Google introduced Schema markup in 2011. It is a form of a microdata that was made in collaboration by Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Yandex. The objective has been to develop a specific language of tags that enable webmasters to communicate the meaning of web pages to computer programs that read them, including search engines.
Schema and semantic search
After Google’s Hummingbird update, semantic search has become a more necessary factor to be considered for anyone looking to better their online visibility.
Google has been working to provide more meaningful answers based on a better understanding of search queries. Google weighs the searcher intent against the data it already has. Structured data markup like Schema enables webmasters to have more of an influence.
Before the introduction of Schema markup, more complicated microformats such as hCard could be used to identify aspects of a webpage to search engines. As described in The Art of SEO, before Schema, “semantic markup was largely the province of academia”.
Generate rich snippets
Now with the use of Schema there are more opportunities for improving your appearance in search results. For example coffee shops can display their reviews and have them pulled through to search results.
In search results, these additional details are known as “rich snippets”
Influence the knowledge graph
This kind of structured data markup can have an influence on the knowledge graph and allow computer programs to read the most important information on your website more clearly.
Getting started with Schema
Google has a Structured Data Markup Helper, which is a useful starting point.
One of the most immediate ways Schema can be used for businesses with a physical address is to improve local SEO through establishing their business name, address and phone number (NAP information) more clearly.
It’s vital to test your markup before you implement it with Google’s structured data testing tool.