E34: Practical Schema implementation: Q+A with Nikola Minkov

E34: Practical Schema implementation: Q+A with Nikola Minkov

Nikola Minkov shares his best tips for implementing Schema

Schema. When I first heard about Schema I could feel the terror from my chest to the bottom of my bottom. What is Schema? Do I really need it? Can’t I just pretend it doesn’t exist?

Lucky for me, all my fears have been allayed as in this week’s pod Nikola Minkov breaks Schema down. We run through the A to Z of Schema, ways you can implement Schema now where you’re a beginner or a pro. If you feel the Schema terror or are simply intrigued and want some solid Schema strategies, this pod is for you.

Tune in to learn:

  • What is Schema?
  • Why is Schema important?
  • What are the benefits of Schema markup?
  • Great Schema plugins
  • Are plugins or manual Schema best?
  • What is Google’s structured data testing tool?
  • Schema troubleshooting
  • Schema Q&A from the digital masterchefs.

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About Nikola

Nikola Minkov is the owner and founder of Serpact SEO Agency. He is more than 6 years in SEO and has worked on many successful projects from many different countries in the world like USA, France, Canada, Germany, UK.

His main focus in SEO is Technical SEO, Google AMP and Structure data, where he is a real expert in marking up almost all elements of a website with Structure data properties. He is a real magician of the SEO Audits too, especially in finding solutions to some very difficult situations and problems in SEO causing partial decrease or significant lost of organic traffic.

Nikola is a regular participant of numerous local and world conferences and master classes for SEO and Digital Marketing both as a lecturer. and visitor

Nikola is Certified for Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Google Digital Garage, Bing, Yahoo, Inbound, and DoubleClick.

Connect with Nikola

Useful resources

Transcript

Hello, my name is Kate Toon and I’m the head chef here at the Recipe for SEO Success, an online teaching hub for all things related to search engine optimization. And I love SEO and today I’m talking to Nikola Minkov. Hello, how are you?

Nikola Minkov:                    Hello Kate, thank you for the invitation. I am fine thanks. I love your podcasts, I appreciate your work for our SEO industry and thanks again for your invitation.

Kate Toon:                              Oh, thanks so much. Well, it’s lovely to have you, lovely to have you. Now Nikola has already very kindly spent some time with my digital master chefs group teaching them schema. So he is the perfect person to have on the show. You may have heard a previous episode we did about schema with Tony McCreath many moons ago. But this is a bit of an update. schema has moved on in the last few years and there’s much more that we can do.

So, first let me introduce you. Nikola is the owner and founder of Serpact SEO Agency. He has more than six years experience in SEO and has worked on more than 500 successful projects from many different countries in the world. His main focus in SEO is technical SEO, Google AMP, structured data, otherwise known as schema and local SEO.

So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to start off by talking about what is schema? People listening to this podcast are at all different levels of their SEO journey. So let’s go back to basics and explain that schema is markup code that you put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. So of course, you can have content on your site about what you sell and what it is, but schema tags that content and creates a direct relationship.

So, for example, Google knows that the price of the jumper, Google knows how many are in stock, Google knows the color. That’s the kind of information that we want to pull out so that Google can display it in a kind of sexy way in the search engine results’ pages. You can use it to display information about your products and your shop, your events, your local business address, movies, restaurants, books, much more.

schema tells the search engine what your data means, just not what it … schema tells search engine, ah. James we’ll have to edit this out. schema tells the search engines what your data means, not just what it says. The content on your website then gets indexed and returned in the search results. So for example, if you wrap schema markup around a price, Google will know that it’s a price and can display that information in a more simple way. So, I hope that was a good explanation.

schema markup basically uses semantics recovery in a micro data format to return results that have more meaning. So, that’s sort of what it is. Nikola, why don’t you take us through why schema is so important.

