Schema. It’s a tough word to say, isn’t it?
It’s kind of like Bjork. You think you know how to pronounce it, but the first time you speak it out loud you find yourself doing the ole’ name + mumble combo in an effort to conceal the fact that you’re not 100% sure how to say it.
For a long time I felt the same way with my general understanding of schema. I felt like I kind of understood it, but I wasn’t 100% sure. After realizing that I wasn’t 100% sure how schema markup worked I decided to go on a schema research frenzy (like I do…).
This post is a condensed review of that research, written from a food blogging perspective.
That being said, if you’re not a food blogger you should still keep reading. Schema markup is a concept that all bloggers and website owners should understand (and implement)!
I know that a lot of you read the words “schema” and “markup” and you think “really complicated.” Thankfully that’s not the case. The good news with running a food blog is that there usually isn’t any manual coding you have to do to use schema markup on your blog.
You just need to:
- Understand how schema markup works and why it’s important.
- Use the right plugins so schema markup is added to your blog.
Let’s start with that first part, understanding how schema works and why it’s important.
I think it’s easiest to understand the concept by pretending that you and I are sitting across from each other at a coffee shop (if you really want to paint the picture, I’d be drinking an Earl Grey Tea Latte).
Instead of just talking at you (i.e. the equivalent of writing really long paragraphs about schema markup), I’ll do my best to talk with you. I’ll do this by providing short, simple answers to questions that you might be asking yourself about recipe schema markup and how it impacts your food blog.
Let’s jump in!
PART 1: Understanding how schema markup works and why it’s important
How’s the Earl Gray Tea Latte?
Super yummy. Thanks for asking.
Bjork, do you mind if I ask you a few questions about schema?
Sounds like fun! I love talking about schema markup. What are your questions?
What is schema?
Schema markup is a type of code you add to your website, but I like to think of it as an interpreter between you and search engines.
It can also be called “structured data.”
Do you have an example?
Let’s say that you have the word “chocolate” in one of your recipes.
Without an “interpreter,” Google isn’t smart enough to know if you’re talking about (a) an ingredient in your recipe or (b) the 2008 movie about an autistic girl with powerful martial art skills who settles her ailing mother’s debts by seeking out the ruthless gangs that owe her family money.
Yes, that movie description is for real, and yes, the movie is called Chocolate.
That’s why we need schema markup. Schema markup acts as an interpreter between the content on your blog and a search engine. When using schema markup, you just add a little piece of code to the word “chocolate” so Google knows that you’re talking about chocolate the ingredient, not the movie.
What does schema markup look like?
Here’s what it would look like if we were talking about Chocolate the movie:
Here’s what it would look like if we were talking about chocolate as an ingredient:
That looks kind of complicated. Will I need to know how to code that?
Nope. Not if you use the right plugins. This post is just about understanding what schema markup is and how it’s used, not learning how to code it.
Who created this darned thing?
The folks behind Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and Yandex (a Russian search engine) teamed up to create the Schema.org community, which helps to “create, maintain, and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet.” You can read more about it at schema.org.
There are a few different types of schema markup including Microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD.
Okay, so which schema markup should I use?
Yeah, good question. Right now, the recommended schema markup is called JSON-LD. You can read a bit more about it here, but it’s the preferred schema markup for search engines like Google and Pinterest.
So what’s in it for the search engines?
The goal of a search engine is to provide really helpful, quality search results to their users. Schema markup helps them accomplish this goal by making it easier for them to show results that have additional (i.e. helpful) information.
For instance, IMDb uses schema markup for movie ratings. This allows Google to pull that into their search result and show it on the search page:
Pinch of Yum uses schema markup for our recipes, which allows Google to pull in the recipe image and star rating:
So what’s in it for me?
Ah, yes. The million dollar question!
Using schema markup on your site increases the chances that search engines will show rich snippets for your site, which increases the CTR for search results (CTR stands for “Click Through Rate”).
In other words, using schema markup on your site increases the chances that your blog’s search results will include more interesting information (like a photo, a rating, or ingredients information), which in turn means that more people will click on that link.
While having schema markup on your page doesn’t directly impact your search ranking, the CTR from searches does impact your ranking. When a user clicks on a search result and stays on that page (i.e. they don’t immediately go back to the search results page), that’s a signal that the search result matched the query. Google and other search engines care very much aout matching the user’s query, so when your page matches the query, well, your page is more likely to rank well.
Another cool thing about schema markup is that other websites can use it to add functionality to their site.
Why did you emphasize the words “increases the chances” in that last answer?
It’s important to know that using schema markup doesn’t guarantee that search engines will use that information to enhance your content in search results, it only increases the chance that they’ll use it.
What’s an example of a website that uses schema markup to add functionality?
If you’re a food blogger than you’re probably familiar with Rich Pins for Recipes.
With Rich Pins, Pinterest uses your blog’s schema markup to pull in additional information about your recipe and displays that information with the pin.
Here’s an example of what that looks like:
Now, if we look at the blog post’s source code we can see the schema markup that Pinterest is using to pull in that information:
Pretty neat, huh?
Will using schema markup help my blog posts show up higher in search results?
Not necessarily. That’s what Google says at least.
If you watch this video from Google you’ll see that their answer to this question isn’t a “hard no,” but it’s definitely not a “yes” either.
Why should I use schema markup if it doesn’t help my site show up higher in Google?
See question “So what’s in it for me?”.
Okay…I get the gist of it. Hit me with the hard stuff! Can you show me some schema in action?
Take a look at this quick video FBP team member, Alexa, put together showing you an example of schema in action on a Pinch of Yum recipe post.
PART 2: Using the right plugins so schema markup is added to your blog
Awesome! So I get what recipe schema is. How do I add it to my blog though?
As I mentioned before, the good news for food bloggers is that there are plugins that will help you automatically add schema markup to your blog.
There are a few different plugin options out there that comply with Google’s Structured Data Guidelines:
- Tasty Recipes: First and foremost…the recipe plugin that we built! It’s a lightweight premium plugin that makes it easy to add recipes to your post with the schema markup (JSON-LD) that makes search engines happy.
- WP Recipe Maker: Another super solid recipe plugin with a free and premium option.
If you’re a member, you can find some additional information about choosing the right recipe plugin for you in the Essential Plugins forum or in the Understanding Recipe Plugins course.
If you’re not a member, email your plugin developer to see which markup is used within your plugin.
Yep. There’s lots of other cool stuff you can do with schema markup, but for a food blogger the important thing is using one of these plugins. This will ensure that schema markup is automatically added to your recipes and that the schema markup is compliant with Google.
I have two more questions.
How do you pronounce schema?
How do your pronounce Bjork?
Thanks for sharing this virtual coffee conversation with me. 🙂 If you have any other questions hop on over to the community forum or leave a comment below.