If you’re a frequent reader of Evolutionary Designs then you’ll have seen James writing about rich snippets and semantic web markup before. For those of you not familiar with the terms I’ve written a brief summary below. If you want to get straight to the article then just skip the explanations.
Semantic markup – meta data that specifies what a string of text is referring to. By adding semantic markup to a document you enable bots to easily identify different page elements. This enables richer snippets to be displayed in search engines.
Rich snippets – in this sense a snippet is when your link appears in Google. A rich snippet is when you have more data appearing next to that link, it could be a picture of the author or a star rating for a review of a movie.
Restaurant review rich snippet from Urban Spoon
What is Schema.org?
Before Schema.org there were two ways to add semantic data to your website. RDFa and microformats, I’ll not go into detail about this but basically they’re the Atari Jaguar and HD DVD of the semantic data world. Because there was no one standard the major search engines didn’t fully support their use and they didn’t really add anything to the user experience.
Then the major players in search collaborated to design HTML5 microdata which they all support. Schema.org is a library of that microdata markup.
What does this mean for me?
It’s important to note that other forms of semantic markup still work. So if you’re using Microformats you won’t necessarily see a sudden loss in functionality. However the Schema.org microdata is the only format that Google, Bing and Yahoo! have all agreed to support.
This means that as future search products come out that rely on semantic data are going to be built to support HTML5 microdata.
If you don’t do any web dev work then it should make absolutely no difference to you. The markup requires no changes to design so if an SEO wants to talk to you about Schema.org markup then buy them a coffee – because you don’t need to do anything.
What is possible with Schema.org?
There’s some seriously cool stuff that you can do.
Rich snippet for apps.
For apps you can add review ratings, price and the platform that carries it.
Rich snippet for events.
For events you can add locations and dates.
Rich snippet for products.
For products you can show pricing and review ratings. There is also the future potential of including availability data as well.
Rich snippet for recipes.
Google has really gone to town on recipes. As well as seeing review data and cooking time you can even see calories.