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A Complete Guide To Local Markup & Rich Results

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A Complete Guide To Local Markup & Rich Results

How important is schema markup for local search engine optimization (SEO)?

Most local SEO experts and webmasters are familiar with the impact of having well-optimized SEO elements on their landing pages, such as optimized title tags, well-written content, and more.

However, what exactly can you accomplish by applying schema markup to your local business website?

Quite a bit, actually.

When it comes to organic search, there are several reasons why having a proper and thorough schema applied to your website is a substantial competitive advantage.

In fact, it’s been reiterated by Google time and time again that schema helps search crawlers do their job more effectively by helping them comprehend a landing page and delivering relevant information in the SERPs.

In this post, we will share a few recommendations to help your local business get the most out of using schema to boost your local SEO.

First, let’s start with defining what exactly schema markup is.

The Difference Between Schema, Structured Data & Rich Results

The terms “structured data” and “schema” are often used interchangeably in webmaster and SEO verticals.

However, before we dive into the recommendations it’s helpful to know the semantic differences between these terms.

Structured Data

Google defines structured data as “a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content.”

To put it simply, this format was developed to help search engines accurately understand a webpage to properly display snippets of information in the search results pages.

Schema

Schema is a form of structured data that was officially launched via schema.org.

Schema was created via a collaborative project by all the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex) in 2011.

Utilizing the markup available on schema.org enables a landing page to be eligible for rich results.

Rich Results

Rich results (formerly called rich snippets) are any extra information you see in the search engine results pages (SERPs) that are beyond the atypical blue title tag and meta description (breadcrumbs, review stars, sitelinks, etc.).

Google provides two tools to audit structured data on your website: the Schema Markup Validator and the Rich Results Test.

Below are a few examples of local businesses that are benefitting from rich results:

Review Rich Results Example

Image from Google, May 2022Review Rich Results

Breadcrumb Rich Results Example

Breadcrumb rich resultsImage from Google, May 2022Breadcrumb rich results

Sitelink Rich Results Example

Sitelink Rich Results exampleImage from Google, May 2022Sitelink Rich Results example

FAQ Rich Results Example

FAQ Rich Results exampleImage from Google, May 2022FAQ Rich Results example

Is Structured Data A Local Ranking Signal?

There has been much debate over the years about whether or not structured data in itself is a search engine ranking signal.

Prominent Google engineer John Mueller has specified more than once that structured data by itself is not a direct search engine ranking signal.

However, structured data indirectly improves search engine visibility through the following means.

Structured Data Helps Search Engine Crawlers Better Comprehend Landing Pages

Properly and thoroughly implemented structured data makes the search crawler’s job easier.

A good analogy would be comparing website properties (content, images, media files, etc.) to a garage full of various boxes and items (snow shovel for the winter, inflatable pool for the summer, etc.).

Let’s say you are having a garage sale and you want visitors (i.e. more website visitors).

It’s Google’s job to advertise your garage sale on the search results pages.

For most websites, Google provides the bare minimum blue title tag and meta descriptions.

However, if your website is properly marked up with structured data then Google may very well reward your websites with a bigger advertisement (i.e. rich results) about your garage sale.

Structured data essentially puts labels on the different objects in your garage making the Google search crawler’s job easier.

Structured Data Improves The Possibility Of Obtaining Rich Results Which Improves Click-through Rates

A rich result is much more eye-catching in the search results and will most likely improve CTR (click-through rates).

The CTR boost can vary depending on what kind of rich result is obtained, for example, FAQ results do very well.

This means your landing page is receiving more traffic because users are seeing relevant snippets about what it contains.

There is also some debate that increased CTR might be a positive SEO signal in itself (signals more engagement & relevancy).

Either way, having an improved CTR means more traffic wherever your website ranks.

What Structured Data Is Recommended For Local Business Websites?

Most local websites have at least some basic structured data enabled.

However, the more thorough and detailed structured data is properly applied the better.

Next, we’ll offer some step-by-step recommendations for how to properly apply structured data:

Select The Best Schema.org Category

Schema.org provides several different schema property options that are uniquely relevant for local businesses.

In order to have necessary local business schema properties (which will be discussed further in detail below), it is imperative to select the most relevant schema category for your local business.

For example, if you are promoting an ice cream chain, the most relevant category is schema.org/IceCreamShop.

If you are trying to promote a local hardware chain then you’d select schema.org/HardwareStore.

