Monday, June 16, 2014

The Semantic Web

The value of the semantic web

Search engines have come a long way in past 20 years. You might have noticed that search is starting to change a little bit. If you do a search on Google for “Apple Pie”  you will see a lot of results there. Most of which look like recipes. Its pretty clear that you could click on any of these and I'd go to a page that would produce a recipe.

You will start to notice that there are highlighted results. The highlighted results might have a rating. You will see the star rating that's there? They have a certain number of reviews. They have an amount of time that it will take to make the recipe and even the calorie count. Why do those results look different relative to all other result on the page? Well, its because the site owners (web designer/developer) marked up their contents (semantic web) in a very well defined way that's known to Google. Google knew that these are recipes with ratings and time and calorie counts. So it included all of that information in the search results.

If you did another Google search for the band “Shinedown” you would get results for Shinedown. With this search you'll notice that the serach has come back with some music tracks underneath the band’s name. We have information about the band Shinedown and we also have some tracks that play snippets of their music.

semantic web
The value of the semantic web
Based on the type of information that's being displayed we can make sure that the displayed content is marked up in such a way that Google can read and display it accordingly. This is done through semantic markup in HTML5. When we talk about semantic markup we talk about markup that has meaning rather than markup defining the presentation or the look of the website. Semantics then takes on two complimentary approaches. One is to look at the mark up used in plain old HTML5.

In HTML-5 we can look at the tags that have meaning behind them like, headers, footers, articles, asides and more. You can also look at links and their relationships which are also very important for semantics. 

The second approach is the standardized way of presenting a certain type of content online. Events, recipes, people, places, these are all common information on the web. Through the use of micro data or RDFa lite you can add some additional HTML5 attributes to your markup to standardize the way this information is presented. 

By doing so you help the search engines understand your content in a new way that will help in your effects to get your content indexed. The more you help the search engines understand your content the better your page rankings.

Steve Steinberger

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