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October 3, 2012

Schema 101: Why the New Meta Data Matters – SMX East 2012

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Day 2 of SMX East comin’ at ya, and New York was very good to us last night. If you’re in the city, you have to check out the tapas restaurant Las Rambles. Soo delish. But back to the topic at hand. In this session, we’re talking Meta data, which can also be delish because there’s lot of cool things you can do with it these day to help your website become more relevant and attention-grabbing. You can check out the hashtag for this session at #21C on Twitter.

SMX East Logo

Barbara Starr (@BarbaraStarr) of Ontologica INC is up first. She is presenting this from a search engine perspective and is going to talk a bit about what this new Meta data can do.

Search engines use Schema.org for their own purposes:

  • They can directly extract information to enhance SERPs.
  • You can search directly on consumed Meta data. One example of this is the Google Knowledge Graph.
  • It also helps with user intent.
  • It can help with what content to show to what audience.
  • It exposes the long tail of content – makes things findable.

It’s worth looking at the correlation between the new Meta data and vertical search engines. Do you want your site to be relevant for those?

She says there are so many things you can do with Meta data that she can’t address all of them. The problem was the vocabulary on the Web was disjointed. The search engines wanted to start defining the vocabulary to streamline it.

Don’t stuff your pages with RDFa that doesn’t match the information on the Web pages. This is cloaking.

Schema.rdfs.org – there is a lot of useful stuff in there. Check it out.

Matthew Brown (@MatthewJBrown) of AudienceWise is up next. He is going to talk about how to get a strategy going if you’re doing publishing.

5 steps to Schema:

  • Check out Schema.org page on Google Webmaster tools. It changes and is updated without notice.
  • Look in your vertical of which SERPs have rich snippet data to see what others are doing.
  • Set success metrics. Look at when click-through rates jump up or go way down; that’s when you know you’ve done well with rich snippets.
  • Stay patient. It can take up to 30 days or more for Google to start showing it.
  • Learn more about the Knowledge Graph. This is an important step.

If you’re considering marking up products in Schema, you might also consider marking them up in Open Graph for Facebook.

Be choosy about what you mark up; he’s seen too much markup slow sites down. Pick a markup type and start there and see if it slows it down.

Tools:

  • Webmaster Tools: shows if Google is picking up your data types.
  • Structured Data Testing Tool
  • The Bing tool. Shows you different data types on the page like Open Graph as well. The tool is just hard to find.
  • Schema Creator from RavenTools.
  • MicrodataGenerator.org
  • WordLift: Extended semantic markup for WordPress. In beta.

Open Graph tools:

  • Facebook Object Debugger: Shows what might be missing, how it’s working, etc.
  • Facebook Open Graph plugin.

Structured data tools:

  • Sindice.com: Semantic Web search engine. Great for competitive analysis. See what sites are doing with the data.
  • SIG.MA: See how semantic info is searched and aggregated.

Reading material:

Carrie Hill (@CarrieHill) of KeyRelevance is up. What schema markup should you use?

The problems you face:

  • Competing with a large-name website.
  • A lot of local competition.
  • Everyone else has the same style search result.

She is talking about how her small blog outranked Overstock for a coffee maker review – the only review she had on her site because she implemented rich snippet data. Reviews are a great way to take advantage of schema markup but a lot of people don’t do them. You can review anything on your site that you want to — restaurants and more.

Other things you can do:

  • Recipes with ZipList.
  • Marking up events.
  • Products – you can only put markup on one product on a page. But you can markup multiple offers on a page. Ebay does this well.
  • Locations – if you have an address on a page, have markup.

Run all your changes through Google’s Page Speed tool to make sure you’re not slowing the site down too bad. And every time you make a change, go to the Structured Data Testing tool to se that it’s working.

Some topics that came up from the Q&A:

  • Once you spam with rich snippets and get caught, there is no reinclusion for schema.
  • You have to have a good site first, and then use markup — it’s not a shortcut.
  • If you have content creators that are also technical and marketing savvy, they are the people that should ideally be doing markup. Otherwise, the tech person can implement with help of the marketing person.
  • We are in the very beginning stages. You need to be doing it before your competition does. It’s going to blow up.
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