In this episode of the Digital Marketing with Bill Hartzer podcast, I spoke with Mark Traphagen from SEO Clarity. We discussed Schema Markup for Websites, as well as Schema Markup and On Page SEO tools. Tools mentioned include SEO Clarity’s Schema.Dev Chrome Plugin, SEO Clarity Essentials, and SEO Clarity’s Spark Chrome Plugin.
You can listen to this episode Digital Marketing with Bill Hartzer podcast on Apple Podcast, Spreaker, iHeartRadio, Google Podcasts, or watch the YouTube video above.
Tools mentioned in this episode
Free Schema Builder tool: https://schema.dev
Free Spark Content Optimizer plugin: https://www.seoclarity.net/spark-content-optimizer/
Get 20% off for life on seoClarity Essentials, the three most-needed aspects of our SEO platform at an affordable cost. Go to https://www.seoclarity.net/seo-platform-essentials/ to learn more, and use code BH2020 at checkout for the discount. Offer valid until July 31, 2020.
Here is the full transcript of the episode:
Bill Hartzer (00:04):
Hi, this is Bill Hartzer. And this is the digital marketing podcast with Bill Hartzer. Today I have the pleasure of having Mark Traphagen, who is the Vice President or VP of product marketing and training from seoClarity. Welcome Mark. And little about, tell me a little bit about yourself and your background. I know, I know, I know probably known you’ve probably going on 10 years now or so, but you know, in various capacities, but tell me a little about yourself, a little bit about yourself and your, your background and how you got into digital marketing and SEO.
Mark Traphagen (00:43):
Sure. So like a lot of us, I kind of backed into digital marketing and SEO. It’s certainly not what I thought I wanted to be when I was growing up. Of course I’ll confess to being old enough that it wasn’t even a thing that anybody imagined they’d want to be when they were growing up when I was a child. But I started out did, did about 10 years of of sales when I was in sales, on the road sales about 15 or more years of classroom teaching. And then I had my midlife crisis. I went back to school for, you know, graduate school. And while I was in graduate school, got a part time job in the campus bookstore. And this is right when Amazon was coming in and the campus bookstore was hurting. It was losing money, a small campus that we were on, the school was threatening to even close down the bookstore.
Mark Traphagen (01:28):
So the boss one day put me down in front of a computer online and said figure out how to take us online. And God threw me in the deep end and all this because I was a blogger at the time. So I knew all about the internet. But we learned it. We, we taught it to ourselves. We built an East store and then we learned how to market it. And the bug bit, like by the time I was done at school, I knew this is what I wanted to do next. So we moved here to Durham, North Carolina. I talked my way into a job in a local agency here or not local, but big agency. And just learned at the feet of people like Russ Jones, who’s most recently been the data scientist with MAs, just got to learn, you know, SEO from the ground up and fell in love with it, went on to work with Eric Ganga for five years at stone temple. And now I’m an SEO clarity seeing it from the other side of the desk. I’m in house at a software developer software as a service one of the largest SEO platforms in the world marketing from the inside out. So getting to see it all and enjoying it.
Bill Hartzer (02:33):
Sure. What I find, you know, talking to a lot of folks in the industry I find overall, and this is how it kind of, I came into the industry also, is that, you know, it was, is not something that, you know, we went to school for and not something that, you know, we, we said, okay, we want to go into digital marketing. And, you know, we, we weren’t it as a necessity. And then we weren’t as we go and you know, it sounds like, especially with the bookstore experience, you know, and said, okay, well, we need to get this online and start ranking. And, and I was actually in house as a webmaster and how to add a telecom software company and kind of did it as a, you know, the website as a necessity and found that we had a lot of content internally for our products.
Bill Hartzer (03:21):
So we started to use that as, as content and so forth and just learn it that way. And then I also was doing, you know, sort of affiliate as well, so on the side so I’ve been basically a, always a fan of, you know, learning, learning this and learning SEO as you actually go out and do it create your own website or do, you know, just, just get your feet wet and start doing it and learning that way. And, you know, as long as you have some computer experience, I think you can get into this industry and if you’re willing to learn. So
Bill Hartzer (04:05):
So basically, you know, so today we’re talking about a little bit about you know, about, about schema and schema markup. And I kind of learned years ago, you know, basically with the HTML code with, you know, you adding headings, [inaudible] bulleted with numbered lists and so forth, but in the past several years schema has been created by, you know, by the search engines in order to allow them to pull more information about a lot of things and you know, and to help them populate their, their, their, their backend databases. So tell me a little bit about why we need to add schema to our web pages or even, you know, certainly we all already have HTML and HTML markup, but what is schema and why would we want to even pay attention to it?
