Oh No! Where Did Medical Schema Go?
May 16th, 2016 by
While working on implementing some schema markup for a medical clinic last week, I went to schema.org to see my available property choices, but when I went to the same page I’ve visited a hundred times before, https://schema.org/MedicalClinic, instead of the list of properties and their definitions I was expecting, I got this perplexing message:
After doing a little poking around on schema.org, I noticed their release notes mentioned the implementation of a new version of schema, Schema 3.0.
What does that mean for those of us who use schema on our websites? Well, not too much for most industries. Some new schema properties have been added here and there. You can see the release notes for a full list of schema updates. However, if you manage a medical industry website, then you should be aware of a fairly significant change. Schema has re-organized their site and created a new “extension” for Medical schemas. Medical schemas like “MedicalClinic,” “MedicalProcedure,” “Physician,” and even “Dentist” have been migrated to a new subdomain, https://health-lifesci.schema.org/. Most but not all pages on schema.org that used to contain properties available for medical schema types now show the same core vocabulary message. Some pages, like https://schema.org/Physician, still display their property types. There are new pages on the health-lifesci subdomain for medical schema types, so we can still mark up these schema types using the new URLs for these pages:
Currently, Google has not followed suit—their structured data testing tool has not been updated. If you replace https://www.schema.org/MedicalProcedure with https://health-lifesci.schema.org/MedicalProcedure, Google doesn’t throw up an error; it just completely ignores the schema. This update raises some pretty big questions. Will Google update their schema validation, and will the old schema URLs be deprecated and invalid?
Another variable that makes updating your schema iffy is the information on the new schema extension page, “The terms defined in this extension may be considered moderately stable, but some changes are still likely (including renaming and restructuring) through ongoing community collaboration.” I also think that this may indicate that the restructuring may not be limited to just these schema types, and schema.org may start creating more extensions for specific schemas, rather than including them in the core schema language.
Right now all we can do is watch and wait. So long as Google is only validating the old schema URLs, we recommend continuing to use those, but stay on the lookout for some big changes yet to come.
Edited on 5-16-2016 at 3:24 pm:
“As of this afternoon, Google has already made updates to their validation tool so the new health-lifesci extension will now validate. The old URL for these schema types continues to work as well and does not produce a warning or error. Hopefully this is a sign that those of us with medical schema already implemented on our sites will not have to update the schema to the new format any time soon. Kudos to Google for the swift update.”
Feature image credit.
Interesting blog post. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for writing this up, Devin!
It’s crazy how central to online marketing and web development these resources from Schema and Google have become.
As you identify, many health terms have been moved as of v3.0 into a hosted extension focused on health-lifescience terms.
Now that these terms have been moved in to an extension this is the normal mode of operation if you try to view the documentation when not in the extension in which the term has been defined. You are redirected to the document page in the relevant extension. All extensions work in this way.
However no previous markup is broken or will need to be reworked because of this change – the canonical URI of the term, as displayed at the top of the term page, are still http://schema.org/Dentist, http://schema.org/MedicalProcedure, etc.
Hosted extensions, and the domain allocated for them [in this case http://health-lifesci.schema.org/ ] bring the term documentation together in a domain focused way for discussion and display. However the term identifiers are all allocated in the schema.org namespace.
You can view all the terms documented in the health-lifesi extension here: http://health-lifesci.schema.org/
See http://health-lifesci.schema.org/docs/extension.html and http://health-lifesci.schema.org/docs/howwework.html for more information.
As Richard notes, there is no need for alarm. Old markup is still fine, and new markup looks the same as old markup. This is best considered an administrative change within schema.org, and it is clear that there is scope for improving the wording of the pages and links accordingly. We anticipate various kinds of extensions hosted within schema.org, but they are really more like “tagging” of terms to say which section they’re in and to create topical areas where we can go into more detail than makes sense within a single monolithic vocabulary.
Does anyone have any idea why MedicalBusiness does not validate using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool?
Unfortunately there is a disparity in the available schema from schema.org and what Google validates. When you run into issues like this one you just have to select from the more specific schema types, which can be found below the list of properties on schema.org page , or go with a less specific schema type like LocalBusiness or Organization.