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Schema.org Providing a Richer Web Experience from Major Search Engines
Friday, June 03, 2011

A fairly substantial announcement from the major search engies with the anouncement of schema.org.  Schema.org is basically an accumulation of schemas such as HTML tags that can be used by webmasters to markup their pages to provide more information to the search engines.  Not unlike meta data, which is data about data, schema.org provides access to structured data that the search engines can display in their search results.  According to the schema.org site,

On-page markup enables search engines to understand the information on web pages and provide richer search results in order to make it easier for users to find relevant information on the web. Markup can also enable new tools and applications that make use of the structure.
Benefit of Schema.org:  Schema.org provides a collection of shared vocabularies webmasters can use to mark up their pages in ways that can be understood by the major search engines: Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!

This is a good thing as it can further help search engines determine what a page is actually about, especially if there are semantic differences with a given topic or object (say "Apple" as an example).

What is Microdata?

Microdata is a proposed feature of HTML5 intended to provide a simple way to embed semantic markup into HTML documents. - source wikipedia.  Really not unlike metadata, microdata is still data about data, but specifically is data about objects that have properties.  A common example used is the "person" object that has a number of variables such as "name", "age", "address" etc.  Microdata is simply the data about these objects.  More on microdata here.

Example of markup with and without microdata markup - from Wikipedia

Typical Markup about  a page with informaiton about a person:

Same markeup with microdata:

Vanessa fox posted a great piece on the schema.org announcement where she answers the question "What About Microformats & RDFa?"

While Google and Yahoo both have supported their use with their rich snippets and SearchMonkey programs, respectively, neither format is supported as part of schema.org. However, the engines say that the existing support for these formats will continue (even though they imply they’d like you to switch. From the FAQ:
“If you have already done markup and it is already being used by Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo!, the markup format will continue to be supported. Changing to the new markup format could be helpful over time because you will be switching to a standard that is accepted across all three companies, but you don’t have to do it.”
There are a lot of SEO benefits to using microdata.  Here is one example.  Think of the information that a business can share if they have multiple locations or branches.  Using microdata pertaining to an Orgaization > LocalBusiness can be very useful for searchers and users.  http://www.schema.org/LocalBusiness

Announcements from the Big 3 Search EnginesGoogle: Introducing schema.org: Search engines come together for a richer web
Bing: Introducing Schema.org: Bing, Google and Yahoo Unite to Build the Web of Objects
Yahoo: Introducing schema.org: A Collaboration on Structured Data

Additional Resources

Schema.org - http://www.schema.org/
Getting Started with Scema.org - http://www.schema.org/docs/gs.html
Microdata Format - http://dev.w3.org/html5/md-LC/

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posted by Jody @ Friday, June 03, 2011  
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