Relevant schema categories will help Google better topically understand your website.

What If There Are No Relevant Schema Categories For My Local Business?

If you can’t find a schema.org category that is relevant for your business then the default category should be schema.org/LocalBusiness.

If you’re technically inclined, it is possible to post new schema category recommendations on the schema.org Github forum.

The schema.org developers respond to detailed recommendations on this forum and occasionally create new schema.org properties.

I Selected The Most Accurate Category So What Should I Implement?

After you’ve selected the appropriate category for your business you must have the below schema.org sub-properties to ensure your schema validates.

Errors could disqualify you from obtaining rich results.

The below schema properties are required for validation:

  • Url: The URL of the associated landing page.
  • Name: Name of the business.
  • OpeningHours: Opening and closing hours of a business.
  • Telephone: Contact telephone number for the business.
  • Image: This can be any relevant image file on your landing page.  It is recommended to use a storefront image if that’s available.
  • Logo: This should be a link to your business logo image.
  • Address: The business address which should be visible on the landing page.
  • Geo: This is the geo coordinates of your business location.
  • AreaServed: It is recommended to use a zipcode for this schema property.
  • MainContentOfPage: Main body content of your landing page.

Common schema properties that are highly recommended:

  • Review: A review of your local business.
  • AggregrateRating: The overall rating, based on a collection of reviews or ratings, of the item.  Make sure to follow Google’s rules on Review Rich Results on this.
  • FAQPage: If you have a FAQ page it is imperative to add this specialty schema. Make sure to follow Google’s rules and guidelines.
  • AlternateName: Businesses commonly have related names e.g. Acme Stores vs. Acme Inc. The alternateName property marks up other well-known corporate name variations (including abbreviations).
  • SameAs: This is a reference to a 3rd party websites that are related to the website’s identity i.e. Facebook pages, Youtube Channel pages, Wikipedia pages, etc.
  • HasMap: A URL to the map of your local business.
  • Breadcrumb: This schema marks up the existing breadcrumb navigation structure on your website. This schema is highly recommended because it often appears in the SERPS as a rich result.
  • Department: Many chain retailers have internal departments (e.g. pharmacies inside grocery stores). This specialty schema helps markup these department stores.
  • PriceRange: The price range of the business, for example, $$$.

More advanced schema types:

  • Sitelinks Search Box: A sitelinks search box is a quick way for users to do an internal search on your website via the Google SERP vs. visiting your website directly.
  • AdditionalType: This is a specialty schema that helps Google understand what your website is topically related to. This can be accomplished by using Wikipedia categories as values for this property. For example, if a local business sells sporting gear it is recommended to have the additionalType property  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sports_equipment.

How Do You Make Sure Your Structured Data Is Validated?

It is very important to make sure your structured data is properly validated.

If it’s not then your landing page will most likely not qualify for rich results.

Google specifically says that if there are error(s): The rich result cannot appear in Google Search as a rich result.

As mentioned earlier there are two different tools to make sure your schema is properly validated: Schema Markup Validator and the Rich Results Test.

Google Search Console also provides enhancement reports on structured data which will be explained in further detail below.

Schema Markup Validator

The Schema Markup Validator enables you to get into the details of structured data itself.

It shows both errors and warnings.

It also allows you to test structured data before it’s enabled on your webpages via pasting code directly into the tool.

Example Of Schema Markup Validator Result

Example of Schema Markup Validator ResultImage from Schema Markup Validator, May 2022Example of Schema Markup Validator Result

Also just to note that while it’s imperative to correct structured data errors you will also often see structured “warnings.”

These warnings are of much lesser concern and Google’s John Muller even mentioned you don’t have to fix all warnings.

A lot of sites have earnings with structured data and that’s perfectly fine.

Rich Results Test

The Rich Results Test is Google’s official tool to see which rich results can be generated by structured data.

This tool also lets you preview how rich results will look in Google SERPs.

Example Of Rich Results Test Preview

Rich Results Test PreviewImage from Rich Result test tool, May 2022Rich Results Test Preview

The Rich Result test tool will report structured data errors and warnings as well.

As mentioned earlier, warnings are common and won’t prevent rich results from appearing.

However, structured data errors must be resolved to qualify for rich results.

Structured Data Monitoring Via Google Search Console

Google also offers sitewide structured data monitoring via Google Search Console.

