Will using Schema Markup give your site a ranking boost?Discover evidence of using architecture and its potential impact on search rankings.
Schema markup is a type of microdata used to create enhanced descriptions that Google may use as rich snippets in search results.
Essentially, it's a shared vocabulary that enables search engines including Google, Bing, and Yandex to better understand what's on any given web page.
A search engine's ability to understand the content on your page is integral to its ability to match it to relevant queries.
So is architecture a ranking factor?
Let's review the evidence.
Disclaimer: Schema is a ranking factor
In early 2018, Roger Montti wrote about an update to Google's "Introduction to Structured Data" resource:
If you're curious, Google's help resource on how structured data works has changed a bit again - here's what it says today:
"Google search struggles to understand what the page is about.You can help us by including structured data on your pages to give Google clear clues about the meaning of your pages.
Now, Google says "you can help us by using structured data".
The long-standing consensus among SEO professionals is that while patterns are useful, they are not a ranking factor.
However, the aforementioned edits left SEO professionals wondering in 2017 what changed to warrant updating the text.
Evidence of Schema as a ranking factor
Schema.org explains why schema is important for search engines:
"Your web page has an underlying meaning that people understand when they read it.But search engines have limited understanding of what is discussed on these pages.
You can help search engines and other applications better understand your content and present it in a useful, relevant way.
A case study published by Google itself shared the success story of the Rakuten model, which increased search engine traffic by 2017 times after "partnering with Google Search in 2.7 to make their structured data more useful."
Google also noted that the time on the page increased by a factor of 1.5.
More recently, Dixon Jones found in a 2020 experiment that over a one-month period, sites with patterns applied gained twice as many rankings as they lost.
He also found that content-rich pages benefited more than others.
Evidence against using Schema as a ranking factor
In Montti's article, he also mentions a few things Gary Illyes said at Pubcon 2017:
"...Add structural data to your pages, because during the indexing process, we'll be able to better understand your site's content.
“This will help us understand your page better, and indirectly, it will lead to better rankings in the sense that we can rank more easily.
Illier is clear here that the ranking benefits of using patterns are indirect.
When Google better understands which entities appear on the page and what they are about, it makes ranking easier.
Google's John Mueller reiterated that in a 2018 tweet reply to a question, schema is not a ranking factor, where SD = structured data:
So just using schema markup does not improve rankings.
The next question is, does using schema make your site more technically sound and help rank in this way?
In the 2019 Google Webmaster Central Office Hours video, Mueller said.:
"On the one hand, we do use structured data to better understand entities on a page and figure out where that page is more relevant.But that doesn't mean that just because people do things the technically correct way on the site, a page is a better page than the other way around.
We will try to use it (schema) to display it (your page) in more relevant search results, which may bring more users to your page who actually match your page theme.
But that doesn't mean we'll show it to more users, or that it'll rank better.
The idea is too much.
Mueller likens the concept of schema as a ranking factor to the idea of validated HTML as a ranking factor.
Neither factor tells Google that the page is more valuable to the user.
Need more evidence?
In 2020, Google search liaison Danny Sullivan said structured data was optional, adding that it "has no impact on web search rankings."
Schema as a ranking factor: our verdict
Schema does exactly what Google said in its 2011 Schema.org announcement: it improves the way a website is displayed in the major search engines.
Use schemas to:
- via rich snippetsImprove the appearance of search results.
- If Google doesn't know the relevance of your page,then you canDisplayed when you may not have relevant queries.
- Increase time on page, users find more engaging content because you are exposed to more relevant queries.
There's no evidence Google uses it to determine search rankings, but those are good things.
Anything you can do to help Google better understand why your page is the best answer to a relevant query will definitely help support your SEO goals.