Schema Markup: The Top 7 Structured Data Options for Nonprofits

A Moz statistic from 2014 still holds up within a decent margin of error in 2018: 71.33% of searches resulted in a click on an organic, page-one Google result — in August 2018, that click-through rate was 72.97%. Nearly half of those clicks go to the search result in the first position, and of that 72.97% organic CTR in August, 32.73% went to the first result. The likelihood of getting a click on a search result in the second position drops by more than half (in August 2018, the CTR for a second-spot search result was 13.44%).

What is Schema?

So, what if you can’t break into that coveted Number 1 spot? Schema can help. Also known as Schema.org, Schema is a repository of structured data that you can add to your website’s HTML to augment how search engines display your website pages in search results. This can be deployed easily through Google Tag Manager. The best part: Schema.org is open-source and free for anyone to use and adapt for their specific website content.

Take, for instance, Whole Whale client National Aphasia Association. Let’s say our friends at NAA weren’t ranking Number 1 for a Google search of “types of aphasia.” Because their page of Aphasia definitions has a schema markup that displays a list of aphasia types to the average 8,100 searchers per month, and is positioned above the first Google search result (which also just happens to be NAA). There’s even a handy infographic included as part of the snippet.

Schema Example National Aphasia Association

Schema Example from the National Aphasia Association

In this example, we can see how Schema markup immediately pushes down any top organic results past the top fold of a search engine results page. Some SEOs believe that this increases organic click-through rate to a website by as much as 30% — at the expense of the Number 1 search result.

So what types of Schema should your nonprofit or for-benefit consider adding to your website? Here are 7 structured data types to start off with as you continue to optimize your site for SEO.

1. Organization Schema

This is the one for any nonprofit to start off with. Organization Schema will help search engines to display your contact information, including multiple phone numbers, website, mailing address, sponsors, affiliations, CEO… Whatever you think is the most important information for Google to display, go for it. There’s even a specific NGO Schema. Here’s what it looks like for Whole Whale client Crisis Text Line:

Crisis Text Line Organization Schema Example

Organization Schema example from Crisis Text Line

2. ItemList Schema

This might be the schema your organization uses the most: For any type of list that you offer on a webpage, you can format it as Schema and gain valuable visual real estate in search engine result pages (SERPs). Do you have a “Types of X” page for the area of work your nonprofit works in? Do you have a list of facts? (You should have a list of facts or statistics, as we’ve learned from our buddies at DoSomething.org.) Do you have a list of territories in which you work?

Take, for instance, Whole Whale client Concern Worldwide US: Their Google presence for a search of “hungriest countries” dovetails with their piece on The World’s 10 Hungriest Countries.

List Schema Example

Concern Worldwide US’s List Schema

ItemList is a Schema that also has a range of more specific Types, including a BreadcrumbList (useful for helping users to understand a website hierarchy), a HowToStep (step-by-step how-tos for commonly queried tasks or actions), or an OfferCatalog (great for listing services or products offered).

3. Map Schema

This one is particularly great for hyper-local nonprofits or social entrepreneurships that have a brick-and-mortar storefront and are aimed at getting local foot traffic. This is perfect for organizations like former Whole Whale client Planned Parenthood, which has a number of local clinics in any given location.

Map Schema Example Planned Parenthood

Map Schema Example via Planned Parenthood

Make like the Indigo Girls and get out the map.

4. Product Schema

For any product your organization offers, there’s a Schema for that. If you have branded swag that you sell online, it’s easy to add SERP-level data around price, availability, or even images. If you don’t have products but offer services, this is also an excellent Schema to work with. If your organization gets involved in specific products, there are options like Book Schema, Movie Schema, and MusicRecording Schema.   

5. Event Schema

If you’re a nonprofit in the arts — or simply in the business of hosting a number of events — you can put these goings-on front and center with, yep, Event Schema. There are also a number of specific Types for this Schema, including BusinessEvent Schema, EducationEvent Schema, Festival Schema, and MusicEvent Schema.  If, like Lincoln Center, you have a number of offerings any day of the week, this can be especially helpful (as seen below).

Event Schema example from Lincoln Center

Lincoln Center’s Event Schema

6. Review Schema

If your organization or services offered have reviews from different sources online, show off how great you are by organizing them through Review Schema. This data also offers aggregate ratings if you have a star-sort of system. This can be even used for reviews made by your employees on Glassdoor or similar websites — and a good review aggregate may inspire trust in future donors.

7. Article Schema

Another ubiquitous Schema that can be operationalized if you have an especially robust content strategy. The Article Schema covers any number of article types, and Schema.org has specific markups for NewsArticle Schema, Report Schema, and ScholarlyArticle Schema (among others). If you have notable guest contributors, this is also a great way of getting their names in front of your search audiences. Here’s how Whole Whale client Stanford Social Innovation Review’s latest articles appear in Google when you search their name.

Article Schema Example from SSIR

Article Schema Example from SSIR

Want to dive even deeper into Schema? Our friends at Yoast have a whole course for that — designed especially for non-coders. (PS, Yoast — we need to talk about your Boz Scaggs reference in this course. If you don’t know who Boz is beyond having good Schema, you’re missing out…)