Schema is markup coding that applies structured data to your website to allow search engines to identify the exact purpose of particular elements of your website. As a result, schema provides an awareness factor for search engines and offers the ability for your brand to take up more screen real estate in the SERPs, and therefore obtain higher click through rates.
These placements in the SERPs include rich snippets (also known as the barnacle which includes things like reviews/ratings and Google+ page links); map markers showing the pinpoint icon which links to Google Maps (also shows a businesses address and phone number); and the map knowledge graph which compiles a range of data about the location within the map listing on the right hand side (much of the info is taken from the Google My Business listing, but other sources are also used).
All of this rich information also improves the user experience because people are able to find out a lot more details about what you are offering (e.g. opening hours, prices, ratings) through the actual search process itself, at a glance, prior to visiting your site.
For local businesses there is a specific schema markup which can be found here: https://schema.org/LocalBusiness. Within that framework there are sub-schema that cater for local business types such as restaurants, hotels, service stations, banks, etc. This schema for local businesses, is primarily used as a signal to the search engines to ensure correct categorisation and identification of important business information.
As part of our local audit process, NAPtastic will review your website and recommend schema to improve local visibility for your brand.
When building the pages of your website use schema to markup as many important local elements as you can as a clear indicator to the search engines of the primary details of your business. This is useful in situations where you may have multiple phone numbers on your webpage, but you want to identify just one as the local phone number – Using schema in this fashion allows you to accurately identify the predominant data for the page.
Business elements that can be marked up include:
Business Type (e.g. hotel, restaurant, bank)
- Opening hours
- Phone Number
- Local URL
Customer reviews and ratings in 3rd party citations such as Yelp and TripAdvisor are generally already marked up, which is an opportunity to take advantage and attract new eyeballs directly from search engine results. Leveraging these 3rd party citations is an important consideration when competing against other local businesses via ratings allowing your business to showcase the positive reviews it has obtained. This is also known as Barnacle SEO, because you are effectively attaching yourself like a barnacle to the the bigger players in the fleet, and using their size and authority to create SEO success.
It is also recommended that brands apply schema markup to represent their social channels. This is a fairly recent development and more information can be found here: https://developers.google.com/webmasters/structured-data/customize/social-profiles
Resources for Schema Implementation and Tracking
Google offers a number of free resources to help webmasters with schema implementation.
- Google Structured Data Testing Tool: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/
A user can paste source code or a website URL into the tool which then validates the schema markup being used. If any errors are found the tool will stipulate how these can be resolved.
- Google Structured Data Markup Helper: https://www.google.com/webmasters/markup-helper
The data markup tool allows a user to markup individual items directly from the website view. All sections, when the user selects the local business schema, can be exported into HTML and uploaded to a CMS.
- Google Webmaster Tools: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
Within the Webmaster Tools dashboard there is a section that allows you to track the progress of your implementation and whether Google has indexed it on a page-by-page basis (see image). This allows a quick diagnosis of any issues you may be having with your local business schema implementation.
NAPtastic offers a Schema Recommendation package for small business, which enhances local business information for users within search engine results.