Sometimes a straight line isn’t always the most direct approach.
After temporarily setting aside their differences, the Web’s three leading search companies – Google, Microsoft Bing and Yahoo! – have launched a standardized markup vocabulary (Schema.org) billed as a major step forward in the evolution of search.
As a result of the collaboration businesses operating online can expect changes in the way websites are designed, and the manner in which the search marketing game is played. The new shared standardized coding approach detailed at Schema.org now shows Rich Snippets on search engines, and that not only means enhanced search options but an opportunity for marketers to produce more dynamic results.
At the very least it is going to make things a bit more interesting for anyone tasked with handling search engine optimization and visibility for web properties.
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The basic breakdown.
Because most websites are generated from structured data that is often stored in databases, it becomes difficult to recover the original when formatted into HTML. This means there is plenty of information on the Web that “The Big Three” aren’t going to be able to track down. Some of that information might even be yours.
Schema.org takes aim at gaining direct access to this structured data in order to improve search results and helping provide richer results in order to make it easier for users to find relevant information on the Web.
“Rather than rely solely on machine learning and other AI techniques, we asked, ‘What if we could enable publishers to have a single schema they could use to describe their sites that all search engines could understand?” Bing’s Steve Macbeth wrote in a Microsoft blog post.
“We want to enable publishers to give us hints about what things they are describing on their sites.”
A more tailored approach for SEO.
The standardized list of schemas developed by the group are essentially a collection of HTML tags designed to help search engines more accurately index relevant content within Web pages. The use of common schemas to structure the data embedded in websites should lead to better search results and, more importantly for marketers, a way to focus on what matters to you most.
It would seem that understanding subtleties is a harder problem than indexing. If you are interested in improving your website search results you can get started immediately at Shema.org. The website provides lists and examples of 100 schemas, and gives detailed documentation on how to use them.
Here are four steps to get you started.
1.Learning the ropes. There are now more than 100 Schemas and the website does a good job in breaking down each into sections be most relevant to you. If in the past, you’ve tried to add rich snippets markup before was almost potluck. There weren’t a lot of options.
Here are a few popular types:
Creative works: CreativeWork, Book, Movie, MusicRecording, Recipe, TVSeries
Embedded non-text objects: AudioObject, ImageObject, VideoObject
Place, LocalBusiness, Restaurant
Product, Offer, AggregateOffer
2. Learning the language. The Schema vocabulary is extensive but it’s also applicable to every web page on the Internet. If you are planning on developing a comprehensive SEO plan, you’ll have to know how to navigate the vocabulary pages. It may seem obvious but the best place to begin is the Getting Started document. Here you will learn how information within your web page can be structured through “types” and “properties” and ultimately reach a wider, more targeted audience.
3. Plan your plan. A simple audit of your website can easily help you determine which Schema types fit based on each individual Web page. The most complicated part of your plan will be organizing the data. The amount of data you collect depends on the amount of detail on its page and how tailored you want your results to be for each specific audience.
4. Testing, testing 1, 2, 3. It’s very useful to test your Web pages with markup to make sure search engines are able to parse the data correctly. As with previous rich snippets markup formats, you should use the rich snippets testing tool for this purpose. Note that while the testing tool will show the marked up information that was parsed from the page, rich snippets previews are not yet shown for schema.org markup. We’ll be adding this functionality soon.