Using Schema Markup for Local SEO
If you’ve been paying attention to digital marketing strategies, you might have heard about schema markups, also called structured data.
While the concept isn’t new, it does tend to fly under the radar for many small to medium business owners who have a lot on their plates.
This is good news for you.
Because implementing schema markup on your site can make a huge difference in standing out in a competitive local market. Schema markup makes it easier for search engines to read and display important information.
If you’ve looked into schema before, you might have lost interest or given up when you realized it involved diving into coding.
However, here’s the thing—you don’t need to know how to write code to add schema markup to your website. While a bit of coding know-how is helpful, there are tools that can take care of the heavy-lifting for you.
Below, we’ll share exactly what you need to know to easily implement schema markup and how it can improve your local SEO strategy.
What is Local Schema Markup?
Before we dive into the how-to, let’s talk about what schema markup and structured data are.
Schema markup (often called schema or structured data) is a semantic vocabulary of tags or microdata added to your site’s code to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in search engine results (SERPs).
Schema.org was created as part of a rare collaboration between Google, Microsoft, Yandex, and Yahoo! to help site owners provide the information that search engines need to understand your content and provide the best results possible to searchers.
The coding for schema markup can look pretty intimidating if you aren’t a developer:
There’s a lot of div tags, right?
Don’t worry. All that code does is tell Google and other search engines where to look for specific bits of data (such as an address, phone number, or business name).
Schema markup isn’t super complicated, and there are a ton of benefits to using it—particularly for local businesses in a competitive market.
What is Schema Markup Used For?
In plain terms, schema markup is used to tell the search engines what specific information your site contains and where it is located. It’s the back-end code that tells search engines “This is our address,” “This is a recipe,” or “This is a video.”
This extra information makes it easier for search engines to crawl, categorize, and rank content so they can deliver the best search results to users—which is a search engine’s main goal, after all.
For example, using schema markup to tell the search engines that a page contains a recipe allows that content to be displayed like this in the SERP:
Displaying images, reviews, and time to cook makes it easier for searchers to quickly select the recipe that is most appealing to them.
Commonly used types of schema markups include:
- Organization Markup: Gives information about a company including the logo, location, and contact information.
- Person Markup: Marks a person’s name, birthday, education, place of work, and family members.
- Local Business: Includes a local business or local branches address, telephone number, opening hours, menu, contact information, and other important details.
There are hundreds of markups for information such as recipes, how-to steps, language, diet types, medical device purposes, and many others.
The number of different markups can get overwhelming. Luckily, you don’t need to know them all.
If you own a local or multi-location business, the main schema markup you need to pay attention to is Local Business and a few of the informational ones.
Let’s dive into why they are so important.
Why Does Schema Markup Matter for Local SEO?
Local SEO strategies help local businesses or business branches to rank for searches performed in close geographical proximity to them.
Effective strategies include building links from local sites, improving Name, Address, Phone number (NAP) consistency, and targeting major key terms and city names.
For example, if you run a local yoga studio, you don’t want to rank for “yoga studio” nationwide, right? You’d get calls from people who are thousands of miles away.
Instead, you want to rank for “yoga studio <your city>.”
But can local schema markups improve your local rankings?
In fact, besides claiming your Google My Business account, using schema markups correctly can be one of the most effective ways to get found in local search results.
Think about the last time you used a search engine—maybe you were looking for Thai food delivery or a plumber. You, like most searchers, tend to look for businesses located near you.
In fact, 46% of Google searches are for local businesses.
When searchers look for local businesses, they aren’t usually looking for a blog or a whitepaper—they are looking for information like an address, a phone number, or the hours of operation.
Adding local schema markups to your HTML improves the way your page displays in SERPs by enhancing the rich snippets and helping your business show up in the knowledge graph.
Microsoft, for example, uses schema markup well and is rewarded by Google with a sidebar highlighting its CEO, stock price, and popular products:
Local businesses can highlight information important to local visitors like their location, phone number, hours, and where customers can place orders:
Using schema markups for SEO can also help your business show up in Google’s local three-pack. This used to be highly valuable, as it showed up at the very top of search results.
Nowadays, the three-pack is often pushed below the fold by paid results. Still, it does retain some value by increasing visibility.
