According to a new post by Mariya Moeva on the Google Webmaster Blog, “Since we launched the Structured Data dashboard last year, it has quickly become one of the most popular features in Webmaster Tools. We’ve been working to expand it and make it even easier to debug issues so that you can see how Google understands the marked-up content on your site. Starting today, you can see items with errors in the Structured Data dashboard. This new feature is a result of a collaboration with webmasters, whom we invited in June to>register as early testers of markup error reporting in Webmaster Tools. We’ve incorporated their feedback to improve the functionality of the Structured Data dashboard.” Read more
He notes in a posting that the release includes a schema for describing Orders and Accessibility properties applied to the CreativeWork type. The latter draws upon the IMS Global Learning Consortium’s Access For All specification and the work of the Accessibility Metadata Project. The inclusion of accessibility metadata in the Schema.org collection is designed to help people to easily find content that meets their individual needs and preferences.
Interested in how schema.org has trended in the last couple of years since its birth? If you were at The International Semantic Web Conference event in Sydney a couple of weeks back, you may have caught Google Fellow Ramanathan V. Guha — the mind behind schema.org — present a keynote address about the initiative.
Of course, Australia’s a far way to go for a lot of people, so The Semantic Web Blog is happy to catch everyone up on Guha’s thoughts on the topic.
We caught up with him when he was back stateside:
The Semantic Web Blog: Tell us a little bit about the main focus of your keynote.
Guha: The basic discussion was a progress report on schema.org – its history and why it came about a couple of years ago. Other than a couple of panels at SemTech we’ve maintained a rather low profile and figured it might be a good time to talk more about it, and to a crowd that is different from the SemTech crowd.
The short version is that the goal, of course, is to make it easier for mainstream webmasters to add structured data markup to web pages, so that they wouldn’t have to track down many different vocabularies, or think about what Yahoo or Microsoft or Google understands. Before webmasters had to champion internally which vocabularies to use and how to mark up a site, but we have reduced that and also now it’s not an issue of which search engine to cater to.
It’s now a little over two years since launch and we are seeing adoption way beyond what we expected. The aggregate search engines see about 15 percent of the pages we crawl have schema.org markup. This is the first time we see markup approximately on the order of the scale of the web….Now over 5 million sites are using it. That’s helped by the mainstream platforms like Drupal and WordPress adopting it so that it becomes part of the regular workflow. Read more
Where is SEO going? A panel hosted by Aaron Bradley, Internet marketing manager at InfoMine, Inc. at this week’s Semantic Technology & Business Conference in NYC took on the issue at full force. The session, featuring Bing senior product manager Duane Forrester, semantic web strategist and independent consultant Barbara H. Starr, Swellpath SEO Team Manager Mike Arnesen, and author and analyst David Amerland (see our Q&A with him here), provided some insight into why it’s an exciting time to be working in both semantic technology and search – and why that’s also a scary proposition for some in the SEO set who’ve lived by keywords and links.
On the exciting side of things, Arnesen pointed out that it was always a somewhat unnatural process to have to advise clients to craft content so that it can match to specific keywords to get traction. “Now we can tell them to just write good content, put what you need to put on the web and it will be easier find because of semantic markup and semantic search,” he said.
By 2016, ABI Research has it, as much as $114 billion could be saved worldwide through the implementation of online e-government services. It predicted that investment in these services is set to increase from $28 billion in 2010 to $57 billion in 2016, and that the number of users will nearly triple over the forecast period.
Here in the states, according to a 2012 survey by GovLoop, 83 percent of respondents say that they can access government-oriented customer service efforts via a website. And the number of people who are taking advantage of the ability to access information and services on government web sites is pretty significant, even going back to 2010, when the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that 82 percent of American Internet users – 62 percent of adults – were doing so. Among its findings at the time were that 46 percent have looked up what services a government agency provides; 33 percent have renewed a driver’s license or auto registration; 23 percent have gotten information about or applied for government benefits; and 11 percent have applied for a recreational license, such as a fishing or hunting license.
