By now the announcement of a collaborative project by the big search engines to create a vocabulary for encoding metatada for people, places, and things, is old news. Schema.org made a splash a while back, but it’s a bit hard to tell what the take-up has been like by web managers.
However, since I recently have undertaken to redesign some of my personal web properties such as FreeLargePhotos.com and SonomaValleyWineries.org, I took that as an opportunity to finally integrate Schema.org markup into my pages. In so doing I found some tools that helped me to do it that I want to highlight for anyone trying to do the same.
To make it easy to find out what markup you should put where, Google offers the Structured Data Markup Helper. First you select the type of item you wish to markup from one of these:
- Software Application
- TV Episode
- Local Business
Then you plug in the URL of one of your representative pages (for me that was a descriptive page for a winery) and hit the “Start Tagging” button. The site then loads the page and allows you to highlight representative strings of text on you page and select what that string is from the options — things like “name” or “phone” or “email”. The options are defined by the type of item you selected at that start, so it only allows you to pick relevant labels.
After marking and labeling all of the relevant metadata elements, you hit the “Create HTML” button and it shows you your HTML markup with the embedded Schema.org markup highlighted. This shows you exactly what you need to do to add structured metadata to your pages.
After you’ve done that, you can then use another one of Google’s tools to verify that it worked. Go to Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool and plug in the URL of one of your pages. It will attempt to scrape the embedded metadata from your page and show you what it has extracted. If you don’t see what you expect then you may have to fix an error. Otherwise, you’re good to go.
The likely benefits are two-fold. One is that Google and other search engines can display more full-featured and accurate descriptions of individual search results that have such markup. Another is that search engines may give results that have such markup more “juice” in results ranking. In other words, it is very likely to be worth the little effort it might take to embed this markup in your pages. And if your pages are generated by a CGI script as mine are, then there is very little excuse not to.