How to do research schemas for competitors

As part of the website optimization strategy, schemas are a vital part due to several reasons:1. The desire to improve the CTR in the search results.2. The potential for improving the understanding of the page by search engines.3.Control and direction of the search engines on what is on the page.4.Using schemas to create entities for companies, site owners, content writers, and professionals.In this guide, I will layout 2 methods for researching the schemas of competitors that will help you decide, according to the schemas, whether the type of content you are optimizing is appropriate for a particular keyword and which schemas are recommended to use for each keyword, and explore what competitors do and probably do right.

Let’s start with the basics. What are schemas?

Schema Markup or Structured Data is a way of describing/making accessible what exactly is on the page regarding structure and content to search engines by implementing a schema markup code.Schemas are – the product of a collaboration between many search engines, including Google and Bing, and they were to help the search engines and the content and page more easily.Schemas are basically based on “type” and “properties”, and thus each schema gives search engines an understanding of the type of content on the page and the breakdown of the page content by schema properties.Types of schemas and properties of each type of schema were determined in advance when the cooperation between the search engines was formed, and you can find a list of all types of schemas and their properties on schema.org. The schemas’ structure can be written in infinite configurations, i.e., schema’s properties and the structure can be changed. But basically, there are only 3 types of schema code that will eventually be implanted on the site page:1.JSON-LD2.Microdata3.RD-FAJSON-LD is the type of consent most recommended by Google and, in my opinion, also the most flexible and easy to use.* New Types of schematics and features are added to schema.org all the time, and changes are made.To stay updated on the site about the new and expected changes in the future. Now that we know the basics, we understand that we implement schemas based on the page’s content.

How do we research the competitors and decide on which schemas to implement?

The tools we will use:

  1. Browser: Chrome, Firefox, or any convenient browser.
  2. Google Sheets or Excel Microsoft’s
  3. tool for checking built-in data or Google Tool
  4. Source for checking and reading about schemas schema.org
  5. Google as the search engine6.Virtual Private Network (VPN)

The process:

After a Google search of the keyword you want to check, we will check which schemas are on the pages from the first position to the tenth or twentieth position in the search results. The reason for checking pages ranked all the way up to the 20th place is that there are ranked pages that: pages are ranked due to other ranking signals that are not schemas, and therefore we cannot assume the top pages’ schemas are the most correct. For example, large sites of reputable companies and brands can rank high even without perfect site optimization.Therefore, for specific keywords, we will examine all the sites ranked up to 20th place. When checking the ranked pages’ schemas, it will be possible to see the commonality between all the ranked pages’ schemas. Before we begin, theres’ a clarification to be made – there are several schemas that are very common and are found in most sites that incorporate schemas such as the WebPage schema and the WebSite schema that are used just to describe the site pages to the search engines in a simple way and the chances that these schemas significantly affect site optimization are slim.However, later on, it is worth checking them out and see how they are built and designed to learn more about the pages.

So, in practice, how do you do the process?

  1. Open any browser in private (Incognito) mode. Open the Schema Markup Testing Tool (or Googles) and keep it open.
  2. Open another tab in the browser and go to Google (set the location to USA or UK with a VPN, depending on the location you want to check)
  3. In Google, we will search for the keyword we want to examine. On the search results, we will focus on the “regular” results or blue links.
  4. Open an Excel file (or any software convenient for saving data). The goal is to keep all the information we collected to analyze all the schemas found and find the common ones.
  5. We will start by writing the keyword we searched for in Google in the Excel file.
  6. Back in the browser, enter the first result in a Google search. We will need the page title and the URL.Copy the URL from the browser’s address bar, and paste it into the schema test tool we opened in the additional tab. Run the test in the tool.Copy the page’s URL and title to the Excel file in separate columns.
  7. In the schema testing tool, we will look at the schemas found in the test and copy all the schemas the tool found to the Excel file.
  8. We will repeat the process in steps 5 and 6.each time we’ll copy and run the tool with the following URL from the search results
  9. We will paste the schemas copied from the tool’s test results into the Excel file by the URL where schemas were found.
*An easier method to extract a title from a page would be to look at the “WebPage” schema under the “Name” property, which is usually populated by the page’s title.

The end result will be an analysis that includes:

  1. Title (and URL) of the page
  2. Types of “key” and supporting schemas found on page
  3. Does the type of schemas match the page’s content, and if not, which schema/schemas would be more fitting.
  4. Schemas with errors, if any.

