If you consider the most straightforward answer to the question that the title of this article asks, “Is schema markup a ranking factor for SEO or not?” The simple answer is NO. At least not right now.
Several Google experts, including Google’s John Mueller, have previously confirmed that structured data markup (of which schema markup is just one example) isn’t used in Google Rankings.
The primary aim of adding structured data is to help crawlers better understand the purpose of your content so that they can index and rank them for relevant search queries.
Schema.org is the community that handles website schema markup data.
Like every coin has a flip side, it cannot be a mere coincidence that schema.org was formed just a year before Google’s Knowledge Graph (A massive database of entities and relationships between them), which uses schema markup as its primary source of data.
So, let’s do a post-mortem to find a sort of correct answer to the question, “Is Schema a ranking factor?”.
What Is Schema Markup?
Schema markup is a microdata that enhances the description of a web page to the search engines to help them better understand the relevancy and purpose of the content.
A to-the-point snippet schema markup also encourages Google to consider the content for ranking in search results as featured snippets.
Why Is Structured Data Markup Important?
Structured data markup plays an essential role in improving SEO and search engine visibility in the following ways,
Helps Google Algorithms To Better Understand And Index Your Web Pages
Google finds it easier to understand structured markup data than semi-structured or unstructured data you would ordinarily use.
The evidence of this is Google’s continued support for increasing data formats to accommodate greater adoption of widely used RDF (resource description Frameworks) syntaxes.
For example, in 2009, Google announced support for RDFa and Microformats, while more recently, in 2015, Google announced support for JSON-LD. Furthermore, Google encourages web users to use these data formats.
Therefore, currently, according to Google, “data in the schema.org vocabulary can be embedded in an HTML page using three alternative formats; RDFa, Microformats, and JSON-LD.
However, Google was using structured markup data way before introducing schema.org in the form of structured XML data.
Even now, if you submit a malformed or poorly coded XML sitemap, it will get rejected, or it will not be crawled correctly.
Therefore, from the above examples, providing structured markup data in line with Webmaster Quality Guidelines and Structured Data Policies to Google will benefit your search engine visibility.
Imposes A Structure On Your Website Architecture
If you interlink data in your website better, you will experience a benefit towards your search engine ranking.
To illustrate the point further, disorganized classification of data or unstructured data practices often result in several different URLs for the same product on the same website.
By now, most SEOs know that duplicate data on a website is a strict NO-NO when it comes to search engine ranking.
On the other hand, if you put your website together using structured data in RDF format by running SPARQL queries to retrieve and manipulate data stored in RDF format, it will ensure better visibility in search results.
Using structured data yields better results than conventional OWL ontology (web-layered ontology) by making the website structure clear to both the search engine and the user.
In essence, by using structured data, you will end up with an internally consistent website that is logical and therefore favored by the search engine, which means that there will be a positive impact on search engine ranking for the website.
Automatically Links Through Machines
Since the inception of search engines, the traditional way that search engine users discover or request information is through a direct search engine query.
These days, however, different types of data valuable to the search engine user can be presented.
For instance, data from, Tweets, Facebook news feeds, and other social media platforms are increasingly being added as relevant and useful results in search engine result pages.
Additionally, Google increasingly produces results based on a user’s machine or profile observed behavior.
For example, let’s say that you love to search for American Football teams, players, and scores through your browser. Additionally, you have subscribed to a blog, several Twitter feeds, and Facebook groups about the NFL (National Football League).
If you do a Google search about ‘cowboys,’ your result is likely to yield more results about the Dallas Cowboys than about the animal herders or the 1972 film with the same title.
Therefore, the task for SEOs will be to structure more of their content and data to make it available for search engines for a more richly diverse search engine results page.
Additionally, rather than Google sending a search engine user to a webpage where the user will be encouraged to go through some conversion funnel or pathway, Google now provides answers on the Search Engine Results Page.
That is simply the case because Google’s knowledge graph makes search engines able to make sense of data and find the relationships between the data and content on websites.
Ranking Schema.Org And Structured Markup Data
When Google receives structured data as represented by your website, it does two key things to provide relevance and usefulness of your website to a search user’s query.
- It vets the data to make sure that it is authoritative data. It does this mainly through citations, user “votes,” and other ways of determining whether the content is spam.
- It then ranks the data. At the end of the day, Google focuses on one main objective: making it as easy and convenient as possible for the search engine user to find useful and relevant answers to their queries.
Though Google highly appreciates well-structured data or schema markup SEO, if the Google algorithm assesses that an unstructured or poorly written HTML web page is essential and valuable to many users, it will still rank higher.
