Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) June 2 introduced schema.org, an effort to help Website publishers improve Web search results for users.
Those top three search engines, particularly Google, take tons of flak and quips from journalists, pundits and search experts who claim results from these search results have grown increasingly laden with spam and low-quality content.
Schema.org is no spam killer, but it will allow Google, Bing and Yahoo to create a common vocabulary for structured data markup on Web pages, including little data tidbits such as restaurant ratings and reviews, movies and locations, and even cooking time for recipes.
This will help Website publishers and webmasters improve how their sites appear in major search engines, and hopefully make Website content more enjoyable and relevant for users.
Google Fellow Ramanathan Guha said schema.org work is intended to make Web info more useful. "We know that it takes time and effort for webmasters to add this markup to their pages, and adding markup is much harder if every search engine asks for data in a different way."
Bing partner program manager Steve Macbeth said schema.org will allow publishers to give us hints about what things they are describing on their sites.
"Rather than rely solely on machine learning and other AI (artificial intelligence) techniques, we asked 'what if we could enable publishers to have a single schema they could use to describe their sites that all search engines could understand?'" Macbeth wrote.
The move comes two years after Google dipped a toe into the structured data markup pool with Google search snippets. Early data snippets were designed to help searchers find better summaries of reviews and people.
Google later added recipes snippets, which are used by allrecipes.com, and events snippets, used by the likes of ticket provider stubhub.com.
The company also acquired Metaweb last July to bolster rich snippets with its Freebase treasure chest of 12 million data sets for movies, books, TV shows, celebrities, locations and companies.
Google is releasing these data sets as part of more than 100 new categories that webmasters may use to mark up their Websites. ReadWriteWeb explains how this might work.
"With webmaster feedback, we'll be able to regularly publish new schemas for sites to use and, in turn, expand the list of queries with rich results," Guha added.
Websites that already include microformats or RDFa supported by rich snippets will still appear with rich snippets on Google.