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SNHU - IT-648 - Advanced Website Design and Management
Written by: Chris Bell - April, 2016

Schema.org and Metadata Tactics



Schema.org uses metadata to define nouns so that search engines can populate the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) more accurately for searchers. For example, mentioning the noun "Avatar" could be in reference to the popular movie or a small profile picture. Surrounding the appropriate area with a <div> tag will allow the developer to include Schema.org metadata that defines "Avatar" as either a movie or a profile picture. When search engines pool together one million URLs that mention Avatar, they can easily use Schema.org metadata to drastically shrink the amount of results for the searcher. In general, the web pages of a website include the representation of many facts, some of which are an instance of concepts (object types and properties) defined in schema.org while others are an instance of concepts that are not defined in schema.org (Olive & Tort, 2015).

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Experienced web developers might consider it easy to implement the Schema.org metadata into the HTML tags of a web page, while beginners find it incredibly difficult. However, if you've ever added a class attribute to a <p> or <div> tag (<div class="table1">), you can implement Schema.org metadata. As the HTML file is mentioning the movie Avatar the developer would also use a Schema.org attribute <div itemtype="http://schema.org/Movie">. The movie has many more attributes, just like a cars has many models that can and should be defined. If the director or trailer of the movie are mentioned there are metadata attributes for that as well. There can also be a description, unique or not, that can be inputted for more clarification. That way, when a search types in "Avatar director", the SERP can find Schema.org attributes in which contain the "movie" and "director" for a clear answer to give the searcher. Movies have interesting properties such as actors, director, ratings. To label properties of an item, use the itemprop attribute. For example, to identify the director of a movie, add itemprop="director" to the element enclosing the director's name (Schema.org).

If Google knows that my website is discussing the movie Avatar due to the added Schema.org attribute, then Google will display my website in the results before a website that doesn't have the additional metadata included. It's clear to search engines because Schema.org is a standard that could be followed as a better optimization practice. The definition of properties in context is a task that must be done by domain experts. However, a tool (like ours) may make it easy to define at any time a new enrichment, ensure that it satisfies all relevant constraints, and make it available for all future dialogue generations (Olive & Tort, 2015). A sample of 10 billion pages from a combination of the Google index and Web Data Commons provides some key metrics. In this sample 31.3% of pages have Schema.org markup, up from 22% one year ago. On average, each page containing this markup makes references to six entities, making 26 logical assertions among them (Guah, Brickley, & Macbeth, 2016). Search engines are still ranking websites without Schema.org metadata, however if two websites mention Avatar and only one has the Schema.org code, then it will be ranked higher in the SERPs. So, it's not as much about penalizing websites as it is about giving positive points to those websites that incorporate the Schema.org metadata..

Metadata Matrix


Meta Tag Definition Attribute
Title The title of the website page used in search engines as the hypertext link to the page in the search results. <title>Chris Bell</title>
Description The description of the website page used in search engines as the description under the hypertext link. <meta name="description" content="text">
Keywords Keywords that describe the website page per the developer. Sometimes used by search engines to understand the content of the page. <meta name="keywords" content="text">
Author Defines the author of the website page's content so that others cannot steal or copy it. <meta name="author" content="text">
Robots The developer can define whether they want robots following, or not following (index, nofollow), the website. <meta name="robots" content="index, follow">
Copyright This meta tag defines the company and copyright laws behind the company for search engines to easily find the real company for searchers. <meta name="copyright" content="Chris Bell Company">
Language The language meta tag tells the search engines the languages used within the website. Multiple languages can be defined if there are more than one used. <meta name="language" content="English">
Refresh "Value" needs to be defined in seconds, so that Google can refresh the website page every value seconds. <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="value">
No Follow This meta tag stops search engines from following the link to the next website page. SEO scammers use this on external links because they think it will help their rankings if they don't use external links. <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.chrisbell.com">Chris Bell</a>
Cookie Turn cookies on and off by using the cookie meta tag. Turn them off if you want privacy, but turn them on if you want your history to be remembered in a few minutes. <meta http-equiv="set-cookie" content="name" date">



Both websites, Lenovo.com and deseretnews.com, use a lot of meta data in their sections. Both websites also use Schema.org, however I saw that Desert News incorporates more of Schema.org meta data within the HTML code rather than just the <head> section. Desert News uses the itemprop="image" markup from Schema.org, for example. Overall, Schema.org seems like something all web developers should incorporate into their website because search engines will favor those websites that do in the SERPs. Also, Google may realize, and increase rankings, for websites that use Schema.org meta data simply because it's difficult to implement. The fact that more experienced web developers are able to incorporate Schema.org meta data may in fact be enough to say that those websites are more developed to the standard practices of web development.


References:


Guha, R. V., Brickley, D., & Macbeth, S. (2016). Schema.org: Evolution of Structured Data on the Web. Communications of the ACM, 59(2), 44-51.

Meta Tags. The Meaning of All the Different Meta Tags and How to Use Them.
Retrieved from: http://www.metatags.org/all_metatags

Olive, Antonio & Tort, Albert (July, 2015). Data & Knowledge Engineering. An Approach to Website Schema.org Design. Volume 99, September 2015, Pages 3-16.

Schema.org. Retrieved from: https://schema.org/docs/gs.html