After running all the addresses in the tool and copying all the schemas, n we can now see the commonalities between the schemas on all the pages, but before that, it is essential to know which schemas can be ignored (at least in the initial step of the analysis).As I mentioned before, WebPage, Website, and Breadcrumbs Schemas are essential but common and will be found on almost every page and site where there are schemas, so in the initial step of the analysis, we will not address them.However, it is recommended to delve into these schemas’ properties to learn the practice and content marked by competitors.

Now for the analysis, when looking at the data, we need to pay attention to 2 parameters:
  1. The title of the page and the page URL, which can be found in the search results, or from one of the schemas, for example, a WebPage schema or an Article schema, has the “name” And “URL” properties serving this information.

The reason we want to examine the title of the page and the URL is:
There are now many sites that use software or plugin to implement schemas that work automatically.It is sometimes the case that site owners don’t invest thought in choosing schemas.For example, there may be pages where the title or URL indicates an article or page that would be of a type of a HOW-TO type or a new news content type which describes an event in a particular time, past, present, or future, and the “Article” type of schema in its basic form would not be the most fitting for that type of content. In this case, the NewsArticle or Event schema might be more appropriate, the content might be more appropriate as BlogPosting rather than Article, etc. So it is important to look at the page title, the URL, and perhaps even the content of the pages to see a pattern and conclude which schema would be the most appropriate for the page.

2.to expand on the previous stage, on the types of schemas that exist on the page ranked by each competitor using a certain keyword.

Each competitor will likely have one central schema that will be the best fit for the content on the page, and that schema and its properties need to be analyzed. But these might not be enough. For example, there may be a contact page containing the local business information (LocalBusiness schema). Or a page with a product/event/location review, with an EVENT schema because this is an annual/one-time event, etc. Therefore, according to the competitor’s page content and schemas, we will summarize each ranked competitor and add it to the Excel file.
** Opinion, for the analysis itself, it would probably be better to start with the results ranked from the bottom (position 10 or 20) and to work up to the first result on the page, the reason is that (as noted above) in many cases, larger sites are less likely to invest in their schemas or not add them at all, So it is better to start with the sites that are more likely to put effort and invest in their schemas to help with their rankings.with one reservation, news sites, recipe sites, and commerce sites will very often invest in their schemas because of the significant benefits from them**

The desired result of our analysis of the search results:

  1. From the data we have saved, we will filter the schemas and decide which main and supporting schemas were found on most of the pages with a comprehensive view of all the ranked websites.
  2. In the case where schemas were not best fitting for the page’s content. We will note which schemas could have replaced the main and/or supporting schemas found and which supporting schemas we could add if they weren’t found.
  3. Ask yourself, would the newly replaced schemas did the new replacing schemas be more appropriate according to the title of the pages, the URLs, and the types of schemas since we can be even more specific about the content with the schema(TechArticle vs. NewsArticle “technically both could fit the content but..Reason XY Z”).
  4. In another column in the Excel file, looking at the previous step, we will make a list of all schemas that were appropriate for the keyword. If we already have content that we would like to rank for that keyword, and appropriate schemas would also match that content, we can now look at the properties of the competitor schemas and get an idea of proper fitting schema properties to use.

*with the research we performed, and by our conclusions, we could use it to craft new content fitting ideas*With everything above being said, There’s an easier and faster way to do the same competitor research with my tool, Schemaster.

How does Schemaster work?

Once you enter the tool’s interface, you can search for a keyword using the desired search location (no VPN needed), for example, Israel / United States / England. After that, enter the keyword we want to analyze and click the ANALYZE button.The tool will automatically do the entire process of testing the results ranked from 1st to 10th and will provide us with all the schemas found on all pages, the information on which schemas were common and which were less so, as well as which schemas from those found are schemas that have a chance of visually affecting the search results.If visually changing our search results is what we aim for, for example, with product pages, We will know if these rich result schemas exist in the competitor’s pages.

All we have left to do is, using an Excel file:

  1. Copy the common key and support schemas that were found from the tool.
  2. Look at the competitor’s found pages, their titles, URL, and content, and use them to see if the schemas found are appropriate, and if not, write down which schemas would be used as replacements.
  3. Once done analyzing all competitors, we can conclude which schemas will fit best for the desired keyword and content.
  4. Now, using the schemas, we can draw inspiration for content ideas, or if the right content is available, pair it with the existing schemas.