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Google’s Next Semantic Web Move

We all love Google.  And I’m not just saying that because I would love to work there.  Sure, there are other search websites, but for general use, Google works best for me.  And I’m not saying that because it usually brings me to the right Wikipedia page as the first result, or the cool logos.  They get the whole metadata thing.  They get the whole “The Web As A Database” thing, as does Yahoo.

Just the other day, Google announced on their Webmaster Central blog a new technology that will allow web devleopers to specify content for their website’s Rich Snippets (I found this on Dries Buytaert’s blog post, posted on a LinkedIn group).  Rich Snippets are tiny sections of a website that appear next to the link on Google’s search results page.  Depending on the kind of website, it might show reviews of the company/product, contact information for that person, etc.  That information is automagically derived from that page and related pages.Here’s an example:

Rich Snippets example

Rich Snippets example

What they are now doing is letting web developers add semantic content to their website identifying reviews, personal contact information, relationships with others, product information, and information on businesses.  They search for this metadata in several formats, including XFN and RDFa.Now we’re beginning the process of opening up this successful experiment so that more websites can participate. As a webmaster, you can help by annotating your pages with structured data in a standard format.  By the way, I commend them for including several markup formats.  One of the big obstacles to the semantic web really taking off is that there are too many competing formats with too little advantage over one another.

To display Rich Snippets, Google looks for markup formats (microformats and RDFa) that you can easily add to your own web pages. In most cases, it’s as quick as wrapping the existing data on your web pages with some additional tags.

By incorporating standard annotations in your pages, you not only make your structured data available for Google’s search results, but also for any service or tool that supports the same standard. As structured data becomes more widespread on the web, we expect to find many new applications for it, and we’re excited about the possibilities.

To ensure that this additional data is as helpful as possible to users, we’ll be rolling this feature out gradually, expanding coverage to more sites as we do more experiments and process feedback from webmasters. We will make our best efforts to monitor and analyze whether individual websites are abusing this system: if we see abuse, we will respond accordingly.

Here is a link to the documentation. I hope to find a way to shove this down WordPress‘ throat by the end of the weekend (most likely a hack to my theme). If you don’t hear from me by Monday, call for backup.

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May 16th, 2009 Posted by | No comments
Categories: Computers | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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