries to get people to self-serve, how-to is a great way to help customers find the right support documentation.

Benefits of schema markup

Is it worth the time to add structured data to your site? Well, it can improve your click-through rate (CTR). A study by Milestone Internet found that the average CTR for rich results is 58% compared to 41% for text results. 

However, one of the biggest reasons for implementing schema markup is its semantic value. The search landscape is ever-changing, and generative AI search is now playing a more significant role. Schema markup helps your site better communicate with search engines and large language models, removing ambiguities as to the meaning of your content.

Here are some examples of how schema markup acts as a guide to search engines and helps provide explicit clues about the meaning of a page and its content:

  1. Schema markup clarifies the context of ambiguous words to search engines. For instance, whether “Apple” refers to the fruit or the technology company.
  2. It enables search engines to identify and categorize people, places, and products within content so that it’s easier for AI systems to index information accurately.
  3. Schema markup highlights the connections between entities. For example, it can show that a certain recipe is associated with a particular chef, which enhances the richness of search results.
  4. With schema markup, content is optimized for voice search to improve responses from voice-activated assistants.
  5. It readies content for multimodal searches involving a combination of text, voice, and images so that content can be discovered and understood.

Examples of SEO schema markup in action

When you use schema markup, you’re labeling parts of your website to explain the meaning of specific pieces of content. Google then uses this information to deliver more relevant and useful search results. 

Below are some examples of how SEO schema markup enhances your online visibility.

Image of Google search results for flower shops in Austin with shop names and brief descriptions.

In this Google result for Austin florists, two local businesses occupy the top organic spots. The rich results include images to capture user attention and extra links to entice users to visit. Searchers can go directly to birthday or sympathy arrangements, for example, instead of navigating through the entire site. 

Image showing Google search results for Apple AirPods 3rd generation with product listings from Walmart, Costco, and Target.

Schema markup is also used to enhance product listings in the SERPs. These snippets include images, prices, ratings, the number of reviewers, and inventory information so searchers can see key details right in the search results. 

Is structured data important to Google?

Martha van Berkel: In April of 2022, Google’s Search Off the Record podcast did an episode on structured data. Ryan Levering, a software engineer at Google, joined the hosts. They talked about how structured data gives control to the user. Of course, they need to give you a reason to do it — that’s why they have rich results.

A few key points from the podcast:

  • How Google uses structured data: Google consumes structured data to produce rich results, but also to understand topics. Google’s machine learning can understand only so much of the page. When they need help or clarity, they’ll sometimes go to the structured data for more information.
  • Structured data should align with the content on the page: The podcast noted that it’s not a great idea to set up structured data manually and then forget about it. That’s because of schema markup drift — where the structured data doesn’t actually represent what’s on the page. A better option is to do it programmatically, as we do at Schema App.
  • Future plans: Eventually, Google will use structured data across the entire Google experience. In other words, it’s not going away, so now is a great time to get started.

Google 2023 Updates Affecting Rich Results

Google is constantly refining how it presents search results. Since this webinar was recorded, the search engine announced it was reducing the visibility of some rich results. For example, Google will only display FAQ rich snippets for authoritative government and health websites.

Martha referenced FAQs in her presentation further below, but the examples are still relevant to help understand the process of implementing SEO schema markup. And, as mentioned earlier, there are additional benefits to using structured data beyond the SERPs, such as providing semantic value for search engines.

Using Structured Data to Boost Your SEO and Content Strategy

Martha van Berkel: The SEO schema markup process starts with strategy:

  • Determining what you should optimize 
  • Creating the JSON-LD, a process we call “authoring”
  • Deploying and maintaining structured data on your website
  • Reporting and analytics, which helps you measure the value

For this discussion, my primary goal is to ensure you understand the strategy. Where should you start? What are the types of things that you should optimize? How do you measure that outcome?

Creating an SEO schema markup strategy

Martha van Berkel: When it comes to structured data strategy, I like to start with your business goals and the key content in your customer journey.

  • What are the key pieces of content you want customers to discover? If you run a healthcare organization, you might want patients to find your physicians, services, or hospital locations. In a technology business, it could be your products or support documentation. Or, if you’re trying to solve problems for a specific industry, you might want to make white papers easier to find.
  • What content do your customers need to find to help achieve your business goals? Are you trying to grow a specific area of your business? Where is that business represented on our website?
  • What do you sell? You might sell services, digital products, or physical products.

Example of a structured data strategy

Martha van Berkel: Let’s look at how I would break down our strategy for Schema App. I’d start by looking at our company’s key content pieces: who we are, our solutions, and our products. We also have case studies and blogs to establish thought leadership and support that help customers maximize the value of our product.

