How will Schema impact on SEO?

On 9 June 2011, it was announced that the web’s leading search engines, Google, Yahoo and Bing, are giving their support to what appears to be a significant update to the way they will be indexing content apparently starting now and in the future.

The announcement doesn’t appear to have received any great coverage but that might simply be a misunderstanding of the impact it could have for all our websites and how they are both indexed by the big 3 and the search results they return.

What is Schema?

Schema is a collection of html tags, or more accurately, additions that can be added to existing html tags that webmasters can use to markup their pages in ways that will be more easily recognized and understood by the major search providers.

Similar to the way that the major search engines have agreed and adopted a common acceptance of sitemap format they have agreed to support‘s microdata format to extend current coding standards to help them categorise web page content more intelligently and display more relevant content to users.

Not all content will necessarily have to be marked up but for certain types of data it will add additional information making it easier for search engines to properly and more accurately index it.

The schemas are a set of types arranged in a hierarchy with each associated with a set of properties which more clearly describe the content within the type.

The types comprise and include the following

  • Creative works: CreativeWork, Book, Movie, MusicRecording, Recipe, TVSeries …
  • Embedded non-text objects: AudioObject, ImageObject, VideoObject
  • Event
  • Organization
  • Person
  • Place, LocalBusiness, Restaurant …
  • Product, Offer, AggregateOfferReview, AggregateRating

What impact will it have?

As the development of this new tagging system has been adopted and will be supported by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft it is likely that it will have a significant effect and become a new and emerging standard for making web pages as search engine friendly as possible.

As such it’s important that web designers, seo consultants and website owners have a grasp of the implications and issues it raises.

As indicated above not all content will need to be tagged and not all websites will need to utilise all the types specified.

When looking at the new schemas there is one very obvious effect adopting the new coding will have, apart from the additional work involved, and that’s a large increase in file size implementing the new tagging model.

An example from relating to the Product type results in an increase of 400% and that’s before any other layout/formatting and css is specified:-

Code before implementing Schema:-

Kenmore White 17″ Microwave<img src=”kenmore-microwave-17in.jpg” />Rated 3.5/5 based on 11 customer reviews
$55.00In stock
Product description:0.7 cubic feet countertop microwave. Has six preset cooking categories and convenience features like Add-A-Minute and Child Lock.
Customer reviews:
Not a happy camper – by Ellie, April 1, 20111/5 starsThe lamp burned out and now I have to replace it.
Value purchase – by Lucas, March 25, 20114/5 starsGreat microwave for the price. It is small and fits in my apartment….

After microdata coding:-

<div itemscope itemtype=””>  <span itemprop=”name”>Kenmore White 17″ Microwave</span>  <img src=”kenmore-microwave-17in.jpg” />  <div itemprop=”aggregateRating”    itemscope itemprop=””>   Rated <span itemprop=”ratingValue”>3.5</span>/5   based on <span itemprop=”reviewCount”>11</span> customer reviews  </div>
<div itemprop=”offers” itemscope itemtype=””>
<span itemprop=”price”>$55.00</span>    <link itemprop=”availability” href=”” />In stock  </div>
Product description:  <span itemprop=”description”>0.7 cubic feet countertop microwave.  Has six preset cooking categories and convenience features like  Add-A-Minute and Child Lock.</span>
Customer reviews:
<div itemprop=”reviews” itemscope itemtype=””>
<span itemprop=”name”>Not a happy camper</span> –    by <span itemprop=”author”>Ellie</span>,
<time itemprop=”publishDate” datetime=”2011-04-01″>April 1, 2011</time>
<div itemprop=”reviewRating” itemscope itemtype=””>
<meta itemprop=”worstRating” content = “1”>
<span itemprop=”ratingValue”>1</span>/      <span itemprop=”bestRating”>5</span>stars  </div>
<span itemprop=”description”>The lamp burned out and now I have to replace it.  <div itemprop=”reviews” itemscope itemtype=””>    <span itemprop=”name”>Value purchase</span> –    by <span itemprop=”author”>Lucas</span>,    <time itemprop=”publishDate” datetime=”2011-03-25″>March 25, 2011</time>    <div itemprop=”reviewRating” itemscope itemtype=””>      <meta itemprop=”worstRating” content = “1”/>      <span itemprop=”ratingValue”>4</span>/      <span itemprop=”bestRating”>5</span>stars    </div>    <span itemprop=”description”>Great microwave for the price. It is      small and fits in my apartment.</span>  </div>  …</div>

But the real question is, If we don’t implement the new coding schema, what impact will it have on our search page results rankings? Will pages more fully implementing the new standard be ranked higher for being more considerate to our search masters?

What do you think the effect might be?

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