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Embracing Data Structure Is the Future of SEO

  |  January 12, 2012   |  Comments   |  

Search engines today are increasingly emphasizing content structure. If you are still optimizing tags and links, think again.

Google's Rich Snippets give users convenient summary information about their search results at a glance. In my opinion, it has huge implication for search engine optimization (SEO). It takes the usability of your website and puts it in the search engine results page (SERP), which greatly improves the clickability.

Rich Snippets are a step forward to the structural web. The first time I was introduced to the concept of structural web was in the International World Wide Web Conference 2001 when Tim Berners-Lee talked about the XML roadmap. I realized that the efficiency of presenting vast data files and the indexation of humongous information with relevance were impossible if the web is continuously flooded with non-structural data. The HTML tag just wasn't good enough for presenting information. The information world needed a better data definition.

If you have some database programming background, you know that when an information relationship is established and a master key is defined to point the slave records. It means a great deal for the performance of the data retrieval and will dramatically improve the efficiency of answering data queries. This is exactly how Google's Rich Snippets works - if you are willing to do data entry for Google by structuring your web page content according to the markup format, which are microformats and RDFa.

If you are always wondering how content should be formatted such as when to use <h1> or <ALT>  tags for the best SEO result, from now on, I suggest you should replace the question "how to format the content" by "how to structure the content." After all, the way you structure the content is going to help the search engines to understand what your content is about.

I have no intention to make things sound sophisticated. In fact, content structure can be as intuitive as designing a website navigation plan.

Let's think about how we present an online product catalog - all the information is presented in a table where the rows are the product listings and the columns are the data labels. The records of each row will be linked to each column for its own characteristic accordingly. This is a kind of data structure.

Now with the Rich Snippets, Google gives you a nice treat. Just follow the way to define the data and then they will be picked up, indexed, and "be there" when your customers search the information that is relevant to you. You have better control in the usability of the information and how they should be displayed in the SERP.

Go check with your content management system (CMS) administrator and see if your CMS supports the new markup format. Start embracing data structure in your future SEO plan. This is my advice.

For more information about the data schema supported by Google's Rich Snippets, visit www.schema.org.


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Eddie Choi

Eddie is the founding partner of Frontiers Digital and the Executive Director of Milton Exhibits Group. Although Eddie studied classical theory of sociology in college and has a MBA, technology always has been a passion with him. He believes that a combination of technology and communication is what the modern marketing is heading towards in the future. Eddie is a member of Search Engine Strategies Global Advisory Board.

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