Key ConceptsWhat is it?Where is it on the website?
CompanyOrganization www.schemapp.com
Case studiesArticle/sap-case-study//customer-success-story-advent-health//customer-success-story-keen-footwear/

Next, I’d figure out what each piece of content is in terms of the Schema.org vocabulary. What’s my company? Well, the company’s an organization. What’s my solution? It’s a set of Products. Case studies and support pieces are Articles, and blogs are BlogPostings.

As you’re learning this vocabulary, try visiting Schema.org. Search for different types of content, being as specific as possible. For example, if you offer services, try searching for the type of service.

Then, figure out where each piece of content is located on the website. Where is the product listed? If it’s mentioned on multiple pages, which will Google show in search results?

For each major key content piece, have a primary page that talks about the specific topic. That way, Google knows exactly where to go. This is particularly important when it comes to your products and services.

Do you need a primary page for each topic?

Nizam Uddin: I’ve seen website owners who have multiple pages for services add SEO schema markup on all pages, hoping that Google will pick one. That seems like a guessing game. Is it not the right solution? Should you focus on one and go from there?

Martha van Berkel: There’s some debate about this. For example, you should only have an organization markup on some pages, so Google has to figure out what actually talks about your organization. We won’t go into detail, but this can be addressed with something called “nesting.” This is a more sophisticated structured data strategy: you use the schema markup to explain precisely what’s on the page, and then you can nest in information about the organization publishing the page to define that relationship.

In the Google podcast about structured data, host John Mueller discussed having one type of content on the page. I agree — the key is ensuring each page is about one thing. Then, you can add multiple content types within that structured data.

For example, if you have a page about a service, multi-type it with both service and product structured data. That makes you eligible for multiple rich results.

SEO Schema Markup and Rich Results

Martha van Berkel: The next step is to determine if you can get a rich result for any of these pieces of content. This is important because when investing in SEO, you need a measurable outcome. Ideally, you’d find at least one type of rich result for each page.

You can also use structured data to inform your content strategy. When you write content, you’re probably trying to rank for a specific keyword or answer a customer’s question. As you start to add SEO schema markup, it’s important to keep that intent — but also, think about how you can capitalize on rich-result opportunities to stand out in search.

Your goal is to build content specifically for the desired outcome. At Schema App, we do this as part of our sales process. I listed the rich results we could get on different types of content. Then, we added corresponding elements to each page as we built it. The product page has a FAQ section, and case studies often have videos.

Key ConceptsWhat is it?Where is it on the website?Rich Result
Case studiesArticle/sap-case-study//customer-success-story-advent-health//customer-success-story-keen-footwear/Article, video
BlogsBlogPosting/blog/Article, video, how-to, FAQ
SupportArticlehttps://support.schemaapp.com/supportArticle, Q&A

You’ll notice that I’ve marked “not applicable” on the company page. That’s because home pages don’t typically get rich results. However, it’s still important to have structured data to help Google understand your organization.

Let’s look at an example. A physician is a local business, but they can also get customer ratings — a different rich result. Individual physician pages could include a rating, rating count, and an FAQ that explains the person’s biography and areas of specialization. This makes the page eligible for more rich results, which helps it stand out in searches.

What schema markup do you need to get rich results?

Martha van Berkel: Once you have a rich result in mind, go back to Google’s documentation and identify the required and recommended properties. These elements must be in the structured data code.

If you want to add an FAQ, go to the markup requirements for FAQs. It says you need a question and an answer. For the question, you have to nest an accepted answer and a name; then, the answer has to have a text.

Make sure all the content in your structured data code is visible on the page. In other words, you can’t just add the structured data code and hope to get the rich result. This is true for all types of structured data.

The required and recommended documentation also explains how to nest each property. For example, every Question instance must be contained within the mainEntity property array of the schema.org/FAQPage.

Schema App can help build the code so it’s beautifully nested to help you get rich results. I’ll also share some other tools and free generators later so you can give it a try.

Every content type has different requirements. When it comes to things like events, you’ll also need a date, start time, and location.

Getting familiar with what content needs to be on the page is important. Once the content is there, adding the structured data and getting the rich result later is easier.

Implementing FAQ Schema Markup

Martha van Berkel: FAQs are easy to produce, and you probably already have a lot of content that answers your customers’ questions. Start with these questions:

  • What are the top questions your salespeople get?
  • What are the questions your administrators are getting when customers call into your office?
  • What questions do you get through support channels?

In terms of scalability, your CMS may also have an FAQ module that makes it easy to add and structure the content.

People have often asked if FAQs lead to a zero click-through rate. Rand Fishkin did some really important studies about this in 2019. The answer? It depends. We’re seeing customers get a 17% click-through rate when an FAQ is appropriate — if it’s something that’s answering the question. You can compose your answers to take users to that next step of the journey; put a link in your answer that takes them to more information about that specific thing.

