By Carrie-ann | Jul 13, 2015 | Do It Yourself, Google news, Internet Marketing, SEO

A Warning To Those Using Structured Schema Markup

Has your business been penalised for misuse of Schema Markup?  Businesses seem to have caught on to the benefits of using Structured Schema Markup. But just as with linkbuilding it’s possible to have too much for a good thing.  In other words, it can be misused. Misused to the extent it attracts a Google penalty.  This was evident with Google’s May Quality Update which hit some sites with Structured Data penalties. Website owners were notified via the Google Search Console – previously known as Webmaster Tools. It appears some of you missed an update of Google’s policy on using Rich Snippets. If you use structured data Markup now is the time to check whether you comply with current best practice.

Structured Schema Markup is still helpful in improving the visibility of your content in the organic search results.  Nothing has changed there. However, it needs to be used with a light touch complying with Google’s current guidelines on Rich Snippets. Offences might include marking up content that’s invisible to searchers or irrelevant content. Penalties can be manual or algorithmic, applied to an entire website or specific pages.

Let me repeat. The purpose of using Schema Markup hasn’t changed. It continues to help Google find great content. Content that might appear in the Knowledge Graph or generate Rich Snippets. But it shouldn’t be used in ways Google considers spammy. For the avoidance of doubt there’s a right way and a wrong way to implement it.

Best Practice Principles For Using Structured Schema Markup

  1. Do not use Structured Schema Mark Up if you’re not able to monitor updates to Google’s policies. Updates appear first on Google’s Webmaster Blog which in any case is essential reading for any business with an online presence.
  2. Compare any existing Markup against Google’s guidelines then make any necessary changes. If you are uncertain of what this involves bring in professional help.
  3. Test new and current Markup using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
  4. Correct any errors found during testing.
  5. Going forward, monitor the Structured Data Report in your Google Search Console.

When Things Go Wrong With Schema Markup

Don’t for a minute assume if you’ve not received a penalty notice from Google there’s nothing to worry about. Can you still find evidence of all your rich snippets in the search results? I encourage my clients to carry out periodic checks. If you can’t find them or if there are issues identified within your site’s Structured Data Report, you need to investigate further.
Drill down in the Structured Data Report to find the pages generating errors. Problematic Markup should then be compared with Google’s current guidelines. Make the appropriate changes and test with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

If you’ve corrected errors as a result of a penalty, the next step would be to send Google a Reconsideration Request.

Staying On The Right Side Of Google

One of the messages I want to get across is the importance of monitoring your business’s online presence.  I don’t mean just Schema Markup implementation. Monitoring Google’s Webmasters Blog and your analytics should result in activity designed to protect and improve your business’s online visibility. If this can’t be achieved inhouse, consider informed outside help. I encourage my clients to think of it as an additional form of reassurance.