Oct3
An Introduction To Schema

An Introduction To Schema

Posted by Neil Cumins

Unless your career involves database development or human psychology, you may not have heard of schema. However, schema markups can be of real value for corporate websites, so it’s worth getting to grips with this intriguing (if technical) concept…

What does schema mean?

In computing terms, schema describes a representation of a plan or theory. More specifically, this microdata outlines the organization and structure of a database. A schema is created by the formulas that determine what can and can’t happen in a particular database, in terms of data inputs and end products.

Why is it valuable?

Schema information enables search engines to interpret databases more accurately by providing them with an accurate description of what it is and how it should be treated. This code is known as schema markup, and it’s comparable to including a robots.txt file that search engine crawlers can interrogate. Marking up information gives search engines the best possible chance of understanding and interpreting page content by adding a degree of context.

Don’t search engines already scan everything?

Today’s crawlers often struggle to recognize attributes like times and dates, or individual database fields. Structured data markups in HTML help Google and Bing to interpret pages more accurately and deliver greater visibility. It might be used in rich snippets to display content, such as show times at a local theater. Otherwise, Google would have no idea what Dunkirk Thu 20:00 might mean.

Will schema boost my search rankings?

The answer is yes and no. Schema microdata won’t serve as a ranking signal, but the rich snippets outlined above boost the prominence – and visibility – of specific data. Some industry analysts have described schema text as a virtual business card, since it displays more than just in-line text copied from a web page. And since only a tiny fraction of the world’s websites use schema markup, its inclusion may elevate your site above competitors.

How do I incorporate schema into my website?

The introduction of HTML5 earlier in the decade saw the arrival of microdata tags, which annotate HTML elements with relevant information. Coders fluent in HTML are able to add schema directly into page contents with the <div itemscope> tag, followed by a string that specifies what sort of item is being referenced. However, most people prefer to use existing schema markup solutions from Schema.org. This community resource has contributed to over ten million websites including the BBC, eBay, Facebook, Tumblr and YouTube.

What should I know about Schema.org?

Co-founded and managed by industry giants including Google and Microsoft, the Schema.org portal has a repository of vocabularies developed through open source collaboration. The philanthropic nature of this website has seen a member of the W3C body joining its steering group, reflecting Schema.org’s vital importance on the internet’s development.

How do I find a schema to use in my own site?

You’ll find a huge collection of ready-made schemas at Schema.org’s dedicated GitHub repository, along with documentation and other useful resources. This is also one of two locations where changes are proposed and discussed – the other one is at w3.org’s Schema Community Group.

Are schemas compatible with WordPress?

Given its incredible flexibility, it’s unsurprising that WordPress has a number of schema solutions available for download. A search for “schema” on WordPress.org currently produces 21 pages of results, including a number of highly-rated plugins designed to simplify the process of marking up relevant content. You might also want to consider Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper, which creates microdata based on identified information before editing HTML accordingly.

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