Nikola Minkov:                    So you have the scale markup scale and or use it in a variety of different ways, from open graft and Twitter markups user to provide specific info like the back door inscription for social networks to marks use it some apps, to marks describing very specific info for the attention of the search’s specific search. You can use structured data for local business products, errands, articles, books, videos, courses, job postings, recipes to TV movies and of course of some reviews of a lot of things.

So created in SEO terms through to data server to help the search engines better understand the content to define points and paste the relevant signals for the website or the info it gives can be presented better in search results. For example, with which results cards, [inaudible 00:05:06], knowledge [inaudible 00:05:08] or probable future sequence.

Kate Toon:                              Fantastic. So, it’s super important and the benefits that you’re going to see if you start adding schema markup to your site, is that because the results are so much richer in the search engine results pages, you’re gonna get improved click through rates. You know, if instead of just a product description, you’ll also have price and availability and star ratings, you’re more likely to get clicks. And that’s what it’s all about, it’s not just about ranking, it’s about getting clicks through to your site. So, the number two advantage, as I said, those rich snippets. You know everyone’s result is pretty basic, but you’ve got all these extra features and elements and stars and widgets. That’s what we want and there is a general feeling that schema can improve your ranking. It kind of might be one of those causation correlation things, but websites using schema markup usually rank higher than those who dong use schema markups.

You probably know that Google is pushing more and more to improving user experience, so having those richer results in the search engines is gonna benefit Google, make Google happy. And we all know, if Google is happy, it’s probably going to impact your ranking as well. But, we would say I think that schema markups are not a direct ranking factor, maybe.

What do you think Nikola? Do you think they’re a direct ranking factor or do you think it’s kind of, just helpful, in general?

Nikola Minkov:                    I think it is not direct ranking factor, but it’s helpful yeah. It’s helped to understand … it’s helped for Google to understand and define the content and structure the content for some webpage or websites. Indirectly, it’s some signal for Google, positive signal for Google.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah, I agree. So, many of the people listening to the podcast have WordPress sites and one of the things we all love about WordPress is that there’s a plugin to do everything. So, if we were to want to implement schema on our WordPress site, which plugins would you recommend?

Nikola Minkov:                    We have a lot of experience of this, I can recommend a few plugins but for a start, you can use free version of JOST. It’s great to markup with free versions website and organization. Embed version, you can add a local business markup and product markup. Another plugin is named [Exschema 00:07:40], you can find others. After the podcast, we’ll publish this. I’d recommend-

Kate Toon:                              Yeah.

Nikola Minkov:                    -both of these.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah, so I think most of us use JOST and that gives you some basic schema. The paid one, you can get a local JOST plugin which will add in, you know, your address and things like that. There is a schema plugin which allows you to add organization schema and persons schema. I mean there’s lot of different plugins. You kinda have to have a play around.

But of course, the easy way to to do it, is to code it manually and I think that’s really where your heart lies. You’re somebody that is much more into kind of manually coding schema, am I right?

Nikola Minkov:                    Yeah. We start to add this manually before a few years, but for if you try to start now, I recommend to use the plugins. It’ll be better for you business to understand how to integrate this and how it works to [inaudible 00:08:42] data.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah.

Nikola Minkov:                    You know, if you start with plugin.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah, if you’re brand new, if you’re a beginner and you’re a bit of a noob, then plugins might be helpful and I would say that, look, schema is at the pointy end of SEO. It’s not like the first thing that most people do. And if you are at all nervous about it, this is one of those things where you would try and find a good developer that can do this for you. And it’s a good question to ask your WordPress developer. When they’re saying, “Oh, yes we do SEO.” Ask them how they implement schema. How do they do it? What type of schema can they implement? And that will throw a lot of people, because most of the WordPress people I know don’t have a clue about schema, they don’t want to touch it, they don’t know anything about it. So, then you’re gonna have to maybe go to a specialist SEO person and again, maybe get them to help you.

