Looks like Google is going to be getting more into the semantic web game, according to this article from the WSJ.
“Over the next few months, Google’s search engine will begin spitting out more than a list of blue Web links. It will also present more facts and direct answers to queries at the top of the search-results page.
“Google isn’t replacing its current keyword-search system, which determines the importance of a website based on the words it contains, how often other sites link to it, and dozens of other measures. Rather, the company is aiming to provide more relevant results by incorporating technology called ‘semantic search,’ which refers to the process of understanding the actual meaning of words.”
My guess is that Google will be using Schema.org markup, since that is what drives its +1 buttons for metadata, as well as potentially doing a bit of scraping/AI on existing content. Now would be a good time for all developers and content creators to evaluate how they are using semantic markup and make sure that they are up to par.
I have implemented Schema.org markup on this site through my Schema.org Twenty Eleven child theme. If you are using Twenty Eleven also, feel free to download it and start using it as well. You can read more about and download it here: Twenty Eleven Schema.org Child Theme. There is much more you can as well, specifically in adding custom and appropriate markup to individual posts/pages, but it provides a good start.
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Since the announcement of the Schema.org standards for microdata back in the summer of 2011, I have wanted to incorporate the new conventions into WordPress. At first I considered writing a plugin that would add information dynamically, but this didn’t seem to be a very efficient route. Instead, I have decided to extend the default Twenty Eleven theme that is already gorgeous and well-defined, and create a child theme that builds the microdata standard directly into the template.
Adding microdata to your site has several benefits. First and foremost, you contribute to machine readable data everywhere. The Internet is a wonderful place for humans to browse, but we can make it more accessible and more consumable if we let the computer figure as much of it out as it can. Second, search engines can use this data to get a better understanding of each page that it indexes, and hopefully provide more relevant search results. (Notice that I am not saying you are going to get an SEO boost for doing this. You may, you may not, I have no idea. But if everyone included this data on their sites, the results would be better.) There are no downsides really to simply plugging the data in.
If you are using Twenty Eleven as your theme and would like to add Schema.org microdata to your site without any effort on your part, give this child theme a try. You can download it for now from my Twenty Eleven Schema.org Child Theme page. Eventually I hope to add it to the WordPress Theme repository, but it needs some testing before it’s ready to head over there.
Hope it helps!
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