Live from SMX West: Schema.org, Rel=Author & Meta Tagging Best Practices

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Feb 29, 2012
More Articles by Janet


The first session of my day was a session after my own heart: Schema.org, Rel=Author & Meta Tagging Best Practices. Here’s where I get my geek on!  This panel was moderated by Vanessa Fox and included Nanveet Virk of Roundarch,  Dennis Goedegebuure, VP Internet Marketing at Geeknet Inc.,  and AJ Kohn, Owner of Blind Five Year Old. Navneet VirkNavneet started by explaining that semantic markup is a way that we can give content meaning — making the content meaningful for machines. How can we annotate everything on the web to give it this meaning? Why is the idea more prevalent now when semantic web has been around for a long time? A few things are happening:

  • New technologies such as HTML 5 make annotations easier
  • New natural language search
  • Commercial benefits with adoption by Google and others
  • Web developers are more aware of it

Key applications of semantic web include:

  • Search engines (rich snippets)
  • Browsers and applications (“add to contacts” for names)
  • Enhanced data exchanges (e.g. Open Travel Alliance)
  • Semantic themed apps (ex. Wolphram Alpha)

Does it apply to you? The first requirement is structured data. It could be about anything like reviews. Is there a predefined schema for that type of data? Does the data lead to action/conversion?

  • Identify structured data
  • Define attributes and ontology
  • Mark up content
  • Validate and publish

Nanveet shared a case study for Avis Rental Car. Using schema.org for AutoRental, they were able to recognize incredible search results, with semantic pages outranking other pages very quickly. It led to incremental revenue since the launch. AJ KohnAJ was up next and focused on rel=author. He started by focusing on why you should use rel=author:

  • higher CTR (36-400%)
  • more traffic
  • more exposure
  • more fans and followers
  • personal branding
  • reduce plagiarism

So what is the rel attribute? It is the relationship of the current document to the rel attribute itself. But it was confusing and complicated. Rel=”author” was launched in June 2011. The central framework of Google+, however, helps Google verify authorship — like a handshake. How can you verify your authorship? There are many ways to do it:

  • Name and email on every post
  • Google+ badge
  • ?rel=author parameter
  • 3 link monte

You can verify authorship from multiple sites, but it is not yet available in every language. The three link monte method is composed of three links:

  1. Link from document to an author page using rel=”author”
  2. Link from author page to Google+ profile page
  3. Link from Google+ profile page to the blog by adding it under the “contributor to” link section

Use the rich snippets testing tool to see if it worked correctly. Some things may cause tool errors though, and many aren’t real erors, such as:

  • rel collisions
  • extracted snippets warning

How long does it take to show up? It varies — it can be days, weeks, months, or never! Fill out the authorship request form and remain patient. You can now track it via author stats in Google Webmaster Tools for the account you’re logged in as (so likely not for clients). Dennis Goedegebuure Dennis was the final panel speaker and focused on rich snippets. He first indicated that rel=author can improve CTR by 38%. This means that you have to be aware of it and figure out how to get it to show! One problem is that people are spamming rich snippets reviews. This can be true in very competitive spaces. Some sites are pulling reviews from other sites and using them for rich snippets, even if they don’t have the reviews on their own site. Apart from spamming, how can you be more creative and enrich a user’s experience? He gave an example of changing his profile picture at the holidays to have that show in search results. However — caution. He also said that he changed his picture too often and lost his rich snippet.

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