If you are in the world of SEO, you are probably familiar with the concept of schema, also known as structured data or rich snippets. For those of you who are not, schema markup is a type of language that basically explains to search engines what the web page is about. This markup (particularly Microdata, RDFa, or JSON-LD) is used exclusively for content classification.
Schema labels (i.e., codes or schema.org vocabulary) are copied into the backend and help search engines understand the type of content they are about to crawl, such as FAQs, recipe pages, blogs and articles, local business information, and so on.
Additionally, schema markup can be beneficial for:
- Obtaining a higher SERP (search engine result page) ranking
- Having better control over your brand image
- Enhancing your content strategy and structure
- Boosting organic traffic
Occupying more space on SERP
It is important to understand that while rich snippets do not directly affect your website rankings, using structured data markup has an indirect SEO benefit by making your web pages easier to index. It also helps search engines gather more accurate and targeted information by letting them know what you would like to highlight within your content.
Structured Data Language
As mentioned above, there are multiple ways to implement structured data using various languages.
Microdata is annotations that are implemented inline within the HTML of a specific element in schema markup. You can tag certain aspects of a product, such as its name, price, ratings, and more, by using microdata. Structured data has long been implemented using microdata, which is still supported. However, there are now more efficient markup implementation tools that are more user-friendly.
Similar to microdata in appearance and implementation, RDFa allows you to define property types and tag items such as product images, ratings, and pricing using in-line HTML. Just like microdata, RDFa is also a suitable approach to mark up your webpages. That being said, it could be challenging to scale several pages without employing logic-based methods to identify similar elements across your website, especially if there are hundreds of product images, reviews, prices, etc.
Why Is It Important To Conduct A Schema Markup Audit?
A schema markup audit can help you find areas where your web page can communicate more effectively with the search engines and maximize your “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO) efforts.
By checking the quality of your code on a regular basis, you can validate your structured data’s integrity and effectiveness and make sure it is active on all relevant pages.
The audit procedure involves searching through every single page on your website’s
backend to find the following:
- The already existing structured data on your website
- The errors and problems with the data
The opportunities out there that you can implement (i.e., missing structured data)
When it comes to analyzing the opportunities for your website, it is important to take your content into consideration and understand whether these content types have a suitable search feature that can be optimized.
For instance, a typical ecommerce website would include:
- Product Pricing
- Videos of Products
- Product Reviews
- Blog Content
- Location and Contact Information
- Software and Applications
It is also recommended to use keyword tracking software during this process. These software allow you to see which keywords are associated with search engine result page features. By utilizing these keywords, you can further identify opportunities for schema markup, which helps you increase the likelihood of appearing as rich results on search engine result pages. After this process, you would be able to determine which of the various types of content can be marked up.
Once you identify the content types that can be marked up, you can use schema.org to review the most up-to-date types of schema that are being supported. Remember, the goal is to find the most relevant markup that correctly applies to each category and/or item of content on your website.
Through the audit, you are able to build an effective schema strategy by making sure you have the most fitting schema types that are available out there for your website.
Necessary Requirements for Schema Markup Audit
Schema markup audits usually involve two main software applications.
- Google Search Console
- Paid applications such as Screaming Frog, SiteBulb, SEMRush, etc.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is one of the most popular places to begin your schema markup audit.
If you do not have one, you can create your Google Search Console account by using the same login information as your Gmail or other Google services.
Once you log in to your Google Search Console account, select “Enhancements” from the left-side bar. This section displays a list of errors and warnings, from which you will be pointed to the pages that are impacted by these errors. Keep in mind that red text denotes errors that are invalid.
While using Google Search Console, you need to examine the pages that are identified by Google. This will identify the section of your website that does not have any schema markup implemented. For instance, there might be pages on your website that have FAQ sections but they might not be represented in the list of FAQ schema markup.
Google also has useful tools, such as the URL Inspection Tool and the Rich Result Test Tool, which are free of charge.
