Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Bing are collaborating once again, this time to help Webmasters maximize their efficiencies in compiling and understanding unstructured data. The new initiative, Schema, is designed to “create and support a common set of schemas for structured data markup on Web pages. Schema.org aims to be a one stop resource for Webmasters looking to add markup to their pages to help search engines better understand their Websites,” according to Google’s news blog.
The three companies first came together in 2006 to create a common set of standards for sitemaps, which was adopted widely by most Webmasters. In 2009, they reemerged together to launch rich snippets, which was designed to better represent search results that describe people or contain reviews—that initiative has expanded its reach to include products, events, recipes and other things, the Google news blog says.
Schemea.org has about 100 different categories for the structured data markups for computer professionals to utilize. They range from basic features like date and time to hyper specific categories like birth date, tire shop and optician, among others, for example.
“We want to continue making the open Web richer and more useful,” Google’s blog says.
“We know that it takes time and effort to add this markup to your pages, and adding markup is much harder if every search engine asks for data in a different way. That’s why we’ve come together with other search engines to support a common set of schemas, just as we came together to support a common standard for sitemaps in 2006. With schema.org, site owners can improve how their sites appear in search results not only on Google, but on Bing, Yahoo! and potentially other search engines as well in the future.”
The three standards previously used by Webmasters for marking up data included microdata, microformats, and RDFa. Schema uses only microdata because the groups “found that microdata strikes a balance between the extensibility of RDFa and the simplicity of microformats.” For Webmasters already using microformats or RDFa for rich snippet mark up, the three will continue to support it, but the groups encourage users not to mix formats to avoid confusion by parsers. Google also advises that rich snippets previews are not yet shown for schema.org markup.