Now, of course you can use plugins and manually add schema as well, but you have to be careful, don’t you? Because you can kind of double up sometimes and have multiple tags and things like that, yeah? Is that right?

Nikola Minkov:                    Yeah, it’s right. You can add with some structured data markup manually and you can add with plugins. Both of them, it’s worked, but you must be careful about if you try to markup [inaudible 00:09:59] business manually and with plugin, it’s a problem then and you must use only way to markup.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah, so don’t overdo it. I got a bit carried away with my site and I had about six plugins and manual code and I had to kind of strip it all back.

But, let’s talk about … I’m gonna change the order of the questions a bit here, because I want to talk about Google’s structured markup tool. So, this is a great tool at Google offices. You can find it via Google search console and it enables you to go through your sides and essentially tag elements. So you know, you’re going through maybe some local business structure markup tool, you can tag your phone number, your can tag your address, you can tag your email address and it will then spit out a little lump of code for you, which you can then add to your site. So, it’s pretty sexy.

Once I’ve spat out that code, Nikola, where do I put it in my site? Say I’m using WordPress site, where should I put that piece of code?

Nikola Minkov:                    Normally, you can add your code in footer PHP for WordPress. This is if you open your administration VP admin, you must go to appearance, editor and footer PHP. You can paste the code under ad codes of the footer PHP. But for open graph and website markup, you must add your coded [inaudible 00:11:23] PHP, but a free version of JOST can do this for you.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah. Great, so ad codes, WordPress, WP Admin, appearance … if you have the editor element there. Sometimes some WordPress developers turn that off, so you can’t see it, cause they don’t want you messing up your PHP files. Open up your footer PHP, post the code in. Nikola gave us a great little tip when we were talking about this in the group. Have two tabs open. So paste it in one, refresh. If it breaks the entire site, just go back to the other one and refresh that one. We’ve all been there, we’ve all done that.

Now, the only problem with the structure data markup tool, is it doesn’t seem to cover all different types of structured data markup. It really … you know, which ones does it cover and which ones doesn’t it cover?

Nikola Minkov:                    Can you repeat?

Kate Toon:                              Sorry, the data … I’ll stop again. The only problem with Google’s structured markup tool is it doesn’t seem to cover all types of structured markup, it only … it’s kind of limited. So, which ones does it cover, which ones doesn’t it cover?

Nikola Minkov:                    So, I can recommend to start to use Google markup testing tool and markup tool, of course. For just for beginner. If you try to add some more specific, like local business with full details, it’s better if you use some plugins or manually add the code.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah, so it’s kind of a beginner tool. It will create, pump out a little basic file for you. If you want to add additional structure data, you’re then gonna have to code that yourself. You can go to schema.org to find the relevant tags and you know, your gonna have to write that code yourself.

And then of course, once you’ve done that, you can pop it through Google’s structured data testing tool. So, our provider linked to all these tools that we’re mentioning in the show, notes for the show. So, once you pop that through there, it will come back and tell you all the errors that it’s found. Everything that’s not quite working and warnings. So, it’s a pretty good tool, isn’t it. You use that one a lot?

Nikola Minkov:                    Yeah, of course. This is the best way to find clear [inaudible 00:13:41] and we must think about rich code results testing too. This is provided by Google again. It’s a very positive tool of course.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah, so that’s the rich results tool and you mentioned that that’s for job postings, recipes, courses, events. So, you kind of use different tools for different structured data. I’ll pop both of those links into the show notes. Now, when people are implementing schema, we’ve got lots of people trying to learn this and want to offer it as a service, they want to implement it on their own sites. Yet, common problems, common issues that come up. One of the ones that comes up a lot in the structured data testing tool is hentry errors. So, lots of people have these. It says missing author, missing updated. So, what does that mean and how … what should we do about it? Does it matter? How should we fix it?

