A Pro’s Start with Schema

December 11, 2014

Digital Marketing Garrett Button By Garrett Button

TL;DR – After cleaning your site’s HTML, start your SEO campaign by putting Schema.org’s Microdata Markup into your site. Doing so means your data will be optimized for Amazon, Google, Bing, Yahoo! and more.


Search engine optimization, better known as SEO, is getting more complicated as search engines become more intelligent. Most engines, for example, are now able to show product data such as cost, color, make and model in search results — which is great for online retailers!

The catch? Engines are more likely to show correct information when sites are coded with schema. So let’s take a look at how to get started.

First, a story

Imagine you’re motorcycle mechanic. You’re pretty good at your job, your customers like you, and you can always pay the bills on time. You’re reliable and respected.

Imagine a new client comes in one day and says, “Hey man, I need you take a look at my bike. It’s riding funny.” You walk outside with him and there, by the front door, is a single speed bicycle.

“Ah, I’m sorry,” you say, “I only work on ‘cycles.”

Indignant, the customer responds, “but this is a ‘cycle.”

“Well technically yes,” you say, “but this is a bicycle. I work on motorcycles.”

The customer looks at you for a moment in utter confusion. The silence is getting a little awkward when he says, “what’s the difference?”

What’s the difference between a Schwinn and a Harley?

Power. Motorcycles and bicycles might have the same general shape, they might have the same basic concepts, they might even have the same common ancestor, but if you expect a bicycle to be able to do the same tasks as a motorcycle you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

The same is true for HTML and Schema. HTML, the bicycle, has a place and a purpose and it fits both very well. But Schema, the motorcycle, has the power and variety to give feed based services the power they need to spread with speed across the web.

A little example

If you’re interested and a have a little coding know-how, check out the getting started page of Schema.org.

The basic idea is simple:

  • HTML uses tags to point out visual changes to web browsers.
  • Schema uses tags to point out product information to search engines.

Search engines have the capacity to infer product information from HTML tags, but these inferences aren’t always correct or complete.

Schema picks up where HTML drops off and points out exact product details (model, manufacturer, brand, color, dimensions, etc.) in a language that every major search engine understands.

Twice the work now means a quarter of the work later

If you’re like most people, you’ll look at this article and dismiss the recommendation out of hand — you just don’t have the time.

But that’s the beauty of Schema. It was created with time saving in mind – the markup mirrors that of Amazon. So if you create schema to start you’ll have a clean feed ready for Amazon.

Once you have a clean feed for Amazon, you’ll be able to use one of the many feed conversion tools (including ChannelAdvisor’s) to create every other feed.

Don’t build  your motorcycle alone

Even if you don’t have the skills and tools to build a motorcycle, you should still find someone (*cough* ChannelAdvisor *cough*) to help build one. They’re bigger, better, more fun, and will save you a whole lot of struggle in the long run.

There’s no single path to your webstore, and savvy retailers know that if they want to dominate the search engine results page (SERP), they need to invest in SEO. Learn more about how ChannelAdvisor can help you be seen on the digital streets.


Blog post by Garrett Button, channel analyst, ChannelAdvisor