When it comes to optimizing for local SEO, schema markup is one of the most effective, yet underused practices. Local businesses can add schema markup to their websites to make it easier for search engines like Google to understand your business and index your site better. This helps boost your SEO, and helps you rank better in relevant SERPs.
But before we get to the ‘how’, let’s first talk about the ‘what’.
What is Schema Markup?
Schema markup is basically snippets of frontend code that you include in your website’s header or footer section, that contains microdata about your business. Developed by Schema.org, which is a collaborative effort from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex, schema markup can be used to help search engines crawl and understand your website better. They also enhance online user engagement with your business, by providing relevant data to users directly on SERPs. In this article, we will be focusing on local business schema, and how you can use it to optimize your local SEO.
Schema has a number of categorizations, based on the type of information that it provides. Some of the commonly used categories include event, person, organization, product, etc. LocalBusiness schema is a part of the ‘Organization’ category and can be used by business owners to provide information such as their business’ NAP, open hours, and even rich data such as maps, images, and menus to users directly on the SERPs.
Schema.org has a number of types listed for local businesses. You can find all these types, along with the complete list of custom properties here.
Now let’s get down to how you can use local schema to optimize your local SEO.
#1 Make Use of the Available Business Types
Schema.org has a vast number of business types that you can use in your website’s markup. Many a time, businesses tend to stick to the generic ‘LocalBusiness’ type. While not wrong, this doesn’t give search engines a clear idea of the nature of your business.
So, instead of sticking to the ‘LocalBusiness’ type, you can use a more specific organizational markup, which looks something like this:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Electrician”></div>
#2 Markup Your Business’ NAP Details accurately
One of the most important aspects of local SEO is to get your business’ NAP listed consistently and accurately. This also applies to schema markup, and is vital for search engines to understand your business’ exact location. Do make note that including your business’ NAP in your markup requires you to declare a new type – PostalAddress.
Here’s an example of how your NAP details would look in your markup:
<div itemprop=”address” itemscope
<span itemprop=”streetAddress”>397 10th Street</span>
<span itemprop=”addressLocality”>San Francisco</span>,
Phone: <span itemprop=”telephone”>555-248-1675</span>
#3 Incorporate Maps & Geo Properties
When it comes to local searches, the proximity of your business to the user is a huge factor for ranking organically. In order to help search engines in getting this right, you should incorporate both ‘hasMap’ and ‘geo’ properties in your markup.
The ‘hasMap’ property displays a local map with your business’ location in the search results, while the ‘geo’ property is used to pinpoint your business’ geographical coordinates. While the ‘hasMap’ property can be directly included in your LocalBusiness markup, the ‘geo’ property requires you to declare a new type, which is ‘GeoCoordinates’.
Here’s how a hasMap markup typically looks:
<link itemprop=”hasMap” href=”https://www.google.com/maps/place/Costco+Wholesaleemail@example.com,-122.4132266,16z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x808f7e28c2ee680b:0xe77ab2a37fb8babc!8m2!3d37.7702716!4d-122.4108656”>
And this is an example of a geo property in your markup:
<span itemprop=”geo” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/GeoCoordinates”>
<meta itemprop=”latitude” content=”37.770392″ />
<meta itemprop=”longitude” content=”-122.412797″ />
#4 Markup Your Business’ Social Profiles
Including your business’ social profiles as part of your schema markup connects the dots between your website and your social profiles. This helps search engines discover your business’ citations faster, which we all know has a direct impact on local rankings.
You can do this using the ‘sameAs’ property to markup your business’ social profiles. This property lets search engines know that your business is the same one as cited in the given URL.
Here’s what the code looks like:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Plumber”>
<span itemprop=”name”>Seattle Plumbing</span>
<link itemprop=”url” href=”http://www.seattleplumbing.com/”>
<link itemprop=”sameAs” href=”https://facebook.com/seattleplumbing”>
#5 Leverage The Site Navigation Schema Markup
Site navigation schema markup is a very useful element when it comes to local schema. This helps search engines understand your site structure and navigation better. It displays your website’s sections in SERPs, increasing organic sitelinks.
The ‘SiteNavigationElement’ property is used for this markup, and here’s how it looks:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://www.schema.org/SiteNavigationElement”>
<span itemprop=”name”><a itemprop=”url” href=”http://www.alexautoparts.com/car-parts”>Car Parts</a></span>
<span itemprop=”name”><a itemprop=”url” href=”http://www.alexautoparts.com/custom-decals”>Custom Decals</a></span>
<span itemprop=”name”><a itemprop=”url” href=”http://www.alexautoparts.com/used-cars”>Used Cars</a></span>
<span itemprop=”name”><a itemprop=”url” href=”http://www.alexautoparts.com/motorbike-parts”>Motorbike Parts</a></span>
And there you go! These simple local schema markups can not only boost your local SEO, but also make your website more dynamic and engaging in the SERPs. In order to maximise your results, you can combine these efforts along with getting your business listed on all major online directories, review sites, and social media sites. The more directories/sites your business is listed on, the more citations you have. This also aids in local discovery, and generating more reviews for your business. We recommend using an online tool like Synup for this, since manually listing your business on all major directories can be a cumbersome task.