Lesson 3: How to find the right schema types for your site

Hey and welcome back. Nice to have you in the third lesson of module my  Structured Data Training Course. In this lesson I want to tell you how to find the right Schema Types for your site.

Links from the video:


I’m Florian, the developer of SNIP, the Rich Snippets and Structured Data Plugin for WordPress. If you want to use the plugin, please feel free to do so.

I’m focusing on Google because it’s the major search engine out there and we all do SEO mostly only for Google, right? That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work for other search engines as well. It just means that Google has it own Guidelines that you need understand in order to get Rich Snippets into your search results. And on this page you can find it.

In the last lesson (“Understand how structured data works“) you have noticed that schema.org is a huge list of things you can use to markup your content. I brought up the Car-Type.

If you write about cars on your posts and you markup your content with the Car-Schema you will notice that in the end, the snippet on search results will not change.

This doesn’t mean that search engines don’t understand what you did. It just means that this particular Schema-Type does not generate a Rich Snippet.

Googles Guidelines

Googles Guidelines tell you exactly what schema types are currently supported. In other words, it tells you, what Schema-Type and what properties you need to use in order to get a certain Rich Snippet.

On that website you can find more information about the functionally itself, too. So you can read about the technical stuff (like the recommend format, that I’ve talked about in the last lesson) and how important Googles Quality Guidelines are.

When do Rich Snippets show up?

There is one question that I get asked over and over and over again. And that is:

When do Rich Snippets show up?

Or: “why do my snippets not showing up?” That is because of Googles Guidelines.

The bad news here is that Google does not guarantee that a Rich Snippet will shop up in search results. Even if you did everything right.

The good news is: if you don’t try to scam Google and stick to their Quality Guidelines as well, the new snippets normally appear within a week or at least when Google crawls your site after you’ve added Structured Data.

But I want to get really clear here: Do not abuse the guidelines. If you do, you risk a penalty and it could be that you’ll never ever get Rich Snippets back for any of your search results.

Supported schema types

Now let’s have a look what schema-types Google supports at the moment.
There are articles, local businesses, music, review, movies, videos and recipes. Can you remember the example from the last lesson? The content was marked up using a recipe and it showed us a picture as well as some other facts about the recipe, like the calories and the total cooking time.

You also see that some of the types require explicit opt-in. So for a Local Business a Rich Snippet do not appear until Google has unlocked it for your site.

Google is known for constantly changing things. So you should definitely keep an eye on this list because it changes every once in a while. But there is another list that I’ll show you in a minute.

As a quick site note: SNIP – My Rich Snippets and Structured Data Plugin for WordPress comes with a neat little feature that allows you to crate a single snippet for all of your posts. It’s called „Global Snippets“ and an Article snippet is active by default after you’ve installed the plugin on your site.
So all the recommended properties for the Article Schema are already there. You don’t need to do anything. It’s just there. However you can work on it and refine it at any time. It’s totally up to you and super easy as well.

So let’s take a look on Googles Reference. You can find it on this URL. If you’re on the podcast right now, you will find the link in the post of this lesson.
In addition to the list on the previous slide, the „Data-Type-Reference“ lists all the Data Types that the search engine supports right now. Plus: It shows you some additional information.

Let’s stick to the Product-Schema that I’ve also used in the previous lessons. The reference for this particular Schema-Type shows us:

  • How a Rich Snippet with this Type could look like on search results
  • It shows some additional guidelines on what you should do an what not
  • It shows which properties are required and which are just recommended. So in this case, the sub-Schema-Type for an „offer“ would require at least the price, the price currency as well as the availability of the item.
  • And last but not least it gives you some handy examples in all the formats that I’ve introduced to you in the last lesson. Of course you will find the JSON-LD format. The format that I recommend to use.

The button underneath every example opens up Googles so called „Structured Data Test Tool“. This is a super handy tool if you want to test your code.

In this tool you can add your custom code on the left side. The button in the middle validates the code and on the right side you’ll get the validation result.

  • If you get errors, the tool suggests what you can do to solve the issue.
  • Plus: there is a handy „Preview“ button that loads this snippet right into the search results so that you can see how it eventually looks like.

Another cool thing is that you cannot only test code. By starting a new test, you can also enter an URL of one of your pages. So in my case that would be rich-snippets.io.

Google then extracts all the structured data that were found on this particular site ans shows it in the validator.

By the way: did you know that you can find the Structured Data Generator – that is the tool that I’ve built-in into SNIP – The Rich Snippets Plugin for WordPress – on my website as well? It’s a reduced version of the generator that is built-in into the plugin and is available for free. So you can generate and test your Structured Data before buying the plugin. Very cool.

Once again: use the Reference List as well as Googles Guidelines, combine them with the information you have from schema.org and with that combination you’ll have a lot of possibilities you can work with.

Now let’s sum all of this up once gain:

  • Google has its own Guidelines for Structured Data. In there you can find things you can do and you should not do to avoid getting a penalty.
  • As I’ve mentioned in the previous lessons, schema.org provides a list of Things that can be marked up. On top of that you can find a list of Structured Data Things that are officially supported by Google and – in most cases – will generate Rich Snippets in search results.
  • Of course you can also use markup that is not currently supported by Google. That doesn’t mean that search engines do not recognize it. They just don’t generate a Rich Snippet out of it.
  • The Structured Data Test Tool is a handy tool that can validate Structured Data. Not only from code but from webpages, too.
  • You can use my free Structured Data Generator to build your own snippets and test them. That’s a reduced version of the generator that I’ve built-in into the WordPress Plugin.
  • Included in my plugin is a functionality that I’ve called „Global Snippets“. You create one Structured Data Type and populate it to all posts at once. So you don’t need to write the same snippet for every single post. A good example would be the Article-Schema that is already built-in and ready-to-use.

Alright. You’re now finished module 1. In the next lesson I’ll tell you exactly how you can integrate Structured Data into your site without writing a single line of code. See you there.