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We’re back for coverage of panels from the second and final day of SMX Advanced 2012 in Seattle. Day two included three panels, the first covering Schema and Authorship. I’ll admit I haven’t toyed with these much in my career, so it was fascinating to learn how these things worked and how useful they can be for both the user experience, as well as SEO.

Schema & Authorship – 1 Year Later

This panel was moderated by Search Engine Land’s Elisabeth Osmeloski, and included presentations from Benu Aggarwal of Milestone Internet Marketing, Matthew Brown of AudienceWise, Rick DeJarnette of The SEO Ace and David Weichel of CPC Strategy. Here’s a look at some of the main points…

Denoting Proper Authorship Of Unique Content Is Vital – Even though I have my own blog, which I update regularly, I’ll be honest in that I never paid much attention to denoting proper authorship, at least until this panel. After seeing the presentations and listening to the speakers, I immediately jumped on getting proper authorship noted for myself and my blog. Why? Because if Google knows that you’re the author of excellent, unique and authoritative content, it not only identifies you as such, which helps make your search results more rich and useful, but it also helps you become more of an influencer, and influencers are becoming more and more important in terms of content sharing and marketing.

There are several ways to set up proper authorship notation, such as setting up Google rel code on your author bio or content pages, or using email verification. Since my blog is in WordPress, and apparently this is tricky to accomplish in WordPress without making your blog security vulnerable, I used the email verification, which worked fine and is already starting to take effect. Overall, denoting proper authorship is a great way to have you and your content gain more visibility and authority.

The Semantic Web Will Only Become More Important – Mr. Brown discussed the use of structured and linked data that help make up the semantic web, and how this data can help enhance and strengthen search results. This retreaded a bit of what was said in the previous panel on microformatting, but went into more technical detail. Rich snippets are a big part of the semantic web, but where do they get their data and how does it relate to the semantic web?

According to the W3C, the semantic web is built using RDF (Resource Description Framework), the standardized model of data interchange on the web. RDF can merge data from different sources using URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers), which helps you build schema-based rich snippets to use in search engine results. By using this data, you help build trust and authority with the search engines, and turn results into entities, which we discussed earlier. Google especially is relying on schemas more and more for rich data results, so if you have a site that offers product reviews, customer testimony and deals, this is definitely something to consider adding to your site, not only to make it more useful for the users, but also for the engines.

Use Schemas Properly – Schemas don’t work with every type of property or vertical, so it’s important to identify which verticals are right for the use of schemas. This can include items or properties, product reviews, events and comments. Schemas should be as well-integrated into your site’s architecture as cleanly as possible, so as to make the results display naturally and the search engines can pick them up easily. Schemas help build trust and freshness for your site, and should never be abused, which brings us to the final section for this recap…

Avoid Spamming/Abusing Schemas – Matt Cutts touched upon this in his You&A on day one, however, this panel went into a lot more detail. There have been a growing number of people abusing rich snippets because it’s really not that difficult to do. With just some tweaking of one’s schema code, one can say a product or service has thousands of reviews and an overall review of five stars, even if no such reviews actually exist. Schemas should always refer to actual live reviews, and if possible, these should also be linked to a testimonials page. As Google gets smarter about the use of schemas and the semantic web, you want to be sure that they’re being used properly and honestly on your site to avoid any future issues.

Overall, this was one of the more technical panels of the conference, and my head was spinning a bit when all was said and done, but I learned a lot. As schemas and the semantic web become more useful, I’m sure we’ll be learning how to offer these services to our clients as well, to make their search experience – and also their results of course – better all around. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the next recap, which covers pagination and canonicalization, another fairly technical topic.


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