Search Engines Unite with Schema.org

June 11, 2011

5:29 pm

Web standards are often formed with great intent to change the way we interface with the web, but lack of adoption by the giants in technology can make or break these standards. In the last decade there have been multiple initiatives to implement microformats for the web such as Yahoo’s SearchMonkey, Google’s Recipe Search, and other Microformat search adoption; yet until now, none of them have been adopted by / for search engines since the implementation of meta tags in the late 90’s. With the struggle of balancing relevancy and accuracy in web search, Google yahoo and Bing have partnered to form a solution using microformats.

Algorithms vs Markup

Content out of context is extremely ambiguous, which creates many problems for search crawlers and bots to programmatically parse markup and truly understand the meanings and scope of that content. Take for example a typical blog layout containing posts, events, html classes and asides all of which depict different content types and relationships. When a crawler scrapes the page, it’s hard for it to distinguish items like an image labelled “avatar” and decide if that means the movie by James Cameron or an image depicting a user on the website. This also creates a vulnerability for black-hat SEO tactics to try and exploit ambiguity, tricking the algorithms into preferring their site over those that may be providing more relative content to the user.

Microformats and Schema.org to the Rescue

With the adoption of microformats, web developers get a scaffolding to work with that will help them build sites that are up to par with what search engines want and need. These standards start with high level, generic blueprints, that contain subsets and specifications that describe the content on a very micro level. Like the W3 and ISO, I personally really hope that the big players in the web industry help foster adoption and get excited to see what the future will bring with more refined search.

Implementing Schema on your Website

As depicted in the picture in this post, Google has already implemented Schema into portions of search, and I imagine more priority and SEO will be based around schema over the next year. Tech Cocktail was quick to adopt the events schema for search, and will be implementing more schemas for other content types in coming weeks. Schema.org has a great set of docs further explaining what the initiative is and how to implement it with HTML which can be a time consuming, but not terribly difficult process. For those that want to stay out of their code, but get their site updated, there will be many companies offering consulting and development for Schema Integration.

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Clayton McIlrath is an entrepreneur, programmer and teacher. He enjoys the process of learning, exploring, and doing all things creative as well as sharing his experiences with others. Being an entrepreneur and business owner, he has a heart for helping others start their own ventures.

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