Mark Traphagen (05:07):
I’m really intrigued that you began with talking about HTML, because I think it’s a great, simple example of that. You know, it’s a, it’s a form of structured data that most of us have been using for many, many years and are familiar with. We don’t even think about it anymore, but it’s exactly what HTML really is. It’s, it’s structuring data. The data in this taste is the content that you want to put onto a webpage. And the HTML tells a web browser what all that data is, what is how to structure it. So an H one tag, this is a big title, H two and so forth. All those things are just a way of telling the browser, giving it a simple set of instructions that tell it like, this is how to organize this data and present it in a, in a web browser.
Mark Traphagen (05:47):
So we talk about schema markup. It’s just another step up of structured data. One of the challenges and the reason it exists is for search engines as they became less and less dependent on just link citations and began to get more interested in being able to analyze content on a page, analyze elements on a page, understand what a page is about, understand, you know, what’s going on there and what’s on the page. It’s, it’s a great challenge in computer science to be able to do that and to be able to do it at scale and with machine learning and all this they’re getting better and better at it all the time, but they still figured, you know, let’s give webmasters a way to help us out here, a way to tell us what all this information on the page is or what a lot of it is.
Mark Traphagen (06:37):
So think of schema very simply as a set of code that you can add around elements on your page that tell a search engine, this is what this is. So this is a person place or thing, or this is a, a recipe, or this is a FAQ list. Or this is a the times that my business is open, there’s just, you know, hundreds of possible applications, all bits of pieces of, of common data that are common to many sites, but you’re just kind of pointing out to the search engine. This is what this kind of data is. So at a, at a simple level, that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about schema. And then one more thing is just as you alluded to the reason it’s been so powerful and so widely adopted is because it was a consortium of a number of the leading search engines got together. And one of their rare cooperative efforts and said, like, it’ll benefit us all. If we, they formed this a site called schema.org and they work together. So it’s open source. This, let’s build it on what the community wants and needs out there and what we all need and we’ll agree together. So that webmasters developers SEOs can use a uniform set of code and it will apply to all the major search engines.
Bill Hartzer (07:51):
Sure. It’s basically to help them organize, you know, I mean, I’ve heard this before organized the world’s information and yeah, we talked about it. A lot of it can be person places and things and types. And you know, whether it’s, you know, w we’re explaining that your, or, you know, there’s a couple of several different types. And we get, we come down, you know, it comes down to the, one of the simplest and most, most commonly used is, you know, welcome business. And I think about a local business or even an organization. And you’re basically telling the search engines that, you know, this page or this information on the page is about this particular organization. And this is the author of this, the publisher, this is the owner of this content. And, you know, w we think about a local business, they have, you know, name, address, phone number hours of operation longitude, latitude yeah, it map information.
Bill Hartzer (08:58):
You are you know, we get into URL and M you know, the logo and, you know, a short description and so forth. So a lot of that information is, is standard. And, you know, there’s basically ways to implement, you know, implement the code. And even if, even for a lot of people who, where it becomes difficult, I’m always say, Oh, well, we mentioned the word code. You know, there’s it, it can be obviously difficult for a lot of people, even, even, even if I sat down and wrote the wrote code and I can write some code. But it’s easier for me a lot actually, do you use a form and copy and paste, you know, the name, the address, the phone number of all local business and, you know, fill out a form and have that code automatically generated. So I know that just SEO clarity has a fairly new browser plugin for the Google for Google Chrome that helps us add this information or build this code. Tell me a little bit about this new, you know, this, this, yes. You know, clarity, the schema browser plugin.
Mark Traphagen (10:15):
Sure. I’d be glad to we come up with elec, we do everything at SEO clarity. We come up with it because we hear a need from our clients and the SEOs that are out there, you know, and one of the challenges of schema, you hit it right on the head nail right on the head is is producing the code, making sure that it’s valid it’s done correctly and doing that at scale, which is, which is a hard challenge. And there’d been some tools out there over the years that can do it. There’s some good tools out there that you can pay for that are paid that will help you do that, or agencies that specialize in helping to implement that. But we wanted to come up with the with a, you know, quick, easy to use solution that could enable virtually anyone to create and implement proper correct schema code on the pages on their site.
Mark Traphagen (11:04):
And to do without any necessarily, you know, in depth coding. So like you said earlier, like con it would be comparable to somebody writing a blog post in HTML. I used to work with Eric Anga and I think he still does to this day, Eric actually writes all of his blog posts in HTML. He’s just what he’s used to, what he grew up on, you know, his background. And so he’s feels comfortable doing that, but most of us don’t do that. We write it in some kind of CMS, like WordPress or something like that, where you got a whiskey wig, you know, we just type it in, we just use our normal bolt toolbar for bolding and italics and headlines and such. And the CMS fills all that in it’s it’s creating the HTML code in the background. So our schema builder tool does a similar kind of function for a building schema code.