Given the interest in accessing information via the Internet about government services by the citizenry — not to mention accessing the services themselves, and not only in the US but abroad — it makes sense for governments to put an emphasis on customer service online. The Govloop survey finds that there’s room for some improvement, with the majority of respondents rating service a 3 or 4 on the scale of 1 to 5. Perhaps additional help will come from some efforts in the semantic web space, like a vocabulary for describing civic services that government organizations can use to help citizens using search engines hone in on the service that’s their true interest from the start.
The Official Google Search Blog reports, “To understand a broad topic, sometimes you need more than a quick answer. Our research indicates perhaps 10% of people’s daily information needs fit this category — topics like stem cell research, happiness, and love, to name just a few. That’s why over the next few days we’ll be rolling out a new feature to help you find relevant in-depth articles in the main Google Search results. Now sometimes when you’re searching for a broad topic (on google.com in English to start), you’ll find a new block of results like the [above.]” Read more
What’s new at schema.org?
According to Dan Brickley (here), changes start with two issues at the vocabulary level. The first is the addition of http://schema.org/sameAs, for disambiguating entities in structured markup, indicating when a single real-world entity is being described. The W3C proposal for the property, which essentially has the same semantics as owl:sameAs and which began life as sameThingAs, adds a property to Thing that makes it easier to indicate identifying URLs for entities being described. Reports Freebase, “This lets webmasters declare how their structured data should connect to the Knowledge Graph and opens up a lot of possibilities for mashups with the Freebase APIs.” Read more
What’s the only and biggest startup in Istanbul, Turkey that’s working on the semantic web? The answer is Dakick, says co-founder and general manager Serkan Ünsal, a service for more than 100,000 members in Turkey so far that is focused on event ontologies and creating an events recommendation engine.
Users can follow people such as celebrities, venues, movies or other performing arts, and, based on the relations it’s building among entities in its growing database, be directed to shows that a followed actor is in that night on TV, for instance, or an upcoming concert featuring the work of a followed composer.
Users can select entities to follow on its service or Dakick can collect data from Facebook and Twitter accounts, too. An issue with getting people connected with the events that matter to the entities they’re interested in, however, starts with the fact that the providers sending their movie showtimes, tv schedules, exhibition, sports, trade show, conferences, performing art, and concert information Dakick’s way don’t always have a uniform perspective on data structure, if any at all, which makes interoperability a challenge.
“In Turkey content providers typically don’t know much about data structure,” says Ünsal, so Dakick is trying to educate them to move the needle here. “We are saying to all our content providers that if you agree on a data structure it will make search engines more meaningful to list some event data.”
There’s a new Microsoft on the horizon.
In his email and memo to Microsoft employees yesterday about the company’s realignment and transformation, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer didn’t use the word semantic, or the term semantic web anywhere, or point specifically to efforts like the company’s role in schema.org or the work its Research group has conducted in its semantic computing initiative (ProBase, Contextual Thesaurus, and so on).
But to reach the goal Ballmer states of revising Microsoft’s strategy to “focus on creating a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most,” semantic technologies aimed at deriving meaning from information seem like they’ll have an important role to play.
The trend is underway for email to get smart. Gmail can leverage JSON-LD and schema.org to markup information in emails to support interactions with recipients: an RSVP Action for events, a Review Action for restaurants, movies, products and services; a One-click Action for anything that can be performed with a single click; a Go-to Action for more complex interactions to be completed at a web site, as well as Flight interactive cards to confirm reservations and and trigger a Google Now boarding pass. (See our story here about the addition of JSON-LD markup in Gmail.)
Late last week, the search giant also announced that users in its Google Search field trial now can look up Gmail contacts directly from Search. (Those in the field trial can type or speak in queries to retrieve answers in Search from Google Drive or Calendar as well.) With the Gmail integration enabled, Google says users now can do things like get quick directions to a friend’s house or one-tap access to call a contact just by asking for the person’s address or querying for the phone number.
Not to be left out of the intelligent email picture, Yandex late last week debuted Marker.
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