Search engine results are displayed in SERPs as “snippets” – details of pages in the form of links, URLs, images etc – visual cues that let the searcher know what to expect when they click through to the actual page. Structured microdata helps search engines display additional information to enrich the look and structure of search results snippets and upgrade not only the content but the appearance too.
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HTML Tag Types And Markups For Webmasters
Evolving from existing markup languages, the first version of a common, standardized markup language to structure data across web pages via the use of HTML tags was adopted by Google, Bing and Yahoo! in mid 2011. The influential triumvirate has since been joined by Yandex, the Russian search engine.
This markup language, with various clearly structured and categorized schema types, can be found at Schema.org. Presented in the form of standard HTML tags and formatted for the respective search engines, these precisely coded tags can easily be installed on sites.
The picture on the left is a screenshot of a search for “need for speed movie” on Google.com. Snippets from IMDb.com for film ratings, crew & cast members, etc. are clearly seen, along with respective additional information in the Wikipedia snippet. Please note that the latter does not come from schema: For large sites, like Amazon.com or Wikipedia.org, Google reads ‘schema-like’ structured data on its own and presents them in the respective domain’s snippets, even though these domains do not use Schema.org.
The content is first classified as a “Movie”, followed by hierarchical items for ratings, cast members, etc.
Enrichment Of Search Results Through Microdata Integration
This not only resolves structural issues that often arise when structured data is converted into HTML, but it also improves the flow of content from the web site, via the search engine, to the user.
Does the inclusion of microdata increase click-through rates or have a positive effect on rankings? Searchmetrics has analyzed tens of thousands of representative keywords, and rankings for over half a million domains from our comprehensive data base, for the effect of the use of Schema.org markups in terms of dissemination and integration type.
Very Few Domains Integrate Schema HTML Tags
Our Initial Discoveries: An almost vanishingly small fraction of domains use the integration of schema. Based on our keyword sets, the percentage was only 0.3%. However, this percentage increased slightly in recent months from 0.27%. In Germany the percentage is about a third higher at 0.41%.
In addition, larger domains seem to set a markup by means of structured data more frequently. The SEO Visibility score (the visibility of domains and of their individual URLs in search engines) of domains using schema markups is about 60,000, well above the score for domains that do not include similar integrations of just over 1,000.
Nearly 40% Of Keywords Studied Via Google Include Schema Snippets
The potential of Schema becomes clear when you realize that nearly 40% of keywords – from the appropriate SERPs, respectively – include at least one snippet with information derived from Schema.org. Although this has declined slightly compared to a previous analysis, the overall proportion of keywords resulting in SERPs displaying snippets with additional markup information – such as from Amazon.com and Wikipedia.org, which do not use the Schema.org facility – has risen.
In other words: The percentage of keywords without any markup-derived snippets has consequently declined, and is currently at about 34%.
Most Popular Markups: Movies, Offers and Reviews
The most commonly supplied schema markups relate to Movies, Offers and Reviews. Often, results will include ‘Star Ratings’ to emphasize the reviews.
Distribution Of Schema Types In Domain HTML vs Google Snippets
Given that Google is actively using embedded markups in search results and displaying them in the snippet, the next question for webmasters is: ’Which, and how many, schema markups included in my domain are actually applied by Google’?
To find out, we first analyzed the number of schema types included in the HTML of ranked domains.
The table on the right compares 2014 with 2013. It can be clearly seen that there is a move to more integration schema for the average domain from the 2013 figure of 2 types of integration per domain to 3 this year already. Average values for 4 to 7 types of integration have increased significantly, whereas fewer domains currently incorporate only one or two markups.
SERPs also show a shift, although not quite as defined:
The graph compares 2014 to 2013, and shows that the number of domains displayed with 2 Schema type integrations in SERPs is far higher currently, however this total has reduced from 2013, along with the total number of domains displayed with only 1 Schema-type integration.
Those snippets returned with 3 different schema-types are becoming more prominent in SERPs.
In short: Both developers and Google seem to be integrating more and more structured data.
Domains Using Schema Rank Higher (!?)
This statement should be treated with caution. To isolate the impact of mark-up languages and the integration of additional information/markup in the rankings and evaluation of domains by algorithms is very a complex procedure. However, we have examined the average rank of domains with and without schema.
Results: We found that domains with schema integrations do in fact rank better by an average of 4 positions when compared to domains without them. By way of qualification, it should be noted that domains with integrated Schema tags may be generally better optimized than domains without.
Conclusion: Rarely Used By Webmasters – Already Common In The Google SERPs
In summary, it can be stated that Schema integrations are included on very few domains currently, even though the markup language has been a standard feature of the development landscape for a long time, and is used widely by Google to enrich snippets with additional information.