According to Google, the search engine user’s preference, convenience, and content relevance are more important than whether the whole website is organized in Schema markup SEO.
Schema Markup SEO
Since we have already answered the question ‘Is Schema important for SEO?’, we will discuss the two basic ways to implement Google Schema markup in SEO campaigns.
First, Google has a tool called the Structured Data Markup Helper, which you can use to identify and tag elements on your website and incorporate them with the proper schema vocabulary semantically.
Secondly, if you are familiar with some basic coding in HTML, you will find it relatively easy to incorporate schema markup into the HTML for your website.
The image below from the meatloaf recipe illustrates how your schema markup will look and how it will work on a rich snippet.
Testing Schema Markup On Your Website
Once you have created the schema markup for your website using any of the two methods mentioned above, you should test the schema.
Google has two great tools that you can use to ensure that your schema implementation will be appropriately interpreted by the search engine when the website is crawled.
First, you should use the Structured Data Testing Tool. This tool allows you to test the correctness of your schema markup for SEO. It allows you to make changes immediately to repair any errors before deployment of your schema markup.
The second tool is the Structured data report. This tool helps you track how Google understands your structured data over time.
Since Google has provided excellent tools that you can use to implement schema on your website, you don’t need to be a programmer, so you can implement schema.
Additionally, there is a lot of good documentation at schema.org for you to add markup relevant to the resources on your web pages.
Once you have correctly deployed the schema, you will give the search engine a more significant opportunity to increase your visibility and traffic through the search engine results page (SERP). Therefore, you should endeavor to add as much markup as possible to your website.
Advantages Of Using Schema Markup
The following two Google features become available to you if you use schema markup for your web page content,
- Enhanced presentation and search results, including Rich Snippets, site link search boxes, and Breadcrumbs.
- Knowledge graphs, where if Google sees you as an authority for specific content, they will feature your authoritative data.
Apart from the great ego-trip that you will get from being represented in such a cool way on Google, there are some added advantages to using structured data and schema markup to your web pages as follows:
- Using schema, Google and other search engines can produce eye-catching results on the search engine results page to give you the edge over your competitors.
- Using schema, you will also find higher-quality results on the search engine results page. That will allow search engine users to quickly determine the results that are most relevant to them.
- Since it is currently estimated that less than 1% of all websites use schema markup for SEO (or structured data for SEO), there is still a lot of potential to create enhanced search results that will appeal to search engine users.
- Additionally, the more variations of schema that you use, the more you increase your opportunities to appear on the SERP with an enhanced, eye-catching presentation.
- Adding schema to your website will result in a higher click-through rate (CTR) due to the enhanced search engine results, e.g., Rich Results.
- Additionally, since the enhanced presentation in the search engine results page will give a lot of relevant information about the webpage, they are unlikely to bounce off the page once the user goes to the page.
Disadvantages Of Using Schema Markup
There are a few following drawbacks to implementing schema markup,
- Creating and deploying schema markup can be an involving task that will take up much of your time. That is especially the case when your website has several pages.
- So far, there is still shallow adoption of schema.
- Some marketers fear that the structured data on a website can also be used to provide answers right on the SERP, and this will mean that the search engine user may not feel compelled to go to the website for results.
That diminishes the potential for the website owner to convert traffic through any sort of conversion funnel.
- Since there is no absolute or solid proof that schema improves search rankings, it can be challenging to allocate resources to determine whether the investment in schema is worthwhile.
Does Schema Boost Your CTR?
Though we cannot be sure that Schema.org is used in search engine rankings, one area in which we have more certainty about the impact of schema is the impact on CTR.
If you talk to most SEO experts, they will tell you that if you make your search results relevant to search engine users and if you make the results more eye-catching and attractive than your competitors, you will attract more clicks.
Google will agree with this as well.
So we can safely assume that Schema does indeed increase your CTR.
However, the question is, how much?
Is the increase significant enough?
Well, back in 2011, searchengineland.com claimed that you could increase your CTR by 30%. Others claim that Schema can increase CTR between 15% and 50%. That is pretty significant.
Though Schema is relatively easy to implement, it is pretty baffling that quite a few webmasters and businesses have adopted it for their websites.
That being said, with the effort that search engines have clearly invested in structured data and Schema, it is quite clear that structured data is here to stay for quite a while to come.
That means that it is quite worth it to learn how to use structured data (and specifically Schema) and implement it for your website because it will improve your visibility and therefore help you to be a step ahead of your competition.
In fact, if you want more reasons to use more structured data, John Mueller of Google says that Google may soon add Structured Markup and data to its ranking algorithm.