Nikola Minkov:                    It’s not so big problem, but element hentry is the micro format and it is not support by Google. You can’t safely remove this code for this markup. We can give to [inaudible 00:14:55] the link, how to remove this markup.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah, got a link. But, do you think that something like that is going to damage your ranking, is gonna be a big deal, having hentry errors? Is that the end of the world, or is it something we should fix, or how important is that, I guess?

Nikola Minkov:                    It’s not so important. I think Google [inaudible 00:15:16] know about this hentry errors and it isn’t matter. But you can change or replace this markup with article post markup.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah, so it’s kind of an outdated format or a format that Google doesn’t support, micro format. So, yeah. And I think this is it. You need to, this is … when you start getting your errors, you really need to look at how you’ve implemented your structured data. Have you doubled up? Have you got two plugins doing the same thing? Did you tag the wrong thing. Usually, the mistakes are pretty self-explanatory and you know I think it’s going to be fairly obvious that if you’ve messed up your local schema, that could have a big impact, but the odd hentry error, not the end of the world.

Okay, so we’ve got some questions from my digital master chefs group. The first one is from Robin Smart. She uses the schema plugin that you recommended. She says, “Once I’ve installed this, is there anything else we should be doing, or does the plugin kind of take care of most of the work?” I think it’s as with anything, any plugin, you can’t just install it. Yes, you have to kind of go … there are a number of people who just install JOST and go, “I’ve done my SEO.” It’s like, “No, you actually need to go to the settings.”

So, you don’t need to take us through every single settings, but what are some of the important things in the schema plugin that we should be looking at?

Nikola Minkov:                    Yes, you must add some settings in this plugin. You can find in schema settings section your PP admin. There are here a few options, first in general options. There you can add your site tag or to choose your site tag for personal or for organization. And you can add your publisher [inaudible 00:17:01].

After this, you have option for knowledge graph. There you have another options for organization name, website URL address, your logo. You have the option for search results. You can enable your side links to the box and enable your site their. And you can add your social profiles, of course.

If you have your corporate contacts in this section, you can add contact type, telephone number and URL address for your contacts. And then final sections in these settings, you can add about page, contact page, VP header and VP footer. I don’t recommend to add this breadcrumbs. It’s okay, comments, video object and audio object, it’s okay.

Kate Toon:                              Great. Well, I might include that list in the blog post just so people can work through. And there’s a couple of advanced features as well, so delete data or uninstall duplicate features that JOST SEO offers. Would you do both of those? Would you delete those?

Nikola Minkov:                    It’s better if you use only one plugin markup. If you try to use schema plugin, use schema. If you use JOST, you can add another structured data markup manual.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah, yeah. So don’t double up. I think that’s true with all plugins, really.

Nikola Minkov:                    Yeah.

Kate Toon:                              Okay, the next question. It’s a bit of a big question, from Amy Annett says, “How do you add schema to none WordPress sites? Is there a different process?” So, say for example that you’ve got a big commerce site, or a Shopify site, or whatever. And I would say that a lot of these shopping sites already come with a lot of product schema baked into the platform. And obviously, if you’re using real commerce on WordPress, it comes with a lot of product schema, but if you want to add additional schema, I would not be doing … attempting that myself. What are your thought on that Nikola?

Nikola Minkov:                    After 100 broken code, we know the best way is qualified experience [inaudible 00:19:20]. This is the best options if you find some experience [crosstalk 00:19:26].

Kate Toon:                              Like person.

Nikola Minkov:                    Yeah. You can usually actually very useful coding from Alexi Sanders and Max Prinn, we can share this too after the podcast. You can add your information and this plugin generating in the web online, your JSON LD code and you can get, paste in your website. But be careful. It’s better if you give this code to your developer and this is best options.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah, I think this is it. We need to know our limitations. So, we’ll add links to Max Prinn and Alexi Sanders in the podcast. Also Tony McCreath, who was on a previous episode. He’s a structured data whizz, so we will put the names into those people and you can get in touch.