Mark Traphagen (11:52):
What’s unique. What’s unique about it. So, first of all, let me tell people now, and we’ll repeat it again, like where they can get this, cause it’s absolutely free. You find the email@example.com. So S C H E M a dot D E V. Schema.Dev. And that’s where you can go to learn about the tool and to get it from the Chrome store and have it installed in your Chrome browser. And once you have it installed, all you have to do is go to any page on your site and hit the hit the icon in your toolbar for S for the schema builder. It’ll pop down a sidebar while you’re on that page. And then you select the kind of schema that you want to use. And we started out with with four types we’re adding every week. Now we’re adding more types.
Mark Traphagen (12:36):
We’re obviously adding the ones first that most SEOs or most sites need have the highest priority for, but, you know, over the course of the next year, we, we’re going to be adding in all the types that anyone that are actually used by Google and the major search engines. So you pick the type that you want to use, and here’s where it’s so easy, right? On the webpage. You simply with your mouse, you highlight the element on the page that you want to build that code around. So let’s say that you’re using, you know, we mentioned like a business address and that address appears on this particular page. You’d actually highlight the address you click and the code is created. And the code is up pre-validated it’s Jason LD code. You just take it, you paste that into code of your page and you’re good to go. So it’s really that simple it’s painting click.
Bill Hartzer (13:27):
That was great. And you know, they’re there as there are, you know, it’s interesting, I have noted that you know, Google does provide us with kind of a schema validator tool that we can obviously put in the URL and it’ll look at the page and tell us, you know, whether there are errors are or warnings. Just as a note, you know, I’ve noticed that if there’s an error on the page, you know, Google will have a problem with it. It may or may that page may or may not get indexed, or they may, you know, may not even rank if you will. But if they’re, you know, warnings are okay, because sometimes I’ve noticed that, you know, sometimes they, they would like us to add in prices and, and, you know, other details like that, where a price is not available for a certain particular product, for example.
Bill Hartzer (14:17):
So in my show, a warning that, Hey, you know, you don’t have, you know, a price for this product and there may not be one you know, that you can provide, but they’ll, those tend to be warnings, those types of things. And, but errors may be that there’s additional issues. And that that’s, that’s something to pay attention to. I was actually working with, with some, some schema called this morning, and it was FAQ page schema. So the FAQ page, basically as a frequently questions page where you list, you know, just for your users, you would have a page that would have several questions and answers on it, and they would navigate to that page and, you know, which is typical, but there is FAQ page schema where you can add the code. You can add, you know, I’m, I’m sure that’s is probably, you know, part of the, the you know, this, this, the schema.dev you know, plugin or FAQ and frequently, it’s basically you put in the question and you put in the answer, and I’ve noticed that in the answer, if you have an extra quotation Mark, for example or you have quotation marks around a few words that the code, actually my break and Google might say, Hey, there’s something were going on because you have an extra, you know you know, quote Mark in there.
Bill Hartzer (15:49):
So yeah, I mean, it definitely is, is helpful to have something that will validate that code. Cause like I said luckily I was able to, you know, find that error, find that error on a, on a site I was working on or a page I was working on my process actually just to fix it and then make sure that, you know, there, the cat, the Casper version is clear of the page it’s loading properly. And, and then I resubmit it to Google and search, you know, in the Google search console, URL, inspector tool and talk hopefully fairly quickly it will know it will, Google will see it and, and fix it. So second component of the schema builder tool, that’s going to be coming soon. It’s, it’s not you can read about it on the firstname.lastname@example.org, but it’s not active yet, but as soon will be is our tester.
Bill Hartzer (16:46):
And so not only can we help you build on the fly, build the code or valid code, but you can test any existing code, go to page and simpler than using the Google tool. Because again, you do it right on the page. You just go to the page, you’ll be able to hit the tester tab and immediately see any errors that that they’re finding on your page, the final component which will come up much later is our deployer. And that will be the only paid component of this tool. You don’t have to use it. You can use everything. Everything else will be free forever, but the deployer will be for much larger sites who want to be able to use this tool at scale and it will help them build a pattern code that they can apply across thousands or millions of pages. So that’s a, that’s often the future, that’s kind of a roadmap for them, for the tool. That sounds great. So moving, you know, moving on a little bit you know, often silly on page SEO is important. We mentioned HTML. And when you mentioned, you know just the, the raw markup of, you know, H ones and H two Sage threes and then, you know, we get into, you know, bold italic and so forth and, you know you know, a lot of the on page factors. So
Bill Hartzer (18:04):
You mentioned to me earlier, we were talking about, and you know, you also have another browser plugin called spark that does kind of a content, you know, how check your, you know, your SEO on each, on the page. Tell me a little bit about that.
