Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog! Here’s the latest on Schemas for Your Brand

We’re asked quite frequently about search engine optimization and how our clients can get the best search engine ranking. While the answer to that question used to be about keywords and site structure, the answer today is content. Don’t get me wrong: good site structure is still very important and having a well-defined list of keywords can help you focus your content, but the absolute best thing you can do to improve your page rank is to provide fresh content that keeps people coming back to your site. Search engines now recognize good content similar to the way a human would:

Is it relevant to the topic searched for?  Is it interesting? Does it encourage users to read more? Is it related to other reputable content sources?

In short: write for humans and search engines will reward you.

But sometimes search engines have difficulty understanding what content actually means and how it relates to other content on the web. The difficulty goes back to semantics: search engines are, after all, only robots.

Luckily search engines are working fast and furious to solve the problem of semantics to deliver the most relevant results. HTML5 introduced to us a library of new markups, or schemas that can be used to better define the content we publish to make it more search friendly.
Schemas allow us to define the content being discussed as a creative work, event, organization, person, place, product, review, or one of the many other content types that fall under these broad categories. We can further define any content that relates to or describes the topic by defining its properties.
For example let’s look at how the fictitious business Joe’s Plumbing could use schemas to better define their content on the web.
First, we want the search engine to know that “Joe’s Plumbing” is the name of a company. On the Joe’s Plumbing website we can add the itemtype markup to the words “Joe’s Plumbing” and define it in one of the following ways:

  • Thing
  • Place
  • Organization
  • Local Business
  • Home and Construction Business
  • Plumber

Notice that as you go down the list the ways you can define an itemtype get more and more specific. And because of the way schemas are structured each itemtype is treated as a subset of the type above it, inheriting all properties of that type. So we could say that Joe’s Plumbing is a Local Business but if we specify it as a Plumber, search engines will know Plumber falls under the category of Local Business.

Once we define the itemtype we can then markup up content related to that itemtype. For example, the Plumber itemtype allows us to identify: Description, Name, Image, Address, Map, Phone number, Fax number, Reviews, Email, Employee, Founder, Founding date, Branch of a larger organization, Operating hours, Payment accepted, and Price Range.

But, you may say, this information is already on my website! Why do I need to add it to a schema?

Answer: go to Google. Search for “The Dark Knight Rises.” To the right of the normal search engine results is some information about the movie. It gives a quick description, release date, director, rating, cast, etc. That is what schema does. It allows the search engine to understand how different pieces of information on the web (a movie description, an actor’s bio, and a date) relate to one another. The information now makes sense to both humans and search engines.

Schemas are powerful tools that we now have access to. But there is much more to their implementation than can be discussed in a single blog post. I would encourage you to read the documentation and examples on schema.org and decide how you can use schemas to help make your site more search engine friendly.