Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on May 15th, 2009

Moving Towards Structured Web

Earlier this week, Google announced that it was going to provide limited support of RDFa, a framework that gives web developers the freedom to integrate structured metadata on their websites. This is an important step towards a more structured web, something that Google has been struggling to embrace for, well, ever. It is also an important move for the Search Engine Optimization industry. Now sit back and watch the champagne sales sky rocket..

The specific ins and outs of RDFa are an entirely different blog post all together. The benefits you reap from using semantic tagging are valuable. If you were to write a blog post about “Manny” without mentioning his last name “Ramirez”, the search engine spiders wouldn’t know you were talking about Manny Ramirez, or the hot topic of his PED-positive drug test. Using RDFa, you can tag the word “Manny” with “Manny Ramirez” and that tag would be visible to the spiders indexing your post. The tag wouldn’t be visible to human readers, so they are not exposed to the extraneous text. The RDFa tags will also allow search engines to find and identify the structural data of a website and present it within the search results. Browsers should be able to interpret this data and present relevant data as well, such as maps or reviews.

Google is easing the web into the implementation of RDFa, by applying it in moderation. That hasn’t stopped the new standard from spreading to a RDFa-supported Yahoo and other sites. Once Google gives it their official, full-blown stamp of approval, the RDFa’s adoption rate will dramatically increase. This also continues, due to their already significant market share, to establish Google as the trend setter and rule maker for how search engine optimization will evolve.

Volacci’s favorite CMS, Drupal 7, will be including it by default. This is just adds to the advantage Drupal’s CMS platform and community has in web development for SEO. This can also help you avoid the faux pas of keyword stuffing, but still be able to have the keyword density that is necessary to have a good crawling relationship with the search spiders. Obviously, semantic tagging will be more important than ever before. However, it can be foreseen that this new standard may allow more ways for black hat SEO to find loopholes in search. But that just comes with the territory of creating a more structured web.

There are still many critics of how Google is implementing the RDFa, calling it a “hobbled” attempt that is ignoring some of the established uses of data tags on websites. Is their slow start to implementation is a sign of trying to avoid major catastrophes? Maybe Google’s learning curve of the RDFa is larger than those who already use RDFa wish, but the fact that Google has made this move is a great beginning to a better future. Volacci is the leading Drupal SEO company and very passionate about your online success. By the end of your contract you will have at least as much additional business from your web site as you spend on our services... or we'll work for free until you do.

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