Schema – Schema – Schema, What’s a Webmaster To Do?

CrystalVision was recently asked about the project and whether it is a good thing for SEO. The answer is yes, yes, no, yes, no and no.

The project is the use and development of tools to help identify more precisely what a web page’s content is about without relying on metadata. Metadata – also known as meta tags — have been widely used and unfortunately misused for marketing gain, and subsequently they often do not contain reliable information. The project, while it relies also on added files such as RDFA, rich snippets and microdata card feeds to describe more accurately what a page is about, is currently held in higher regard for accuracy.

The question was innocent enough, but the complete answer has many layers:

Is programming with schema in mind a good idea? Yes.
Will marketing and SEO firms begin to utilize this to their benefit? Yes.
Will standards help your site rank better? No.
Will applying standards help your site overall? Yes.
Should every site employ the schema standards? No.
Have we seen any examples of these standards fully implemented? No.

We’ve already answered the initial question (yes, it is a good thing), but will it benefit SEO and enhance the total site experience? The answer is yes with a caveat. Like a teaspoon of sugar makes a drink sweeter, adding more and more until you get syrup will be the result with overuse of these tools as they trigger penalties or are avoided like meta tags are today.

Whether the standards will help your site rank better is a no with a caveat as well. If your goal is to rank better, then you’ll also take into consideration a large number of other factors aside from this tool. As a stand-alone solution, this will not help your site rank better than a well-crafted, clean-coded page will.

Although it won’t help your site rank better, will it help your site overall? Yes it will. Adding a strategic piece of data to your sales vehicle will help overall performance. That being the case, why wouldn’t you employ this on every site and as much as possible? These tools (for the most part, as there are always exceptions) are assistants to spiders and bots in helping to quickly determine the meat of the page in question.

Let’s look at this page about Schema as an example.  Source code here shows a total of 42,636 characters to the programming (no spaces). Highlighting just the content of the page/article was 3,962 characters. Actual on-page content represented 9.29% of the total programming. Less than 10% of the page contained what you want spidered and indexed. Without tools like proposes, it becomes difficult to decipher what is important content and what isn’t. Manipulation of include files, object placement, and the hierarchy of display are all “tricks of the trade” to lead spiders to the content to be indexed.

The code also reveals 142 “http” references. None are maximized to the best possible SEO standards either. With as many links being pulled in as pushed out, not one had a nofollow/noindex tag attached. I think of using nofollow/noindex like “reverse link sculpting”, or getting more link juice from your own site links by disabling the others. Why passively allow a potential spider to wander away? If you removed the massive attack of links drawing attention away from the page, you could get the content ratio up to at least 50% without sacrificing design and therefore would not need a tool to help the spider locate the material you’re presenting.

If your design requires 100+ links to function properly and the total message you wish to deliver is less than 10% of the total package, then schema is definitely for you. If your code bloat is so severe that you’re unable to address individual line items, then schema is for you.

While we haven’t seen a page 100% compliant to schema standards, it can’t hurt to delve into the possibility of adding the tools to your toolbox. Who knows, one added sale with it might pay for the effort in acquiring the technology. And while we’re under the hood, maybe we can add some link juice to boost performance.

This entry was posted in Search Engine Optimization, Web Development. Bookmark the permalink.