Why do we care about schema?

Last week, we learned about Google’s new joint-initiative with Bing and Yahoo! to create schema.org. Google announced that the three major search engines are working together to standardize web site creation so that webmasters can optimize their sites for all three versions of the SERPs. That’s all very interesting, but why do we, as SEO experts, care about schema?

Since it is designed to help the search engines better understand a site’s content, the sites that utilize schema.org will see their content being recognized as relevant. The joint initiative provides webmasters with a collection of “schemas,” also known as html tags, so that they can elaborate a bit on – or, in technical terms, “mark up” – their content in ways that the major search engines can understand. These new schemas allow you to put tags in the header on your home page, and specify everything about your content up front. Basically, they constitute a universal language that all of the major search engines can understand. If you speak the universal language, rather than a language only Google understands, then Bing and Yahoo! can also understand what is on your site.

Why do we care about schema?

Here is a list (directly from schema.org) of what you can use the new mark-ups on:

– Creative works: CreativeWork, Book, Movie, MusicRecording, Recipe, TVSeries

– Embedded non-text objects: AudioObject, ImageObject, VideoObject

– Event

– Organization

– Person

– Place, LocalBusiness, Restaurant …

– Product, Offer, AggregateOffer

– Review, AggregateRating

These new schemas will help Yahoo!, Bing and Google discern your content and improve the relevance of search parameters. They will be able to place your site in the results more closely related to your site’s content so that those people using the search engines to search for your services can find you more easily and more quickly.

Schema.org uses the example “Avatar.” If I simply say “Avatar,” the search engines don’t know what exactly about Avatars I am going to discuss. However, if I say (or, in technical terms, add in additional microformats), “This site is about the 3D movie, Avatar,” plus information about who was in the movie, etc., I am allowing the search engine to engage with my content and discern its relevance to certain searches.

Additionally, this new format can help your business with its Google Places listing because it allows you to tag your location and contact information. By tagging all of this information about yourself, you are helping the search engine to better understand that you are referring to your business. This optimizes your content and it gives you credibility.

There are a ton of cool things you can do with the new schemas, so if you are interested, visit schema.org.