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Schema Basics for Your Nonprofit’s Website

Ever wonder why some Google search results show up as cards at the top of the page? It has to do with the page schema. A schema is a data model – let’s use an online recipe as an example to explain what that means.

When you look at a recipe on a webpage you see various elements such as the recipe name, the ingredients, and the steps. When Google crawls the page for information it sees all of that content, but it only understands it as a large body of text. The schema organizes the content so in this example Google understands that this is a recipe, here are the ingredients, and here are the steps to prepare it. This then allows Google to give the person searching a more specific and detailed result rather than just a page tile and meta description.

The first image below shows how search results appear on pages with schemas. In the second, how results appear on pages without them.

As you can see, when schemas are applied Google can provide what are known as rich results. You’ll see more specific details and images that can help you feel confident that the link you click on will give you that information you’re looking for.

For your nonprofit, the obvious benefit is that a schema will help your organization stand out. While it can’t guarantee that your site will be first in the search results, a schema expands the information that appears in the right-hand column. This lack of ambiguity, compared with other more basic listings, allows you to show potential site visitors information they’re looking for faster. In a world where we expect instant gratification, a schema delivers exactly that through increased visibility and clarity. The image below is an example of how the right-hand column would appear for a nonprofit website using a schema.

Schema.org is the official website where you can see a list of all the types of schemas – there are 614 of them. Most of them aren’t useful to basic nonprofit websites, but you have the ability to click on a specific type to create the schema for your web content. For example, click on the schema for an article, and you’ll see the properties that need to go inside of this markup such as the article body, section, type of data, and description.

Three schemas that might be especially useful for your nonprofit are ‘organization,’ ‘article,’ and ‘event.’

  • Organization – Using the Organization schema will allow Google to display things such as your logo, your slogan, and your contact information separate from the search results. This will increase brand recognition and make it easier for users to contact you.
  • Article – Using the Article schema will allow Google to list your article (e.g. blog post, news article, or report) in a way that stands out from the rest of the search results. Google will understand what the content is and be able to match that with what the user is looking for more intelligently than simply matching keywords.
  • Event – The event schema allows Google to present all the information about your event separate from the search results which simply makes this information easier to find. This will result in more people coming to your events.

While you do need a web developer to create schemas for your site, the good news is that they can be applied to an existing website, so you don’t need to wait for a complete rebuild to add them. If your organization is looking for a small and simple way to stand out from the crowd, a schema might be just what you need.

Send us an email or complete this form, and one of our digital marketing experts will be happy to talk with you about schemas and how they can make a big difference when it comes to your site’s search visibility.

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