It is highly recommended to have a verified Google Search Console account for your local business website to enable monitoring.

Google Search Console will provide sitewide enhancement reports on how many webpages have validated structured data, warnings, and errors.

Google also sends notification emails if there are issues with structured data on your local business website.

It is recommended to pay attention to these notifications.

Example Of Sitewide Structured Data Report

Example of Sitewide Structured Data ReportImage from Google Search Console, May 2022Example of Sitewide Structured Data Report

How Can I Tell How Many Rich Results My Website Is Getting In The SERPs?

Besides spot-checking rich results, it would be ideal to see how well a local business website is performing across all the Google SERPs.

There are few third-party SEO tools that scrape Google SERPs and provide reports.

One notable tool, Semrush, has a “SERP Feature” report that shows how many aggregate rich results your website is getting.

Example Of Semrush SERP Feature Report

SERP featuresImage from Semrush, May 2022SERP features

Is There Anything I Should Avoid When Using Structured Data?

Structured data is meant to be code to label or markup existing properties on your local business website.

Google explicitly requires that your structured data matches what is on the associated landing page.

However, structured data spam does exist and Google can apply manual penalties if they believe a webmaster is egregiously breaking the rules.

Make sure to follow Google’s structured data guidelines carefully.

Conclusion

There is no drawback in applying properly formatted and relevant structured data to your local business’ website.

Also, schema.org is continually coming out with new schema properties along with more integration via Google Search Console.

Most common SEO strategies (meta tag optimization, custom copywriting, design changes, etc.) usually require significant effort and visible on-page website updates.

In comparison, structured data updates are invisible to users visiting your website.

They also don’t require any direct changes to anything on your website besides including a new source code script.

They also have great potential to substantially improve visibility in the Google SERPs via rich results.

If you’re a local business looking to further optimize your website make sure to visit schema.org along with a webmaster to start applying structured data.

More resources:


Featured Image: Hangouts Vector Pro/Shutterstock

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The 6 Biggest SEO Challenges You’ll Face in 2024

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The 6 Biggest SEO Challenges You'll Face in 2024

Seen any stressed-out SEOs recently? If so, that’s because they’ve got their work cut out this year.

Between navigating Google’s never-ending algorithm updates, fighting off competitors, and getting buy-in for projects, there are many significant SEO challenges to consider.

So, which ones should you focus on? Here are the six biggest ones I think you should pay close attention to.

Make no mistake—Google’s algorithm updates can make or break your site.

Core updates, spam updates, helpful content updates—you name it, they can all impact your site’s performance.

As we can see below, the frequency of Google updates has increased in recent years, meaning that the likelihood of being impacted by a Google update has also increased.

How to deal with it:

Recovering from a Google update isn’t easy—and sometimes, websites that get hit by updates may never fully recover.

For the reasons outlined above, most businesses try to stay on the right side of Google and avoid incurring Google’s wrath.

SEOs do this by following Google’s Search Essentials, SEO best practices and avoiding risky black hat SEO tactics. But sadly, even if you think you’ve done this, there is no guarantee that you won’t get hit.

If you suspect a website has been impacted by a Google update, the fastest way to check is to plug the domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

Ahrefs Site Explorer screenshotAhrefs Site Explorer screenshot

Here’s an example of a website likely affected by Google’s August 2023 Core Update. The traffic drop started on the update’s start date.

Website impacted by Google's August 2023 Core UpdateWebsite impacted by Google's August 2023 Core Update
Hover over the G circles on the X axis to get information about each update.

From this screen, you can see if a drop in traffic correlates with a Google update. If there is a strong correlation, then that update may have hit the site. To remedy it, you will need to understand the update and take action accordingly.

Follow SEO best practices

It’s important your website follows SEO best practices so you can understand why it has been affected and determine what you need to do to fix things.

For example, you might have missed significant technical SEO issues impacting your website’s traffic. To rule this out, it’s worth using Site Audit to run a technical crawl of your website.

Site Audit screenshot, via Ahrefs Site AuditSite Audit screenshot, via Ahrefs Site Audit

Monitor the latest SEO news

In addition to following best practices, it’s a good idea to monitor the latest SEO news. You can do this through various social media channels like X or LinkedIn, but I find the two websites below to be some of the most reliable sources of SEO news.

Even if you escape Google’s updates unscathed, you’ve still got to deal with your competitors vying to steal your top-ranking keywords from right under your nose.

