Why Now is the Perfect Time to Implement Schema Markup

  • June 13, 2024
  • SEO
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There has never been a more opportune moment for organizations to prioritize the implementation of Schema Markup.

You might wonder why this is so crucial right now.

To begin with, Schema Markup, also known as structured data, is not a new concept.

Google has been rewarding websites that incorporate structured data with rich results. If your site has yet to leverage rich results in search, now is the ideal time to do so to benefit from higher click-through rates through these enhanced search features.

Moreover, as artificial intelligence increasingly drives search engines, assisting search engines in understanding your content has become more essential than ever.

Schema Markup provides a clear framework for your organization to communicate what your content means and how it is interconnected with other elements on your website.

Finally, correctly implementing Schema Markup allows you to build a content knowledge graph – a crucial asset in the era of generative AI. Let’s delve deeper into this topic.

Schema Markup for Rich Results

Since its introduction in 2011, Schema.org has provided a standardized vocabulary, created through the collaboration of Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex, to help website owners make their content understandable to search engines.

Google encourages the use of Schema Markup by granting rich results to eligible content marked up with specific tags. These rich results can significantly boost the click-through rates of websites from the search engine results pages.

Schema Markup is one of the most well-documented SEO strategies recommended directly by Google. Unlike other SEO practices that are often deduced through observation, Schema Markup is straightforward and highly advised.

You might have postponed implementing Schema Markup due to a perceived lack of applicable rich results for your site. While this might have been an issue in the past, the number of available rich results has grown considerably since I started working with Schema Markup in 2013.

Even though Google decommissioned how-to rich results and modified FAQ rich result eligibility in August 2023, it introduced six new rich results shortly after – the highest number of new rich results launched in a single year!

New rich results include vehicle listing, course information, profile page, discussion forums, organizations, vacation rentals, and product variants.

There are now 35 rich results available that span across various industries including healthcare, finance, and technology.

Below are several rich results that you should consider incorporating:

  • Breadcrumb
  • Product
  • Reviews
  • JobPosting
  • Video
  • Profile Page
  • Organization

With such diverse opportunities to enhance your visibility in search results, it is surprising that more websites have yet to adopt Schema Markup. According to Web Data Commons’ October 2023 Extractions Report, only 50% of web pages contain structured data.

For pages with JSON-LD markup, the following primary entities were identified:

  • http://schema.org/ListItem (2,341,592,788 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/ImageObject (1,429,942,067 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/Organization (907,701,098 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/BreadcrumbList (817,464,472 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/WebSite (712,198,821 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/WebPage (691,208,528 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/Offer (623,956,111 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/SearchAction (614,892,152 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/Person (582,460,344 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/EntryPoint (502,883,892 Entities)

(Source: October 2023 Web Data Commons Report)

Most of these entities are directly related to the previously mentioned rich results. For example, ListItem and BreadcrumbList are necessary for the Breadcrumb Rich Result, SearchAction is needed for Sitelink Search Box, and Offer is required for the Product Rich Result.

This information indicates that most websites are using Schema Markup primarily to attain rich results.

Although these Schema.org types can help your site achieve rich results and enhance visibility, they don’t always provide a detailed understanding of what each page is about, reducing the overall semantic value of your site.

Helping AI Search Engines Understand Your Content

You may have noticed your competitors using specific Schema.org Types not listed in Google’s structured data documentation (e.g. MedicalClinic, IndividualPhysician, Service, etc.).

Schema.org offers a comprehensive vocabulary with over 800 types and properties to help define your web content. However, Google’s structured data features only necessitate a subset of these properties to qualify for rich results.

Websites that implement Schema Markup exclusively for rich results tend to have less descriptive Schema Markup.

AI search engines now emphasize the meaning and intent of your content to deliver more relevant search outcomes.

As a result, organizations aiming to stay competitive should adopt more specific Schema.org types and use suitable properties to aid search engines in better comprehending and contextualizing their content. You can be detailed with your Schema Markup while still qualifying for rich results.

For instance, each type (e.g. Article, Person) in the Schema.org vocabulary has 40 or more properties to describe the entity.

These properties allow you to intricately define what the page is about and how it is connected to other elements on your website and the web. Essentially, it encourages you to semantically describe the entity or topic of the page.

The term ‘semantic’ relates to understanding the meaning of language.

It’s worth noting that ‘understanding’ is part of its definition. Interestingly, in October 2023, John Mueller from Google released a Search Update video, where he prominently discussed Schema Markup as “a code you can add to your web pages, which search engines can use to better understand the content.”

Historically, Mueller has spoken about Schema Markup in the context of rich result eligibility, but this shift emphasizes its role in enhancing search engine understanding.

This change reflects the growing importance of making content easily interpretable by search engines as AI continues to play a vital role in search technology.

Harness the Power of AI by Shaping Your Data with Schema Markup

If being better understood and standing out in search results isn’t motivation enough, consider this: implementing Schema Markup also helps your enterprise take command of your content and prepares it for artificial intelligence.

In February 2024, Gartner released a report titled “30 Emerging Technologies That Will Guide Your Business Decisions,” highlighting generative AI and knowledge graphs as essential technologies to invest in over the next 0-1 years.

Fortunately, by using Schema Markup to define and connect the entities on your website, you are effectively creating a content knowledge graph for your organization.

This not only positions your organization advantageously for generative AI but also provides the multitude of SEO benefits that come with it.

To learn more about building content knowledge graphs, read my article, Extending Your Schema Markup From Rich Results to Knowledge Graphs.

Additionally, observing insights from other experts in the knowledge graph domain underscores the urgency of implementing Schema Markup.

For instance, Tony Seale, Knowledge Graph Architect at UBS in the UK, stated in a LinkedIn post:

“AI does not need to happen to you; organizations can shape AI by shaping their data.

It is a choice: We can allow all data to be absorbed into huge ‘data gravity wells’ or we can create a network of networks, each of us connecting and consolidating our data.”

The “networks of networks” Seale refers to is the concept of knowledge graphs – the same knowledge graph that can be built from your web data using semantic Schema Markup.

The era of AI is just beginning, and there is no better time than now to start shaping your data using your web content, by implementing Schema Markup.

Utilize Schema Markup as a Catalyst for AI

In today’s digital age, organizations must invest in new technologies to remain competitive alongside the evolution of AI and search.

Whether your aim is to stand out on search engine results pages (SERP) or to ensure your content is comprehended as intended by Google and other search engines, the time to implement Schema Markup is now.

Through Schema Markup, SEO professionals can become key players, facilitating generative AI adoption via content knowledge graphs while delivering significant benefits such as increased click-through rates and enhanced search visibility.

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