The URL Inspection Tool allows you to check whether a URL on your website might be indexable and provides details about the version of a given page that Google has indexed. The information covers specifics regarding video, structured data, linked AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), as well as indexing/indexability. If you have structured data, further details can be found in the “Enhancement” section. Additionally, Google’s assessment of your page’s mobile usability is provided in this section.
The Rich Result Test Tool displays the types of rich results that are detected on your pages along with the warnings and errors for the structured data. Once you find errors and warnings on the test results, expand each item to view further information, and then click the description to open the code explorer at the corresponding spot. Note that the explorer uses the rendered source code.
The “Crawling” section of the Rich Result Test Tool displays information about whether Google is permitted to crawl the page or not. If Google is not able to crawl the page (for instance, if crawling is prevented by a robots.txt rule), the page cannot be tested with this tool.
The Rich Result Test Tool also shows a preview of how a certain rich result type will be displayed on the Google search result page. This tool includes selectors to help you explore the various layouts, including desktop and mobile, if your page qualifies for multiple search result layouts. By altering the code and re-running the test, you can experiment with different layouts for your page. You can choose a result type to display and select a mobile or desktop version depending on what the tool detects on the webpage. It is important to note that Google does not guarantee that your page will look exactly the same as the preview section on the search result page. Google strives to offer the best result for a search request based on the user’s search history, location, and a variety of other factors.
Paid Applications for Schema Markup Audit
You can also conduct schema markup audits via paid tools. Here are some of those tools that you can use:
Screaming Frog, one of the most popular schema audit tools, provides many advantages, including a thorough schema markup audit. This tool will give you all the information you require for a schema markup analysis, including URLs, Microdata, JSON-LD, and RDFa, as well as missing structured data, validation errors, and warnings, and parsing errors. Here are the steps you need to follow in order to conduct your audit:
Click Configuration > Spider
Choose the “extraction” tab
Scroll down to “structured data”
Check all the boxes
Run the crawling feature
Another useful paid tool for schema audits is SiteBulb. SiteBulb can offer insightful information regarding your structured data and help you solve current issues. By selecting the “structured data” slider in the “Audit Data” menu, you can start the crawling process. Once the tool finds validation errors that do not comply with schema.org, you will be able to see error messages along with error details and links to related resources. The best part is that the tool provides guidance regarding how to resolve the issues related to your schema markup.
The final paid application for a schema markup audit on our list is SEMRush. Through this tool, you can easily find on-page search engine optimization (SEO) errors and learn how to fix them. You can access the “Site Audit” tool as part of your SEMRush subscription to audit your entire website. During this audit, the tool will look for both on-page and off-page elements affecting your search engine result page ranking. You can discover what’s missing, incorrect, and broken. The tool also allows you to examine your site’s crawlability, fundamental web vitals, and overall website performance. Additionally, you can find out more about the internal linking problems and your SEO implementation.
If your website is multilingual, the SEMRush audit will look at the hreflang attribute (an HTML attribute used to specify the language and geographical targeting of a webpage), which informs search engines what language the content is. Plus, SEMRush may check to make sure that Google is displaying the correct version of your site to its various international visitors.
Keep in mind that the errors discovered during the audit must be prioritized. These errors have the potential to seriously harm your website’s overall performance and rankings.
Another important thing to note is that duplicate content seriously harms your website’s ranking due to the fact that it creates confusion within search engines and users. These audits would help you detect duplicate content and allow you to notice what needs to be modified or removed. Either you need to combine these pages together and get rid of any references to the old page, or you should create content that is sufficiently distinct and original.
A thorough schema markup audit can help you examine whether the appropriate schema type is chosen and implemented on your webpage. It is crucial to keep yourself informed about schema updates and changes that are happening on a regular basis.
Google keeps expanding and improving its algorithm to understand the entities and relationships. This means their use of structured data will continue to make an appearance in search result pages. Through audits like this, you would be able to position your website to benefit the most from current and upcoming Google updates.
To ensure the success of your SEO efforts and maximize them, schema markup audits are a must. They can assist you in discovering opportunities, current errors, and warnings that prevent search engines from properly crawling and indexing your website. Even if you are satisfied with your marketing strategy and the outcome, you still need to audit your structured data at least once a year.