And you mentioned there are different types of structured data markup. Yeah, we probably should have covered this right at the beginning, but we didn’t, sorry. Micro data and JSON and Deidre LeBlanc asks, “Can I use micro data and JSON on the same page?”

Nikola Minkov:                    Yes, you can. But you must use them for different markups, not for the same markups. This is the most important. And you know, the different search engines like Bing and Google use different, very different markups codes. Like we Google data or JSON LD or LDF and if … excuse me, if in your strategy to rank in [inaudible 00:21:08] or you want better results or Bing or Google, you must separate them.

Kate Toon:                              But generally, I’d think for Google, JSON and markup is the best forward. And in Australia, Google has the biggest market share and I think that’s the one that we generally focus on here. The next question from Crystal Wong … I think we’ve already answered, is around structured data markup tool not including all kinds of schema and I think we kind of covered that one off.

Another question from Crystal Wong. So, she wants to add local schema to her site, but what she’s done is, she has different locations, so she’s got a page for each location. I think it’s a kitchen business and they’ve got like different showrooms, in different cities. So, she’s created really nice, you know, detailed, local pages for each of those locations, with images and opening hours. She wants to add local schema to them. So, obviously she can’t add the local schema to the footer or the header, because it’s going to be different for each page. So, where should she add that schema?

Nikola Minkov:                    So, in this case, she must use [inaudible 00:22:16] your schema in body tag. But with JSON that is impossible. She must use micro data or RDF. But then you must put the elements with meta tags, expect their existing in the body itself, like the content. What I mean, if she have the content and the address for every page, she must add with meta tags and markup with micro formats. It’s better way. In her body.

Kate Toon:                              Okay. Yeah. That makes sense. So, she can’t use JSON LD, she has to use micro data, she has to mark it up in the meta tags as well, but she can still put standard bits and bobs for open graph and website markup in the header PHP. But I think again though, this is an example, where for Crystal, whose not a developer, this might be a point where you go, “I can do the standard stuff, but this is getting a bit tricky. Now is the time that I find a developer to help me take it to this next level.” Because you know, messing around with your footer and your PHP files can break your site and then your in a whole world of pain. Well, look Nikola, thank you so much. I know that for those listening, this is possibly one of the more complex episodes and we wanted it to be, we don’t always want to do newbie episodes. I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us today and your time with master chefs group as well, and it’s been lovely to meet you.

Nikola Minkov:                    Thank you so much, I appreciate. Thank you again for this invitation. I love your podcast and I will wait next one.

Kate Toon:                              Yay. Fantastic. Well, don’t forget to leave a review on the iTunes. I’m joking.

 

MUSIC

So, look it’s the end of this week’s show. If you have any questions about schema, head to my I love SEO group on Facebook, or if you feel inclined, join my paid digital master chefs group, where we have experts, like Nikola coming in every week to help us with complex and easy SEO solutions. So, I like to end the show with a shout-out to one of my lovely listeners. And this week it’s Fun87shine and she, or he, says, “Kate teaches you exactly what you need to know in her hilarious Piglet jumper coated way, that’s easy and fun to understand and apply. Her awesome top of the SEO tree guests and industry inside information helps your small biz keep up with the big brands. Subscribe and listen while you work. There is no way you’ll be disappointed.” And there was even a fist pump emoticon at the end.

So, thank you very much and thanks to you for listening. If you do like this show, don’t forget to leave a five-star rating and review. I’m looking at you Nikola. On iTunes and Stitcher. Your review will help other finds the show and learn more about the lovely world of search engine optimization. And you’ll get a shout-out on the show. And also, don’t forget to check out the show notes for this episode at wwww.therecipeforSEOsuccess.com where you can learn more about Nikola, check out the useful links and leave a comment about the show.

And finally, don’t forget to tune into my other podcast, the Hot Copy podcast, a podcast for copywriters and the confessions of a misfit entrepreneur, which you’ll find wherever you found this podcast. So, until next time, happy SEO’ing