This may sound grim, but it’s a mistake to underestimate them. Most of the time, they’ll be trying to improve their website’s SEO just as much as you are.

And these days, your competitors will:

How to deal with it:

If you want to stay ahead of your competitors, you need to do these two things:

Spy on your competitors and monitor their strategy

Ok, so you don’t have to be James Bond, but by using a tool like Ahrefs Site Explorer and our Google Looker Studio Integration (GLS), you can extract valuable information and keep tabs on your competitors, giving you a competitive advantage in the SERPs.

Using a tool like Site Explorer, you can use the Organic Competitors report to understand the competitor landscape:

Organic competitors screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerOrganic competitors screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can check out their Organic traffic performance across the years:

Year on Year comparison of organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerYear on Year comparison of organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can use Calendar to see which days changes in Positions, Pages, Referring domains Backlinks occurred:

Screenshot of Ahrefs' Calendar, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerScreenshot of Ahrefs' Calendar, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can see their Top pages’ organic traffic and Organic keywords:

Top pages report, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerTop pages report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

And much, much more.

If you want to monitor your most important competitors more closely, you can even create a dashboard using Ahrefs’ GLS integration.

Google Looker Studio integration screenshot,Google Looker Studio integration screenshot,

Acquire links and create content that your competitors can’t recreate easily

Once you’ve done enough spying, it’s time to take action.

Links and content are the bread and butter for many SEOs. But a lot of the time the links that are acquired and the content that is created just aren’t that great.

So, to stand the best chance of maintaining your rankings, you need to work on getting high-quality backlinks and producing high-quality content that your competitors can’t easily recreate.

It’s easy to say this, but what does it mean in practice?

The best way to create this type of content is to create deep content.

At Ahrefs, we do this by running surveys, getting quotes from industry experts, running data studies, creating unique illustrations or diagrams, and generally fine-tuning our content until it is the best it can be.

As if competing against your competitors wasn’t enough, you must also compete against Google for clicks.

As Google not-so-subtly transitions from a search engine to an answer engine, it’s becoming more common for it to supply the answer to search queries—rather than the search results themselves.

The result is that even the once top-performing organic search websites have a lower click-through rate (CTR) because they’re further down the page—or not on the first page.

Whether you like it or not, Google is reducing traffic to your website through two mechanisms:

  • AI overviews – Where Google generates an answer based on sources on the internet
  • Zero-click searches – Where Google shows the answer in the search results

With AI overviews, we can see that the traditional organic search results are not visible.

And with zero-click searches, Google supplies the answer directly in the SERP, so the user doesn’t have to click anything unless they want to know more.

Zero Click searches example, via Google.comZero Click searches example, via Google.com

These features have one thing in common: They are pushing the organic results further down the page.

With AI Overviews, even when links are included, Kevin Indig’s AI overviews traffic impact study suggests that AI overviews will reduce organic clicks.

In this example below, shared by Aleyda, we can see that even when you rank organically in the number one position, it doesn’t mean much if there are Ads and an AI overview with the UX with no links in the AI overview answer; it just perpetuates the zero-clicks model through the AI overview format.

How to deal with it:

You can’t control how Google changes the SERPs, but you can do two things:

Make your website the best it can be

If you focus on the latter, your website will naturally become more authoritative over time. This isn’t a guarantee that your website will be included in the AI overview, but it’s better than doing nothing.

Prevent Google from showing your website in an AI Overview

If you want to be excluded from Google’s AI Overviews, Google says you can add no snippet to prevent your content from appearing in AI Overviews.

nosnippet code explanation screemshot, via Google's documentationnosnippet code explanation screemshot, via Google's documentation

One of the reasons marketers gravitated towards Google in the early days was that it was relatively easy to set up a website and get traffic.

Recently, there have been a few high-profile examples of smaller websites that have been impacted by Google:

Apart from the algorithmic changes, I think there are two reasons for this:

  • Large authoritative websites with bigger budgets and SEO teams are more likely to rank well in today’s Google
  • User-generated content sites like Reddit and Quora have been given huge traffic boosts from Google, which has displaced smaller sites from the SERPs that used to rank for these types of keyword queries

Here’s Reddit’s traffic increase over the last year:

Reddit's organic traffic increase, via Ahrefs Site ExplorerReddit's organic traffic increase, via Ahrefs Site Explorer

And here’s Quora’s traffic increase:

Quora's organic traffic increase, via Ahrefs Site ExplorerQuora's organic traffic increase, via Ahrefs Site Explorer

How to deal with it:

There are three key ways I would deal with this issue in 2024:

Focus on targeting the right keywords using keyword research

Knowing which keywords to target is really important for smaller websites. Sadly, you can’t just write about a big term like “SEO” and expect to rank for it in Google.