Mark Traphagen (18:21):
Yeah, Spark’s been around for awhile. We don’t talk about it enough and more people ought to be using it. Cause it’s, it’s wonderful. I use it every day. Spark again is a free Chrome browser plugin. And I’ll, I’ll mention at the end, you know, how you can get it’s pretty easy, but spark concentrates on the three areas that we, we think at SEO clarity are central to successful SEO and that’s usability, relevance, and authority. So it, it gives you instant on the fly information out of our huge database. For any page on the web, you go to the page, you hit the spark tool again, you know, sidebar comes down, it’s going to tell you, first of all, do a usability analysis. So part of the SEO clarity platform is a full audit platform. We have for our enterprise level clients.
Mark Traphagen (19:09):
We have unlimited audits and crawls that can be run. But we use, so we use that tool to find the top 40 things that usually go wrong on a, on a site, right? So quickly give you those errors, the things that you might want to check from a usability standpoint, second is relevance. We’ll check the topical relevance of your authority again, using our AI assisted content topic builder will tell you how relevant is compared to your competition out there and make suggestions for things that you might want to add to the content to increase its relevancy, and then finally authority.
Bill Hartzer (19:46):
Okay, Mark. So I’m the spark, the spark plug in is this optimization tool for, for our plugin for Google Chrome. Tell me a little bit about it and you know, what actually it does.
Mark Traphagen (20:02):
Yeah. So that spark is our other free tool available to anybody in the SEO community who wants to use it. You don’t have to be an SEO clarity client or use our platform to use it, right. It draws from the full power of our platform. So yeah again, it’s a Chrome plugin. I’ll, I’ll in a moment I’ll share how you can get it. It’s very easy to get it and install it once you haven’t installed any webpage, you click on the extension in your Chrome toolbar, just like with the schema builder tool, it brings down a sidebar and it gives you information on what we think are the three most important areas for an SEO to know for unpaid one is that’s usability relevance and authority. We think if you’re building in three areas, you’re going to do, go do great SEL.
Mark Traphagen (20:49):
So from the usability standpoint, we go into our clarity audit tool. So if you were a full scale, SEO clarity client, you get full access to our unlimited crawler. And then our audit tool, which has hundreds of points that it gives you for an SEO audit our tool. Our spark tool gives you the top 40. So it’s gonna look at the page and tell you, you know, if there’s any of those top 40 areas that you should concentrate on or where there might be errors or something that you might want to fix. The second thing is the content relevance that uses our AI driven content topical authority tool to rate your content and to give you some simple suggestions about how you can improve it, to get more relevance that might make it show up more actively in the search engines, and then finally authority based on link authority.
Mark Traphagen (21:40):
So they use the full power of the, a majestic backlink database to give you backlink data right on the fly. So again, the tool looks like you’re on the page, you click it, you get all of that data for free. Here’s how to get it go to seoclarty.net, that’s seoclarity.net, and go to the SEO resources tab. And you’ll find all of our resources there. I just looked for spark and the free tools and installed on your browser. And you’re good to go. Okay. Sounds great. So how do we get in touch with you? I know that you also mentioned that we might have, we have a discount for our listeners today. But how, how can we get in touch? Sure. First of all, to get in touch with me personally, I’m very active on Twitter all day long, so that’s always a great place to reach me.
Mark Traphagen (22:29):
And it’s just my name at Mark Traphagen. You can spell that T R a P H A G E N. You got me. So that’s probably the best place to get me online. And then, you know, SEO, clarity.net to find out more about our platform. And yes, let me share a special offer. That’s just exclusively for your audience bill between now and the end of July. If they’ll use code BH2020. So Bill Hartzer, I think they’ll hard serve verse 2020 at checkout. You can get 20% off for life from our essentials product. Now what essentials is SEO clarity essentials is okay. The three most essential parts of our platform. It’s not the full platform, right? Because our full platform is designed for, you know, huge enterprise businesses, but we wanted to make something available to people with independence or mall or medium sized businesses that might not need, or be able to afford our full functioning platform. So you get the three mode, you get keyword reports, you get, Mmm, you get a keyword research and you get our content builder to build better and more relevant content. All in this package, it’s based on the number of keywords that you want to buy. So you buy as much or as few as you want to buy. And so the
Bill Hartzer (23:46):
Offer is, again that whatever you decide, whatever level the package you decided to buy for how many keywords that you want to be able to track in the package with BH2020 entered at checkout 20% off of that for as long as you use it. Alright, that’s awesome. That’s a great deal. Think I’m going to probably take advantage of that, offer myself. So it’s SEO clarity.net is the website and we can follow you on Twitter at @marktraphagen. That’s it. Okay. Sounds great, Mark. Thanks for joining me this afternoon. This has been the digital marketing podcast with Bill Hartzer. And we’ll see you online. Thanks.