One of the biggest question clients ask is how to improve their site’s visibility on search engines. The concern is even greater with online storeowners. Products from their store appearing high in the search results lead to an increase in visitors and sales. Millions of online users are searching for products, topics and interests utilizing the most popular search engines including Google, Yahoo, and Bing. These search engines depend on proper markup and formatted content on sites in order to direct users to the best results. There are several things companies can do to improve their ranking or position in search results for free. One major aspect to consider is your site schema or markup and how a search engine understands it.

HTML Formatting Doesn’t Cut It

Good HTML formatting helps control how browsers actually render content on a page, but a little more is needed in order to tell a search engine crawling the site exactly what the content represents. Additional vocabulary and microdata is needed to provide Google, Bing and other more detail. A search engine will have a limited understanding of page content, but microdata clarifies the exact topic of the content. Below is an example:

Typical HTML Example

<div class="artist-name">Michael Jackson</div>
<div class="label">Epic Records</div>
<div class="genre">Pop</div>

HTML with Microdata

<div itemscope itemtype ="http://schema.org/MusicRecording">
<h1 itemprop="name">Thriller</h1>
<div itemprop="performer" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Person" class="artist-name">Michael Jackson</div>
<div itemprop="genre" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/MusicRecording" class="genre">Pop</div>

References and Tools

The “itemscope” and “itemtype” elements are only a few markups elements and tags that can be integrated into a site to help control how a site is crawled.  Every person, product, book, movie, business, and place has a specific identifier. Every one of these things has four base properties, including a name, description, URL, and image. The amount of variables can be overwhelming and complex. Have no fear! There are tools out there to help web developers with this markup integration.

  • Schema.org – This website serves as the main guide for learning the proper way for integrating this additional markup into a site. Not only is there considerable documentation available, but the site does a great job explaining the reasoning for schemas and how search engines utilize them.
  • Google WebMaster Tools – Google provides answers regarding rich snippets, including microdata and microformats. The goal of Google WebMaster Tools is to ensure that your site is doing everything possible to be properly crawled by Google and other search engines. Two links of value include answers to frequently asked questions regarding schema.org and the structured data testing tool. The structured data test allows you to enter a sample URL and see how Google is pulling the page content.


Schema.org and Google WebMaster Tools both provide great resources for structuring your data to be crawled correctly.


Impact on Social Sharing

The microdata found on a webpage can also impact the way this data is pulled when shared on a social media site. There is additional data that can be included into the page, like Facebook Open Graph, that provides the social site more information on the actual content and the correct fields to display in a shared post. After investing the time in writing valuable content, additional markup is a great way to ensure that your content is pulled into Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+ the correct way. SEOMoz has a great article about social snippets and stuructioning data correctly for social sharing. While social snippets help social sites, the additional micordata found on schema.org is needed for search engines.

As search engines change their search algorithms and the way they crawl site data, the micodata and other formatting required will also expand. It is important for sites to grow and change with search engines to ensure that their data is indexed properly and found by the end user. The end goal is a unified standard that websites and search engines will follow, which will allow users to find the exact content and products they are looking for. To discuss additional web topics or concerns, feel free to contact out team.