Schema for Local Business Websites

Schema is a very powerful tool in search engine and conversion optimization, particularly for ranking local businesses, yet it’s often overlooked and under-utilized.  The fact that many local business websites do not have properly formatted schema is exactly why yours should, as the schema for local business markup gives your website an added advantage over the competitors’ sites.

What is Schema?

Schema can easily become overwhelming and intimidating, but it’s not nearly as convoluted as it may appear.  Schema for local business is much like a business card, i.e. a concise snapshot of your business name, nature of business, address, phone number, hours of operation, website address and relevant social media pages.  This information is served in the <head> of your website, so that the search engines have an immediate and accurate account of your business details.

Schema markups come in two formats: micro-data, which will be visible to viewers on the front end of the website, or JSON-LD, which stays behind the scenes and is only “visible” to the search engines’ crawlers. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that the Google bots prefer the JSON-LD format, therefore we will be focusing on this type of markup.  With both formats, there are different structured markup templates based on the nature of the content being described, the most common of which are local business, person or organization, product, aggregate reviews, event, article, creative work, or place templates.

The Benefits of Schema for Local Business

The purpose of the schema markup is two-fold. For search engines, schema highlights the provided data and allows the bots to easily read, group and filter the content from your website.  This not only helps with getting the pages indexed faster, but also in establishing for which queries the content should be returned in the SERPs (search engine results page).  For humans, including schema markup adds the ability to display rich snippets that catch a user’s attention, ahead of other SERP results, and therefore can improve SEO and CTR (click through rate).

While there is only anecdotal evidence to date regarding the role that rich snippets play in ranking, there is conclusive evidence to support the fact that rich snippets do play a significant role in CTR and conversion rates. In the example below, the second listing is much more likely to elicit a click-through given the 5-star rating and reasonably current date that is displayed in the rich snippet.  The first listing has an optimized meta description but does not include a schema markup.  All other SEO factors being equal, which listing would you be more inclined to click if you were searching for a moving company?

schema for local business

Adding Schema For Local Business To Your Website

As previously stated, there are different structured markup templates for different types of businesses, websites, and content. Our focus in this post is the local business schema, but we will touch on some of the other types briefly, just for awareness of what else is available.

Schema can be added on a site-wide basis, or the markup can be customized for each page, post, or product type. When determining proper placement, the general rule of thumb is to ensure that the data contained within the markup pertains to the page or pages to which it is being applied.  For most local business websites, the business name, address, phone numbers, hours of operations, same-as values (social media pages and G+ profile URLs), logo and map data contained within the markup will apply to all pages, hence the local business schema can safely be applied on a site-wide basis, without penalty.

If you intend to dive into some of the more advanced schema markups, many of those cannot be applied on a site-wide basis. The aggregate review markup, for example, contains information that does not apply to all pages.  Caution should be taken to enable this type of schema markup only on the relevant product or service page to which the reviews apply, otherwise Google will penalize your website for spammy reviews.

Different Methods

The Schema markup can be added to the website either manually, or via a plug-in. When adding manually, you will need to create a child theme and revise the functions.php and header.php files, which is often impractical and not advisable unless you’re an advanced developer.  There are a number of lightweight plug-ins that accomplish the same result and make the task much simpler, at any skill level.

My personal preference when using a plug-in is Markup (JSON-LD) Structured in Schema.org, as it includes markup templates  for local business, websites, services, events, products, blog posts, articles, reviews, news, aggregate ratings, and videos.  There are also native settings to control where the markup(s) will be enabled, making this an extremely flexible and customizable tool.

Once you have added schema whether by plug-in or manually, it’s always prudent to test your website using Google’s Structured Data Tool  to ensure that the markup can be properly validated.

If you have any questions about local business schema, please feel free to leave a comment below.

featured image credit: depositphotos.com

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Alicia is an SEO Specialist at Monterey Premier, and can also be found at http://divihelp.com and http://diviseo.pro.

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