Google Indexing RDFa 1.0 + Markup

Full disclosure: I am the chair of the RDF Web Applications Working Group at the World Wide Web Consortium – RDFa is one of the technologies that we’re working on.

Google is building a gigantic Knowledge Graph that will change search forever. The purpose of the graph is to understand the conceptual “things” on a web page and produce better search results for the world. Clearly, the people and companies that end up in this Knowledge Graph first will have a huge competitive advantage over those that do not. So, what can you do today to increase your organization’s chances of ending up in this Knowledge Graph, and thus ending up higher in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)?

One possible approach is to mark your pages up with RDFa and “But wait”, you might ask, “ doesn’t support RDFa, does it?”. While launched with only Microdata support, Google has said that they will support RDFa 1.1 Lite, which is slated to become an official specification in the next couple of months.

However, that doesn’t mean that the Google engineers are sitting still while the RDFa 1.1 spec moves toward official standard status. RDFa 1.0 became an official specification in October 2008. Many people have been wondering if Google would start indexing RDFa 1.0 + markup while we wait for RDFa 1.1 to become official. We have just discovered that Google is not only indexing expressed as RDFa 1.0, but they’re enhancing search result listings based on data gleaned from markup expressed as RDFa 1.0!

Here’s what it looks like in the live Google search results:

Enhanced Google search result showing event information
The image above shows a live, enhanced Google search result with event information extracted from the RDFa 1.0 + data, including date and location of the event.

Enhanced Google search result showing recipe preparation time information
The image above shows a live, enhanced Google search result with recipe preparation time information, also extracted from the RDFa 1.0 + data that was on the page.

Enhanced Google search result showing detailed event information with click-able links
The image above shows a live, enhanced Google search result with very detailed event information gleaned from the RDFa 1.0 + data, including date, location and links to the individual event pages.

Looking at the source code for the pages above, a few things become apparent:

  1. All of the pages contain a mixture of RDFa 1.0 + markup. There is no Microformats or Microdata markup used to express the data shown in the live search listings. The RDFa 1.0 + data is definitely being used in live search listing displays.
  2. The Drupal module seems to be used for all of the pages, so if you use Drupal, you will probably want to install that module if you want the benefit of enhanced Google search listings.
  3. The search and social companies are serious about indexing RDFa content, which means that you may want to get serious about adding it into your pages before your competitors do.

Google isn’t the only company that is building a giant global graph of knowledge. Last year, Facebook launched a similar initiative called the Open Graph, which is also built on RDFa. The end-result of all of this work are better search listings, more relevant social interactions, and a more unified way of expressing “things” in Web pages using RDFa.

Does your website talk about any of the following things: Applications, Authors, Events, Movies, Music, People, Products, Recipes, Reviews, and/or TV Episodes? If so, you should probably be expressing that structured data as RDFa so that both Facebook and Google can give you better visibility over those that don’t in the coming years. You can get started by viewing the RDFa examples or reading more about Facebook’s Open Graph markup. If you don’t know anything about RDFa, you may want to start with the RDFa Lite document, or the RDFa Primer.

Many thanks to Stéphane Corlosquet for spotting this and creating the Drupal 7 module. Also thanks to Chris Olafson for spotting that RDFa 1.0 + markup is now consistently being displayed in live Google search results.


Got something to say? Feel free, I want to hear from you! Leave a Comment

  1. Interesting post!

    We looked at integrating RDFa support in our CMS ( first, but when chose Microdata we used this instead

    We have integrated deeply with, so that every item in our datamodel can be mapped to entities in
    We can already see how it improves SEO

    Now, we might need to consider RDFa support aswell

    Here is an example site:

    Here is an example search:

  2. Julien says:

    Nice article, but the font rendering in your screenshots really hurt my eyes 🙂

  3. H.E.A.T. says:

    Unless I am misunderstanding the phrase “ expressed as RDFa 1.0”, then this is exactly what should have done from the beginning: create a search vocabulary (or ontology).

    A lot of developers chose Microdata over RDFa not because Microdata is a superior format, but because the major search engines used it…and SEO is king these days for a lot of folks.

    Maybe if would have conceded to the superior format (RDFa) at the start, RDFa 1.1 would already be a recommendation (usage facilitates development and implementation). Maybe now, the W3C can get back on track and make RDFa the viable option for the web.

    (and bring XHTML back into the race. the web does not need HTML5.)

  4. Ramesh says:

    Did you submit the tiaifictnoon form, as well? If the markup tested satisfactorily, it shouldn’t take more than two months, maximum, for snippets to show up. However, if you did submit, but your submission had any complicating factors, such as any hidden text, that could be the reason. I suggest you contact Google and query them on it, just in case there’s an issue with your submission.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. A Data 7th Wave Approaching | Data Liberate
  2. Google’s Knowledge Graph to Change Search Forever -
  3. Google Indexing RDFa 1.0 + Markup | The Beautiful, Tormented Machine | Semantic Web Technologies |
  4. The Flap of a Butterfly Wing -
  5. Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : On the talismanic fight between RDFa and microdata
  6. Google and the Knowledge Graph | Web Search Guide and Internet News

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