Semantic Web in SEO: Theory and Practice

Almost since the beginning of the web’s commercial birth, the limitations of HTML have been glaring. ┬áThe “good enough” technology, the epitome of Worse is Better has been apparent with the web. HTML was never a great language for describing documents, XHTML was a disaster, and HTML5 is slow to come alive and clearly designed for committee… but it was good enough, worked well enough, and let business prosper. CSS took over a decade to come into wide-spread use, but the combination and simple-to-use Javascript has made it work.

Google’s “snippets,” and “break-out boxes” and “menu links” have all been efforts to figure out website and make it more useful for searchers. The growth of Schema.org and structured data and it’s role in web search has been both fun and fascinating.

For small businesses looking to promote themselves, the important area to pursue is Local Search. While Local Search does involve “Map Search” and “dropping pins,” providing regional content with appropriate markup can also yield big dividends. Creating a page targeting a city you work in, combined with a Review, a job/event you’ve done, and other aspects, all marked up with Metadata, can create a relevant piece of content to promote your business in that city.

Breadcrumbs have been a mainstay of navigating websites since Yahoo pioneered the practice, but their usage has fallen by the wayside. Single page sites, focus on shallow content (keeping all content at root level), and designers general aversion to breadcrumbs has been challenging them for years. Alternatively, sites that organize their content in an intelligent hierarchy, supply breadcrumbs, and tag those breadcrumbs with metadata might find their search results having an extra row with the breadcrumbs.

The return of deep content for long tail searches and breadcrumbs to manage them will help promote proper site design, information architecture, and deep content. If Google can promote this change by including an extra line in the search results, that’s a great use of using their power for good.

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