Use a tool like Keywords Explorer to do a SERP analysis for each keyword you want to target. Use the effort-to-reward ratio to ensure you are picking the right keyword battles:

Effort to reward ratio illustrationEffort to reward ratio illustration

If you’re concerned about Reddit, Quora, or other UGC sites stealing your clicks, you can also use Keywords Explorer to target SERPs where these websites aren’t present.

To do this:

  • Enter your keyword in the search bar and head to the matching terms report
  • Click on the SERP features drop-down box
  • Select Not on SERP and select Discussions and forums
Example of removing big UGC sites from keyword searches using filters in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerExample of removing big UGC sites from keyword searches using filters in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

This method can help you find SERPs where these types of sites are not present.

Build more links to become more authoritative

Another approach you could take is to double down on the SEO basics and start building more high-quality backlinks.

Write deep content

Most SEOs are not churning out 500-word blog posts and hoping for the best; equally, the content they’re creating is often not deep or the best it can possibly be.

This is often due to time restraints, budget and inclination. But to be competitive in the AI era, deep content is exactly what you should be creating.

As your website grows, the challenge of maintaining the performance of your content portfolio gets increasingly more difficult.

And what may have been an “absolute banger” of an article in 2020 might not be such a great article now—so you’ll need to update it to keep the clicks rolling in.

So how can you ensure that your content is the best it can be?

How to deal with it:

Here’s the process I use:

Steal this content updating framework

And here’s a practical example of this in action:

Use Page Inspect with Overview to identify pages that need updating

Here’s an example of an older article Michal Pecánek wrote that I recently updated. Using Page Inspect, we can pinpoint the exact date of the update was on May 10, 2024, with no other major in the last year.

Ahrefs Page Inspect screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerAhrefs Page Inspect screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

According to Ahrefs, this update almost doubled the page’s organic traffic, underlining the value of updating old content. Before the update, the content had reached its lowest performance ever.

Example of a content update and the impact on organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerExample of a content update and the impact on organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

So, what changed to casually double the traffic? Clicking on Page Inspect gives us our answer.

Page Inspect detail screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerPage Inspect detail screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

I was focused on achieving three aims with this update:

  • Keeping Michal’s original framework for the post intact
  • Making the content as concise and readable as it can be
  • Refreshing the template (the main draw of the post) and explaining how to use the updated version in a beginner-friendly way to match the search intent

Getting buy-in for SEO projects has never been easy compared to other channels. Unfortunately, this meme perfectly describes my early days of agency life.

SEO meme, SEO vs PPC budgetsSEO meme, SEO vs PPC budgets

SEO is not an easy sell—either internally or externally to clients.

With companies hiring fewer SEO roles this year, the appetite for risk seems lower than in previous years.

SEO can also be slow to take impact, meaning getting buy-in for projects is harder than other channels.

How long does SEO take illustrationHow long does SEO take illustration

How to deal with it:

My colleague Despina Gavoyannis has written a fantastic article about how to get SEO buy-in, here is a summary of her top tips:

  • Find key influencers and decision-makers within the organization, starting with cross-functional teams before approaching executives. (And don’t forget the people who’ll actually implement your changes—developers.)
  • Adapt your language and communicate the benefits of SEO initiatives in terms that resonate with different stakeholders’ priorities.
  • Highlight the opportunity costs of not investing in SEO by showing the potential traffic and revenue being missed out on using metrics like Ahrefs’ traffic value.
  • Collaborate cross-functionally by showing how SEO can support other teams’ goals, e.g. helping the editorial team create content that ranks for commercial queries.

And perhaps most important of all: build better business cases and SEO opportunity forecasts.

If you just want to show the short-term trend for a keyword, you can use Keywords Explorer:

Forecasting feature for keywords, via Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerForecasting feature for keywords, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer
The forecasted trend is shown in orange as a dotted line.

