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 schema.org. “But wait”, you might ask, “schema.org doesn’t support RDFa, does it?”. While schema.org 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 + schema.org markup while we wait for RDFa 1.1 to become official. We have just discovered that Google is not only indexing schema.org expressed as RDFa 1.0, but they’re enhancing search result listings based on data gleaned from schema.org markup expressed as RDFa 1.0!
Here’s what it looks like in the live Google search results:
The image above shows a live, enhanced Google search result with event information extracted from the RDFa 1.0 + schema.org data, including date and location of the event.
The image above shows a live, enhanced Google search result with recipe preparation time information, also extracted from the RDFa 1.0 + schema.org data that was on the page.
The image above shows a live, enhanced Google search result with very detailed event information gleaned from the RDFa 1.0 + schema.org 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:
- All of the pages contain a mixture of RDFa 1.0 + schema.org markup. There is no Microformats or Microdata markup used to express the data shown in the live search listings. The RDFa 1.0 + schema.org data is definitely being used in live search listing displays.
- The Drupal schema.org 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.
- 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 schema.org 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 schema.org module. Also thanks to Chris Olafson for spotting that RDFa 1.0 + schema.org markup is now consistently being displayed in live Google search results.