How to Boost Your SEO Campaign with Structured Snippets

Oct 21, 2014

While structured markup will not necessarily increase a website’s search engine rankings, there are other important SEO benefits of using schema markup that webmasters should be aware of.

Google is characteristically non-committal on structured markup’s future as a ranking factor, admitting only that “Google doesn’t use markup for ranking purposes at this time.” Whether that means the search giant will or won’t add schema markup to its search ranking algorithm at some point in the future is open to debate.

How to Boost Your SEO Campaign with Structured Snippets

What Is the Difference Between Structured Markup and Rich Snippets?
While many people use the terms “structured markup” and “rich snippets” interchangeably because they basically refer to the same thing, it’s important to understand the subtle differences between the two.

Structured markup refers to the schema.org-based HTML code that is added to a web page to allow the search engines to more accurately view and assess the nature of the content.

A rich snippet, on the other hand, refers to the text that appears in the search results that expresses the information pulled from that coded markup.

Even if you don’t mark up anything on your page, Google will sometimes independently extract connotations about your content from the page’s HTML code. Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool allows you to view the various types of structured data on a page that it is capable of recognizing.

How Structured Snippets Benefit Your SEO
A rich snippet helps attract the attention of search users by improving the appearance of your search listing, which in turn improves your overall click-through rate for that result. The higher the click-through rate, the more visitor traffic to your website.

Although Google has drastically cut back on its display of “rel=author” authorship markup information, in certain situations a rich snippet will be added to a listing that enhances its appearance by displaying information about the content’s author.

What is Schema and What Type of Content Does it Support?
Schema.org is a collaborative effort by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to improve the web with a structured data markup schema that helps the search engine community provide richer and more useful results for the user.

While not all content formats are presently supported by structured schema markup, new formats are constantly being reviewed and added. Some of the more commonly used structured data templates include

  • Video objects
  • Music pieces
  • Articles
  • Recipes
  • Reviews and ratings
  • Products
  • Events
  • Local search

Useful Tips to Avoid a Structured Markup Spam Penalty
Not surprisingly, some webmasters have already been slapped with a Google penalty for trying to game the system with spammy structured markup. These are manual penalties, so you’ll receive a notice in your Google Webmaster Tools account if Google finds problems with your schema markup. As with any manual penalty, you will need to remove the spammy markup and file a reconsideration request before Google lets you out of the penalty sandbox.

Use the Structure Data Testing Tool, accessible through your Google Webmaster Tools account, to check your pages for any structural markup issues.

Perhaps the best way to avoid problems is make sure that you are using the correct schema in the first place. An updated list of available format templates can be found on the schema.org website.