6 schema markup mistakes to avoid

schema markup

Schema markup is a useful tool for enabling rich result appearances in SERPs, but as with anything that requires some learning and comes with decent rewards, this field of technical SEO is filled with people who make mistakes or use the feature manipulatively. 

If you are considering implementing structured data on your site, perhaps because it hasn’t been given thought before and there are page types which could benefit from it, it’s important to do your research, hire technical SEO experts when necessary and ensure you don’t make mistakes which could end up counting against you. 

What is schema markup? 

Also referred to as structured data, schema markup is a language that search engines use to make better sense of the information laid out on your web page. Once the schema markup has been recognised, rich results or rich snippets can be served which enhance visibility and CTR in the SERPs. 

There are 32 different schema types which Google understands. Originally, the search engine leaned more towards Microdata, but it has since announced official support for Schema.org. There are many supported structured data markup formats under schema.org, with the most popular including JSON-LD, microdata and RDFa. 

Now that we’ve covered the basics of schema markup, here are the top 6 mistakes you should avoid making. 

Not seeing an error in your schema markup 

Whenever we produce something, it’s wise to check the output before publishing it or making it official. Just as you would spell-check an essay, it’s worth ensuring you didn’t miss anything obvious that could be easily fixed. 

Google provides a list of common structured data errors, such as missing or invalid values, unrecognised or duplicate properties and a lack of global identifiers for product pages. 

Once you have checked for errors, the next step is to test it out and ensure Google will recognise it. 

Not testing schema markup 

You should test your schema markup before setting it live. If you missed a mistake, you run the risk of the structured data not working correctly, not being recognised by Google and all of your hard work being for nothing. 

Google offers two testing tools – the Rich Results Test and the Schema Markup Validator. Running your markup through one of these tools is recommended because you can check for syntax issues, missing or improperly formatted properties and other issues which could lead to search engines misinterpreting the structured data.  

You can also use the tools to check the mobile-friendliness of your structured data and ensure that it is in line with the latest guidelines Google has released. 

Not checking your robots.txt file or meta robots tags 

As a quick recap for those who aren’t technically focused day to day, the robots.txt file is a text file placed in the root directory of a website which provides instructions to web crawlers about which parts of the website they are allowed to crawl. 

Meanwhile, meta robots tags are a type of HTML meta tag which are placed in an individual webpage’s HTML code to provide instructions to web crawlers such as whether to allow indexing or following links. 

If you apply schema markup to a page which has been blocked by the robots.txt or noindexed by the meta robots tags, then you will be effectively wasting your time – crawlers will not examine the page and you will never see it in rich results! Take the time to check these before you roll out your structured data. 

Spamming structured data 

You may be tempted to game the SERPs by incorporating ‘cheats’ or ‘hacks’ to improve your chances of getting a page into rich results, but this is never a good idea. For example, some websites may use structured data markup to display fake or exaggerated reviews, or provide incorrect information about events, products or prices. 

Some spammers will use schema markup to stuff irrelevant keywords or phrases in an effort to improve search rankings for unrelated search queries, and others may engage in cloaking – serving one set of structured data to search engine crawlers and another to human visitors, misleading users into clicking on the link. 

These black hat SEO techniques will generally be caught and penalised by Google’s algorithms, so your ‘hacks’ could result in the page being banned from appearing in rich results. 

Expecting guaranteed appearances in rich results 

It wouldn’t be wise to spend time implementing schema markup with an expectation that once it’s rolled out, your web pages will suddenly start appearing in rich results for multiple queries. While schema markup makes pages eligible for these types of SERP appearances, it doesn’t mean they definitely will. 

Ultimately, Google will tailor its search results towards what it believes are the best answers for a specific query, so it’s important to prioritise matching content to the right search intent, finding the best keywords to target and creating EEAT friendly information for your readers. You can read Googles’ general structured data guidelines for more information. 

Don’t forget that if your page contains a structured data issue, you could end up with a manual action from Google. For example, if you mark up irrelevant content, information which is invisible to users or misleading content then your page could be given a penalty and it will no longer be eligible for rich results. You can check if any of your pages have been impacted by navigating to Googles’ Manual Actions Report. 

Not checking traffic periodically 

The point of implementing schema markup is to benefit from a positive impact on search rankings, so rolling it out and never checking if traffic improves due to updates such as rich result appearances would mean you’re missing out on opportunities to share positive reports with key stakeholders. 

Periodically checking traffic can also alert you to issues such as a sudden drop in traffic for pages with markup enabled, so you can troubleshoot and fix it. For example, you may notice that your schema markup has negatively impacted traffic to that page because you didn’t notice an error, or it isn’t working because you didn’t test it to ensure that Google understands it correctly. 

Need help with your schema markup? 

Schema markup implementation can be complex and time-consuming, so why not get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you give your site pages the boost they deserve? 

We can also provide completely free recommendations about where structured data could be rolled out as part of our Free Acquisitions Workshop, where you’ll also receive expert advice, a tailored action plan, and resources. Slots are filling up, so be sure to book today. 


Imogen Groome

Content Lead

Imogen is the SEO Content Lead at Skittle Digital. Imogen has worked in SEO since 2016. She helped to define SEO strategy at Metro.co.uk before guiding the newsroom at The Sun Online as SEO Editor. She has more than 5 years’ experience in scaling content strategies that drive revenue for brands through organic search channels. In her spare time, Imogen writes books, watches poor-quality reality TV and hangs out with her cats.

Similar posts