You can also measure the interaction with the FAQ through the impressions. That allows you to understand that people are interacting with your content.

They say 80% of the buyer journey happens before a customer contacts you. So, if you’re answering customers’ questions and helping them learn the information they need to buy from you, an FAQ is actually helping them progress through the buying cycle.

Nizam Uddin: This is a good branding play because it increases visibility. You don’t want your competitors to take that spot. It’s a win-win; you’re not losing anything.

Martha van Berkel: Absolutely. Think of those long-tail keywords for areas that you specialize in. They build awareness of who you are and what you do for people early in the buyer journey. I also like to think of it as a way to delight your customers — you’re not making them scour through your website to get specific answers.

Think about writing content not just for the person landing on the page but also for the person searching for your business.

Testing Your Eligibility for Rich Results

Martha van Berkel: Hopefully, I’ve got you thinking about the key elements of your pages, where they live on your website, and which rich results you want to try to get. Then, you can go back and see if you need to add additional content to the page.

Let’s look at a few tools that can help you make sure the content is ready:

  • Rich result testing tool: This tool is produced by Google; it tells you if your page meets the criteria for the rich results in the Google documentation. You can just enter the URL of your page, and the tool will tell you if you’re eligible for anything.
  • Schema.org validator: If you just want to see what structured data exists on the page, put a URL into the validator on Schema.org.

These are two ways to understand 1) if you’re eligible for a rich result and 2) if there’s structured data on the page. You don’t need to be able to read code to use them.

The rich result testing tool can tell you if your key content pieces are ready for structured data. If a page is not eligible yet, the tool can help you identify the required and recommended properties you need to add. When you start to add structured data, use the validator to spot errors.

Measuring the Success of Your SEO Schema Markup

Martha van Berkel: How can you measure the success of structured data? Start with Google Search Console; there are two places to look.

  • Performance reports: Review the performance and click the Search Appearance tab. You’ll see a list of different types of search appearances. Web Light results and good page experience are not affected by structured data. Instead, look at what we discussed earlier: video, FAQs, reviews, and products. You can see exactly how many clicks or impressions you achieve from each rich result type. This is a great way to see how structured data impacts your SEO goals.
  • Enhancement reports: These reports allow you to see how many valid instances there are of certain structured content types. If you’re adding a FAQ section to 16 industry pages, you’d be able to come in under FAQ and expect to see 16 valid instances. It also lets you identify errors and warnings to determine what’s missing. Then, you can investigate that to figure out how to fix it to ensure you get the best performance.

In summary, you want to connect your SEO schema markup to tell a story. You want to explain the important things in your organization and help them stand out in search.

Pro tip: Regularly monitoring your Google Search Console reports ensures early detection of issues, optimizes performance, and keeps you aligned with the latest SEO best practices for sustained site visibility and user engagement.

Structured Data Case Studies

Martha van Berkel: Let’s talk a little bit about case studies and ROI. SAP is one of our customers. When working with Schema App and structured data, they wanted two things:

  • Agility: We had to figure out a way to help an organization that’s very large move very quickly to add structured data. We were able to deploy markup to more than four million pages over seven websites in our first three months.
  • Growth: SAP saw a 400% net growth of organic rich result traffic after adding schema markup.
  • When looking at the return on investment, it’s easy to correlate structured data with traffic growth. We’ll look at that in Google Search Console later.

Another benefit of structured data is owning the SERP and controlling how your brand shows up. That’s what happened with our client, Advent Health. They were changing from Adventist Health System to Advent Health, so we used structured data to inform Google of the brand and name change. There are properties within the Organization markup that you can use to articulate how the brand is changing.

While rebranding, Advent Health switched to a new CMS and built a content strategy. We identified the important content and how they wanted it to stand out. Then, we strategized with them to plan the content. We achieved rich results from the get-go as soon as it went live. It’s a great example of how to mitigate the risk of a drop in organic clicks due to a rebrand and a new CMS — we were able to build new results out of rich results.

SEO Schema Markup Resources

Martha van Berkel: Structured data is a complicated area of SEO. To learn more, check out Google’s structured data documentation. There are also some videos that explain different topics.

At Schema App, we also have two free resources. We have a free five-day email course; you get an email five days in a row that walks you through a high-level explanation of structured markup.

If you want to get nerdy and learn from the best, my co-founder recorded an Advanced Structured Data Bootcamp. It talks you through all the semantics, how things relate, important properties, and structured data for key areas. Please feel free to use it — it’s about four hours of content that we’re happy to share.

About Schema App

Martha van Berkel: Schema App is an end-to-end schema markup solution that works with all websites and all content to build robust connected schema markup without an IT developer. Our goal is to help you get results with expert support.

