Posted June 3, 2011 2:08 pm by with 7 comments

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If you think about it, search engines are pretty smart. They can look at a block of text on your website and make a decision about whether you’re discussing the Stanley Cup playoffs or your grandmother’s chili. But as smart as they are, they can’t always pick up on the nuisances of a page and that’s where comes in.

Google, Bing and Yahoo! have all announced their participation in the program and that’s gotta be some kind of landmark, right? Like Mr. Macy and Mr. Gimble shaking hands with Santa Claus? The idea is to develop a singular markup language for microdata sets that will allow all search engines to pick up on like bits of information across a variety of webpages.

Now, without the tech speak. Schema is a way of telling all search engines that Supernatural is a TV show but supernatural is a word to describe a paranormal event. Then it goes one better, it categorizes small bits of information like how long it takes to cook a recipe so I can see right from the search engine if I have time to make stuffed peppers.

Google started doing this with their Rich Snippet program. It’s used for recipes, events, people and reviews. Schema introduces dozens of new types including movies, TV shows, products, local business and restaurants.

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Let’s say you run a restaurant. By including the new tags to your webpage, you can specify what forms of payment you take, your average price point, type of cuisine and hours. Now, when I go searching for a place to eat, I can see right away that you’ll take my Discover card but the guy down the street won’t, so guess where I’m eating tonight.

How easy is it to implement? I’m not sure. You’ll have to understand HTML and have access to the coding of your website. If you have multiple pages that use the same item type and format you could create a template to use over and over. For example, if I had single pages devoted to each of my favorite TV shows, it would be simple enough to build out one then duplicate and trade out the information on the rest.

Is it worth it? The experts say yes. The rumble is that this is the future of SEO and if you aren’t speaking the native language, then you’re going to get overlooked. Is that going to happen tomorrow? No, but you want to think seriously about slowly adding these tags to your website a little bit at a time.

With schema running behind the scenes, the search engines will have the ability to slice and dice information ten ways to Sunday and that’s good news for both search users and marketers hoping for a click.

  • nola.

  • Is that a huge step?

  • Was stunned to see them coming together on this one. Really thought the days of search engines helping each other to better the experience for the end user were long gone!

  • Wow unbelievable.

  • Great to see this happening – great to see the search engines collaborating on something that will ultimately make their own services more effective for the searcher.

  • Tom

    After all the cat fighting between them and Google accusing Bing of copying their results i can’t believe they’re actually going to workn together! Hopefully it will give us even better results in the SERPS though which is all of their end goals anyway. Good to hear!

  • Richard Owen

    Interesting to see the three collaborating, great article, I was wondering what you thought about SEO tactics being aimed at the two lesser search engines (Yahoo & Bing) and whether you thought this was a worthwhile strategy given Google’s dominance over the industry.