Here’s how the three-pack looks today:
And while Google doesn’t consider structured data to be a ranking factor, it can improve your ranking indirectly.
Here’s what John Muller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, had to say about structured data:
<Embed code in comment>
In the age of Alexa, Ask Google, and Siri, schema markups can also help your site show up in voice search results. This is important at a time when nearly half of all searches are done by voice.
What Are the Different Formats of Schema Markup Data?
You don’t need an in-depth understanding of the different markup formats to implement schema. However, there are some differences to be aware of, if you are into that sort of thing. (Feel free to skip over this section).
There are three main types of schema markups:
- RDFa (Resource Description Framework in Attributes)
Each one has pros and cons, though JSON-LD is the most common format and the one suggested by Google.
Microdata is an HTML schema format that is inserted inline (which means it is added around the data on a page) and is visible on the page. This can limit page design and be complex to implement.
Here’s an example of what Microdata can look like:
JSON-LD is a type of structured data that is embedded in the <script> tag and can be placed anywhere on a page. This can make it easier to implement, as it doesn’t require changing other HTML elements. As mentioned above, it is also the format Google recommends.
Here is what JSON-LD coding looks like:
RDFa is a type of markup that allows you to add attributes to several codes, including HTML, XHTML, and other XMLs. It was developed in 2004 and is recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium.
What Markups Should I Use for My Local Business?
There are hundreds of different types of schema markups. The right ones for your business will depend on what information is most critical to your customers.
- If most of your customers call you, then you will want to use the telephone markup.
- If most are looking for your menu, you will want to markup your menu.
Aim to markup all the important information on your site.
Other popular markups for local business include:
- Opening hours
- Currencies accepted
- Price range
- Aggregate rating
- Area served
There are also markups for specific types of businesses, such as animal shelters, internet cafes, dentists, and child care centers.
Visit this page on schema.org to see a complete list: Local Business markups.
How Do I Implement Schema Markup On My Site?
Ready to add schema markup to your local business’ website?
Here are three ways to do so. We will start with the most manual process, then walk through two schema markup tools that are easier for those with less coding knowledge.
The most manual process is to use the coding from Schema.org and adjust it to fit your site. If you don’t have any coding knowledge, we strongly recommend using one of the tools listed below.
But, if you have a bit of coding knowledge and want to have complete control over the process, here’s how to do it. You will need to update the offered code with your details, then add it to your HTML head section.
- Navigate to Schema.org, which offers a complete listing of all the markups available
- Head to their list of markups here
- Then select the schema you want to use
For example, if you want to tag your phone number:
- Select Local Business from the main list of schemas
- Select the Telephone Schema
- Choose one of the example texts that most closely matches your information
- Select which format of schema markup you want to use (remember JSON-LD is Google’s recommendation)
- Copy and paste the code into notepad or a similar text editor
- Adjust the details to match your site
- Copy and paste into your site’s HTML head section
Then, repeat this process for each section you want to markup.
2. Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper
Google’s tool walks you through how to add schema markups to your website. Start by selecting the type of markup you want to add from the provided list.
Then, input your URL in the provided field at the bottom of the page.
Next, highlight information and select the appropriate tag. The screenshot below shows selecting the address, then choosing the correct tag.
Continue to highlight and tag information on the page. The tags will show up on the right-hand side of the tool.
Once all the appropriate tags are added, click “Create HML” in the top right corner. The tool will generate the appropriate coding, which you will then need to add to the head section of your site’s HTML.
Repeat these steps for each page on your site.
3. Use Schema WordPress Plugin
If you use WordPress, the simplest method to add schema markup to your site is this schema plugin. It will automatically add markup in the JSON-LD format. It requires very little work, which is ideal for site owners who don’t have coding knowledge or the time to mess with code.
This plugin works alongside the Yoast SEO plugin as well as AMP and The SEO Framework.
They offer both a free and premium plugin, with additional features such as one-on-one support and extensions for WooCommerce.
Final Step: Check Your Markups
After implementation, your final step should be to use Google’s structured data testing tool, which will validate your coding and make sure you are good to go!
While adding schema markups won’t guarantee your site will show up in rich snippets or directly improve click-through rates, it can make it far easier for Google and your site visitors to find the critical information they need about your business.