This article explains what schema markups are and how they will impact your website’s SEO so that you’ll have everything you need to start implementing them.
Digital marketing is changing – at this point, that’s not a controversial statement. But if you’re one of the people who still doesn’t believe that video content is taking over the Internet, there are some statistics that you’ll definitely want to know more about.
One recent study revealed that by as soon as the end of this year, more than 80% of all traffic on the Internet will be video-based. Consumers don’t just love videos – they want as much of it as they can get. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the inability of crawlers to read media objects on web pages like video content.
Make no mistake about it: crawlers are some of the most important allies you have in the content marketing game and if you want people to be able to easily find, consume and enjoy your content, they need to be able to find it too.
That, of course, is where structured data and schema markups come into play.
Even though search engines like Google and Bing have been supporting these types of schema markups for years, so many businesses – especially smaller ones – are still unaware of their benefits. Simply put, using schema markups is the most powerful way to help search engines “understand” what your site is offering and what it’s all about, which in turn affects everything from your rankings to your ability to connect with the people who matter most.
In this article, we’re going to cover what schema markups are, and how they will impact your SEO. By the end, you’ll have everything you need to start implementing them on your web pages.
To better understand what schema markups are, we need to first talk about what structured data is.
So what is structured data?
Think of structured data as a piece of code written for search engines to help them understand the content and structure of your pages. Then, in turn, Google, and other search engines use this information to provide searchers with more data. Google also uses the same code to generate rich snippets for your links on SERP.
To start implementing these codes on your pages, you first need a “dictionary” of all the available, and relevant structured data types, that search engines like Google can understand, and that’s where Schema.org comes into play. Schema.org is a collaborative active community with a single goal: “to create, maintain, and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet”.
Now that we have an idea of what schema markups are let’s get into why they matter and what exactly they do:
As discussed before, search engine crawlers, (or spiders) are excellent at contextualizing traditional, text-based content on a website. However, they still have a difficult time “figuring out” media objects like video. They can see that a video is present, but they’re not sure what it’s “about” or why it matters. Schema markups, by design, are intended to give those crawlers the additional contextual information that they lack on their own, thus improving your visibility along the way.
The type of information you can convey via schema markups is extensive, including not only the thumbnail URL, the duration and the title of your video, but also additional characteristics like the composer of the music in your video or even the director. You can check Schema.org, for a comprehensive list of all the different video schema markup properties, that you can use on your video pages.
One of the most important things to understand is that schemas are always helpful, even when you’re not talking about a video that you actually host. So say you uploaded a video to YouTube and then later want to embed it on a blog post on the same topic. You can still add markups to that embedded video, increasing its visibility and chance of connecting with people.
The same is true of any OTT service you might be working with. If you’re in the process of building your own video on demand platform, the chances are high that you’ll still want to embed some of that content on your own domain. Thankfully, this is easy – just pick your videos, select the right schemas and Google will still be able to provide that information to searchers. So not only will they be able to more easily find your embedded videos, but those videos will also drive users to your video website in a way that gives you a boost there, too.
Remember that search engines are all about helping users find what they’re looking for in the easiest way possible. Based on that, select your schemas based on the information you feel they need to know in order to accomplish this. The possibilities are huge and there really is no “one size fits all” approach to this, but here are a few properties that you should consider:
There are a few different ways to implement schemas across your own page, but one of the most popular and scalable ways is via the Google Tag Manager. As the name suggests, it’s an extension of Google Analytics that allows you to not only better measure your advertising return on investment but also track Flash and video activity, as well as gain visibility into what is going on with social networking sites and other applications that you may be using.
To start implementing schemas using the Google Tag Manager, you’ll need to first create the relevant JSON-LD code.
To do that, first, find the schema markup on the Schema.org website that best aligns with the information you want to convey and make any changes necessary so that it better aligns with your intentions.
Since here we’re talking about video schema markups, let’s take a look at the “VideoObject” schema.
The JSON-LD code for that looks something like this:
"name": "Name of your video goes here",
"description": "The description of the video.",
"name": "Name of your organization",
Then, take that code and paste it into the Yoast's Google Tag Manager JSON-LD Script Helper. It’s a tool designed by Yoast to dramatically decrease the amount of time necessary to take what you just pasted and translate it into a working script on GTM.
At that point, all you have to do is copy and paste the code into the Google Tag Manager, add a trigger and publishing the code across your site.
Your schemas will be now implemented, Google will have the contextual information necessary to provide that data to search users and suddenly they have more data than ever to work with. Everybody wins. Though the above mentioned would only work per page, and you would then need to tweak the code for every video pages you have on your website. But worry not, there is a way to automate this process through Google Tag Manager, and that’s through creating variables. To learn all about that I suggest you read Yoast’s guide on adding JSON-LD structured data with Google Tag Manager.
Note that if your site was built using WordPress, there are plugins that can essentially do the exact same thing for that format and much more.
Likewise, Google has a tool designed for testing your structured data code/page before you roll it out in a larger way. You should definitely use it to avoid making a syntax mistake that would prevent the schemas from working properly.
Now that you know what to do when using schema markups, it’s equally important that you know what not to do – traps and pitfalls to stay away from that would ultimately harm your efforts, not help them.
As mentioned before there are other ways of creating the JSON-LD code for your pages, and one of the ways is through leveraging Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper. Even though it’s a powerful and easy tool to use tool to create JSON-LD, it does have a few critical limitations – like the fact that it doesn’t include all of the schemas that are available. For the best results, you can check Schema.org for the full list of available schemas that you can use on your pages.
One of the alternative ways for creating and implementing JSON-LD on your pages is through Google Data Highlighter. Although it’s a very user-friendly tool to work with, it has a critical flaw that you should consider before using it. And that’s because only Google can gain access to the information you provide. This will absolutely help your efforts as far as Google’s search engine is concerned… but others, like Bing, and Apple, won’t make that leap forward at the same time.
The best (and easiest), and most scalable way to accomplish all of this is to use either a dedicated plugin or the Google Tag Manager as outlined above. Even though Google is by far the most popular search engine out there, people still use alternatives – which is why you want to make sure your efforts carry across to as many different sources as possible.
Schema markups are a powerful tool and it’s in your own best interest to take advantage of them. As we quickly approach a time where there is more OTT content on the Internet than ever, any step that lets you further stand out in a crowded marketplace and connect with your audience in a meaningful way is very much a step worth taking.
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Published on 02/11/2019 by Amir Shahzeidi.
Amir is the digital marketing manager at Uscreen, a video monetization platform that allows creators to monetize their content. He's also a composer and pianist who's rarely loved by his neighbors because all he ever plays is atonal music. But cats love him so it's fine!