If you want to show the Traffic potential of a particular keyword, you can use our Traffic potential metric in SERP overview to gauge this:

Traffic potential example, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerTraffic potential example, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

And if you want to go the whole hog, you can create an SEO forecast. You can use a third-party tool to create a forecast, but I recommend you use Patrick Stox’s SEO forecasting guide.

Final thoughts

Of all the SEO challenges mentioned above, the one keeping SEOs awake at night is AI.

It’s swept through our industry like a hurricane, presenting SEOs with many new challenges. The SERPs are changing, competitors are using AI tools, and the bar for creating basic content has been lowered, all thanks to AI.

If you want to stay competitive, you need to arm yourself with the best SEO tools and search data on the market—and for me, that always starts with Ahrefs.

Got questions? Ping me on X.



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Why Now’s The Time To Adopt Schema Markup

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Why Now's The Time To Adopt Schema Markup

There is no better time for organizations to prioritize Schema Markup.

Why is that so, you might ask?

First of all, Schema Markup (aka structured data) is not new.

Google has been awarding sites that implement structured data with rich results. If you haven’t taken advantage of rich results in search, it’s time to gain a higher click-through rate from these visual features in search.

Secondly, now that search is primarily driven by AI, helping search engines understand your content is more important than ever.

Schema Markup allows your organization to clearly articulate what your content means and how it relates to other things on your website.

The final reason to adopt Schema Markup is that, when done correctly, you can build a content knowledge graph, which is a critical enabler in the age of generative AI. Let’s dig in.

Schema Markup For Rich Results

Schema.org has been around since 2011. Back then, Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex worked together to create the standardized Schema.org vocabulary to enable website owners to translate their content to be understood by search engines.

Since then, Google has incentivized websites to implement Schema Markup by awarding rich results to websites with certain types of markup and eligible content.

Websites that achieve these rich results tend to see higher click-through rates from the search engine results page.

In fact, Schema Markup is one of the most well-documented SEO tactics that Google tells you to do. With so many things in SEO that are backward-engineered, this one is straightforward and highly recommended.

You might have delayed implementing Schema Markup due to the lack of applicable rich results for your website. That might have been true at one point, but I’ve been doing Schema Markup since 2013, and the number of rich results available is growing.

Even though Google deprecated how-to rich results and changed the eligibility of FAQ rich results in August 2023, it introduced six new rich results in the months following – the most new rich results introduced in a year!

These rich results include vehicle listing, course info, profile page, discussion forum, organization, vacation rental, and product variants.

There are now 35 rich results that you can use to stand out in search, and they apply to a wide range of industries such as healthcare, finance, and tech.

Here are some widely applicable rich results you should consider utilizing:

  • Breadcrumb.
  • Product.
  • Reviews.
  • JobPosting.
  • Video.
  • Profile Page.
  • Organization.

With so many opportunities to take control of how you appear in search, it’s surprising that more websites haven’t adopted it.

A statistic from Web Data Commons’ October 2023 Extractions Report showed that only 50% of pages had structured data.

Of the pages with JSON-LD markup, these were the top types of entities found.

  • http://schema.org/ListItem (2,341,592,788 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/ImageObject (1,429,942,067 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/Organization (907,701,098 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/BreadcrumbList (817,464,472 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/WebSite (712,198,821 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/WebPage (691,208,528 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/Offer (623,956,111 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/SearchAction (614,892,152 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/Person (582,460,344 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/EntryPoint (502,883,892 Entities)

(Source: October 2023 Web Data Commons Report)

Most of the types on the list are related to the rich results mentioned above.

For example, ListItem and BreadcrumbList are required for the Breadcrumb Rich Result, SearchAction is required for Sitelink Search Box, and Offer is required for the Product Rich Result.

This tells us that most websites are using Schema Markup for rich results.

Even though these Schema.org types can help your site achieve rich results and stand out in search, they don’t necessarily tell search engines what each page is about in detail and help your site be more semantic.

Help AI Search Engines Understand Your Content

Have you ever seen your competitor’s sites using specific Schema.org Types that are not found in Google’s structured data documentation (i.e. MedicalClinic, IndividualPhysician, Service, etc)?

The Schema.org vocabulary has over 800 types and properties to help websites explain what the page is about. However, Google’s structured data features only require a small subset of these properties for websites to be eligible for a rich result.

Many websites that solely implement Schema Markup to get rich results tend to be less descriptive with their Schema Markup.

