How will schema.org impact your website’s SEO?

June 8, 2011
How will schema.org impact your website’s SEO?

The big 3 search engines announced a new initiative on June 2, 2011 to support a common vocabulary for structured data on web pages. Schema.org is the site where the semantic web vocabulary is documented by Google, Bing, & Yahoo.

The Basics

Before you bounce off to the next article let’s back up and cover the basics. Semantic web is a concept where all of the various bits of data available all over the web are put into context and related to one another. An important part of making this happen is creating a way for computers to see the data on a website and “understand” what it means and how it is related to other data.

So without getting too technical, the schema.org project outlines a way to tag all of the data on your site and show how it is related to other data on your site and across the Internet. The actual implementation of this on your website can get very complex.

Where the rubber hits the SEO road

What you and I are really interested in is: how does this make a difference on my website search rankings?

That’s easy. This initiative is the clearest blueprint on how to get your information into search results that we have ever been given. By tagging your website data with the right vocabulary based on schema.org you can help Google, Yahoo, & Bing know exactly how relevant that data is, plus where and how it should be displayed along with other results.

An Example

If you have an ecommerce site selling sunglasses, you could add the schema.org vocabulary attributes to your products. This will let the search engines know that your product is a product, as well as the name, description, url, images, make, model, manufacturer, brand, reviews, price, stock level, condition, etc that are related to that product. Then when someone searches for a pair of New Oakley Antix polished back with warm grey lenses for $100 or less and in stock quantity, your result could be displayed — because the search engine would know that all of that information is related to the product on your site.

As you can see, the power of explicitly declaring to the search engine which piece of information belongs to what other pieces of information cannot be understated. This is a game-changer. Businesses that focus only on keyword optimization within the content without considering the semantic vocabularies like schema.org will quickly fall behind.

How to get started

The truth is that it can be very complicated and/or time consuming to implement the schema.org vocabulary on your site.

  • You need to understand how to add these vocabularies to your HTML markup, or be able to hire someone who understands how it is done.
  • Next, a detailed analysis of your site and its data is undertaken to plan out how the various elements are related.
  • If you have a content management system like Drupal underneath your site, then the actual tagging can be automated once everything has been mapped and configured.

Being a first mover on this new schema could provide some substantial short term SEO advantages for a few years until the competition catches up and the schema.org vocabulary has been ubiquitously applied. At that point it will become as necessary as keyword optimization is today.  I would encourage you to make plans for implementing the schema.org vocabulary on your site in the near future so that you can capitalize on the early benefits before your competition.  This will be the secret weapon to better search engine ranking for those with the budget and knowledge to implement it.