Richard Wallis at SMXL 2017 Speaks Structured Data & Semantics
I started working with Structured Data about 5 years ago. The scarcity on information made it extremely difficult to “get my head wrapped around this” as Richard mentions later on in his article, especially because I am not a coder and knew (at that time) very little about anything that went beyond Meta Data.
As this technology becomes widespread the need to understand how it works is extremely important. Marketers with a certain ambition who will want to emerge as “experts” must undertake the challenge and understand the underlying principles. There is no need to become a data scientist, but you’ll need to understand the basics to manage your content and deploy Structured Data strategies using tools like Schemaapp.com or WordLift.
This is yet another reason for me to propose tis panel as Chairman of the event and be the moderator. This panel, “Structured Data & Semantics – How are they Changing Search?” is one of the most advanced of SMXL this year on the SEO track.
Structured Data – Schema.org – Semantics
- Schema.org where did that come from?
- What is Structured Data?
- Why is it important to the Search Engines?
- How do I apply it?
- How will it change things?
A brief look at the history of the development of the World Wide Web shows that they have been on a parallel path from the very beginning, heavily influenced by the Semantic Web and Linked Open Data, building on the technologies we all understand, such as:
Until recently their use has been confined to the somewhat specialised world of openly linking datasets across the web.
Driven by a need to:
- more accurately understand the world
- the things within it
- the relationships between them
Google and the other major Search Engines have all started to pragmatically adopt the core principles of these techniques as a way to get us to provide more detailed, actionable descriptions of what our web pages are about.
The SERP placement of a site or page reference and the consequent generated traffic to your website is still a key concern. Increasingly however it is not the only concern.
Where will your product or service feature in the answers given by Siri, Alexa, Google Home?
Does a search engine have enough information to answer a user need, with your services, without the need to send them to your site, or your competitor’s?
Applying Linked Data to your web pages using the Schema.org vocabulary, as described for example on the Google developer pages, is basically a simple task (once you have got your head around the basic principles) but like anything else it needs a bit of thought if it is going to scale to large sets of information.
It needs you to think beyond simple keyword labelling, to the structured description of things (Persons, Organisations, Products, Books, Events, Recipes, etc.). Each of these needing an identifier, name, creator, organiser, supplier, etc., and preferably links to descriptions of the same things provided by others.
At first glance, like any newly introduced aspect of a technology, using Schema.org to add structured data to web pages looks complex, but because it is based upon web technologies and principles, it is no more of a leap of understanding than most of the web developments over the last few years.
Because its objective is to help Search Engines satisfy user needs in the most efficient way, without necessarily always directing users’ browsers to your pages, it may however require some future creative thinking in the area of analytics and impact measurement.
More of that as best practices emerge and become established.