AI search engines now look at the meaning and intent behind your content to provide users with more relevant search results.

Therefore, organizations that want to stay ahead should use more specific Schema.org types and leverage appropriate properties to help search engines better understand and contextualize their content. You can be descriptive with your content while still achieving rich results.

For example, each type (e.g. Article, Person, etc.) in the Schema.org vocabulary has 40 or more properties to describe the entity.

The properties are there to help you fully describe what the page is about and how it relates to other things on your website and the web. In essence, it’s asking you to describe the entity or topic of the page semantically.

The word ‘semantic’ is about understanding the meaning of language.

Note that the word “understanding” is part of the definition. Funny enough, in October 2023, John Mueller at Google released a Search Update video. In this six-minute video, he leads with an update on Schema Markup.

For the first time, Mueller described Schema Markup as “a code you can add to your web pages, which search engines can use to better understand the content. ”

While Mueller has historically spoken a lot about Schema Markup, he typically talked about it in the context of rich result eligibility. So, why the change?

This shift in thinking about Schema Markup for enhanced search engine understanding makes sense. With AI’s growing role and influence in search, we need to make it easy for search engines to consume and understand the content.

Take Control Of AI By Shaping Your Data With Schema Markup

Now, if being understood and standing out in search is not a good enough reason to get started, then doing it to help your enterprise take control of your content and prepare it for artificial intelligence is.

In February 2024, Gartner published a report on “30 Emerging Technologies That Will Guide Your Business Decisions,”  highlighting generative AI and knowledge graphs as critical emerging technologies companies should invest in within the next 0-1 years.

Knowledge graphs are collections of relationships between entities defined using a standardized vocabulary that enables new knowledge to be gained by way of inferencing.

Good news! When you implement Schema Markup to define and connect the entities on your site, you are creating a content knowledge graph for your organization.

Thus, your organization gains a critical enabler for generative AI adoption while reaping its SEO benefits.

Learn more about building content knowledge graphs in my article, Extending Your Schema Markup From Rich Results to Knowledge Graphs.

We can also look at other experts in the knowledge graph field to understand the urgency of implementing Schema Markup.

In his LinkedIn post, Tony Seale, Knowledge Graph Architect at UBS in the UK, said,

“AI does not need to happen to you; organizations can shape AI by shaping their data.

It is a choice: We can allow all data to be absorbed into huge ‘data gravity wells’ or we can create a network of networks, each of us connecting and consolidating our data.”

The “networks of networks” Seale refers to is the concept of knowledge graphs – the same knowledge graph that can be built from your web data using semantic Schema Markup.”

The AI revolution has only just begun, and there is no better time than now to shape your data, starting with your web content through the implementation of Schema Markup.

Use Schema Markup As The Catalyst For AI

In today’s digital landscape, organizations must invest in new technology to keep pace with the evolution of AI and search.

Whether your goal is to stand out on the SERP or ensure your content is understood as intended by Google and other search engines, the time to implement Schema Markup is now.

With Schema Markup, SEO pros can become heroes, enabling generative AI adoption through content knowledge graphs while delivering tangible benefits, such as increased click-through rates and improved search visibility.

More resources: 


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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

Google removed the Covid-era structured data associated with the Home Activities rich results that allowed online events to be surfaced in search since August 2020, publishing a mention of the removal in the search documentation changelog.

Home Activities Rich Results

The structured data for the Home Activities rich results allowed providers of online livestreams, pre-recorded events and online events to be findable in Google Search.

The original documentation has been completely removed from the Google Search Central webpages and now redirects to a changelog notation that explains that the Home Activity rich results is no longer available for display.

The original purpose was to allow people to discover things to do from home while in quarantine, particularly online classes and events. Google’s rich results surfaced details of how to watch, description of the activities and registration information.

Providers of online events were required to use Event or Video structured data. Publishers and businesses who have this kind of structured data should be aware that this kind of rich result is no longer surfaced but it’s not necessary to remove the structured data if it’s a burden, it’s not going to hurt anything to publish structured data that isn’t used for rich results.

The changelog for Google’s official documentation explains:

“Removing home activity documentation
What: Removed documentation on home activity structured data.

Why: The home activity feature no longer appears in Google Search results.”

Read more about Google’s Home Activities rich results:

Google Announces Home Activities Rich Results

Read the Wayback Machine’s archive of Google’s original announcement from 2020:

Home activities

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