We know this is a complicated area, so we want you to execute strategies and measure clicks. We work with customers across different industries; we want to empower your digital teams to take control of how you show up in search. Moreover, we want to help you do it at scale and with agility.

I love the speed element — when Google announces a new feature, we’ll turn it around for our customers and help them figure out what content is eligible right away. Then, we get it marked up. In less than a month, everything’s done, and you don’t have to think or stress about it. We can do that because we start with strategy.

What I shared with you today is the process we take our customers through. As you consider working with us, you know our goal is to understand your business goals and the content you need customers to find. Then, we’ll build that strategy and implement the authoring. To complete the integration, we’ll power it with customer success to help you ensure it’s complete and measurable. As your business and goals evolve, we work with you to ensure that technology and services focus on ROI.

Integrating Schema App with your website

Martha van Berkel: Everything is set up in our application in the cloud, and we offer different ways to integrate. Some options include Drupal, Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe DTM, and Google Tag Manager. We have a Shopify plugin and a WordPress plugin. No matter the platform, everything is built so that we can deploy structured data at scale with sophisticated markup.

We offer two markup tools:

  • Editor: Markup unique pages one by one
  • Highlighter: Markup one page and deploy the markup to all similar pages

For example, if Crowd Content is building you new content that uses the same template or is organized the same way, we know exactly what rich result you’re trying to achieve. Every time you publish, it’s automatically optimized.

Image featuring an app store page for Schema App Total Schema Markup, highlighting its benefits and pricing.

Nizam Uddin: Schema App is useful if you don’t want to do schema markup on your own, but I think scaling structured data is the most challenging part. If you’re producing similar content and adding the schema markup manually to those individual pages, it’s a nightmare. I recommend having a partner like Schema App because it’s a templated solution you can scale. It’s easy to manage and make changes, which is helpful when Google changes things. Doing it manually, you have to go through every page.

Martha van Berkel: If you’re just getting started, there are also free resources out there. Yoast has good general blog post schema markup; and so does our free Schema App plugin. It offers sophisticated schema markup but doesn’t get into the services, products, and FAQs. However, it’s a great starting point. Another good generator is located on Merkle’s technical SEO page. It allows you to do some simple schema markup, so it’s useful for an SMB or a very small website. You can copy and paste the JSON-LD.

We also have Schema App Pro for SMBs; it generates structured data and includes email support. It integrates with most major platforms and is a great place to start. Our strength, however, is our high-touch support and strategy work.

We’re proud of the customers we work with and happy to have the opportunity to help many global brands be understood and visible in search results.

If you want to know more, you can find a ton of webinars, articles, blogs, and videos on our social platforms:

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SEO Schema Markup: Wrapping Up

Using structured data to demonstrate authority

Nizam Uddin: What are your recommendations for websites that produce EEAT content?

Martha van Berkel: Within structured data, you can use structured data to provide specific information about the author and their qualifications.

For a physician, you could specify their educational background, area of practice, publications, and the hospitals that they work for. When Google sees these, it builds expertise and authority.

The same goes for authors. Who is the author? What do we know about them? You can start using Schema.org properties to define them. Let’s say you’re an expert in a particular area. Google knows what the page is about, and you can use Wikipedia or Google Knowledge Graph to define precisely what that practice or specialty is.

Again, this is where it’s helpful to understand Schema.org and the properties you can use to define people’s expertise clearly.

Hiding structured data code

Nizam Uddin: Is there a way you can hide structured data codes from competitors?

Martha van Berkel: No, there’s not a way to do that now. However, in the Google podcast, Ryan Levering talked about a possible future state where you would publish structured data directly to Google. That’s interesting because it removes the challenge of integrating the code into your website.

Reviewing and maintaining schema markup

Nizam Uddin: How often should someone audit their website for structured data?

Martha van Berkel: You should look at it regularly, at least every quarter. You should evaluate your performance monthly and try to maintain good health. In general, it’s a good idea to keep structured data, ensure that it represents the content on your page, and build your content to ensure it has the required and recommended properties.

Sometimes, errors aren’t a problem — if you have a product-rich result without a price or a job posting without a salary, that could be a business choice.

Future-proofing schema markup

Nizam Uddin: How do we future-proof schema markup?

Martha van Berkel: It’s helpful to think of it as future-proofing your content strategy. You’re constantly learning, and Google continues to change the rules. As long as you’re evolving your content strategy and ensuring your content meets your user’s needs. It’s also important to measure which rich results and content are working and converting and evolve accordingly.

With SEO schema markup, future-proofing is making a plan to maintain it and educate yourself.

Support Your SEO Schema Markup With Outstanding Content

Structured data works hand-in-hand with your content, helping search engines understand your website better and connect you to your audience. Find out how Crowd Content can support your content creation, helping you to create effective web pages that appear in the SERPs, engage readers, and drive conversions.