Three biggest rivals in web search engine market are coming together for ‘microdata standardization’ initiative—Schema.org. The word microdata might have ringed a bell as it was one of the exciting feature declared in HTML 5. Microdata is nothing but matadata or extra information about content in a webpage. Let me explain with an example.
<h1>Avatar</h1> tells the browser to display the text string “Avatar” in a heading 1 format. However, the HTML tag doesn’t give any information about what that text string means—”Avatar” could refer to a hugely successful 3D movie, or it could refer to a type of profile picture—and this can make it more difficult for search engines to intelligently display relevant content to a user.
Many sites are generated from structured data, which is often stored in databases. When this data is formatted into HTML, it becomes very difficult to recover the original structured data. Many applications, especially search engines, can benefit greatly from direct access to this structured data. On-page markup enables search engines to understand the information on web pages and provide richer search results in order to make it easier for users to find relevant information on the web.
A shared markup vocabulary makes easier for webmasters to decide on a markup schema and get the maximum benefit for their efforts. So, in the spirit of sitemaps.org, Bing, Google and Yahoo! have come together to provide a shared collection of schemas that webmasters can use.
This change will not affect look of webpages at all but then if you are wondering how exactly this works under the hood, continue to read. You need to have some knowledge of basic HTML.
Original code without microformat looks like this.
<div> <h1>Avatar</h1> <span>Director: James Cameron (born August 16, 1954)</span> <span>Science fiction</span> </div>
After adding microformats, same code will look like:
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Movie"> <h1>Avatar</h1> <span>Director: James Cameron (born August 16, 1954)</span> <span>Science fiction</span> <a href="../movies/avatar-theatrical-trailer.html">Trailer</a> </div>
Notice the code in red color. It confirms that the word ‘Avatar’ is used as a movie and not as a type of profile picture. The target of Schema.org is to find and standardize these formats (here its ‘movie’), so that webmasters can use those in their websites and it will help search engines to recognize the content(here its ‘Avatar’) unambiguously. This way search engines can show the exact or results to users rather than mixture of results for movie Avatar and profile picture type Avatar.
This is a long process and a big initiative. I’m sure it will improve standard of information on the websites in future and thus helps building future web.