Schema.org just got a huge boost in popular opinion by including GoodRelations tags in its vocabulary this past month. Many people envision this type of semantic mark-up to have the power to turn the entire search process on its head. However, this technology is still in its infancy and the jury is still out on how and, perhaps more importantly, when, it will impact the future of search.
But what does that mean for the average web developer/marketer/SEO? Well, at this point, we have all seen rich snippets rendering on search engine results pages but there is much more to it than that. Crawlers are using this data to build a more complete picture of a site’s content by adding context to the sites that they are crawling. By including details in the source code of a product page like UPC numbers, related items, or a simple “isAccessoryOrSparePartFor” tag, developers can give crawlers the ability to deliver even more targeted results to consumers, without violating one’s privacy.
Unfortunately, as with all new technology, there are some barriers to innovation. The first is, although some of the biggest search engines agreed upon the mark-up process and vocabulary; they are not yet displaying all of their semantics on SERPs. For instance, if you mark up a product page with review, offer, and availability semantics, it will most likely render. However, other tags may not render with the same prominence. Another drawback is that although crawlers on the back end are utilizing this data, it is not yet beneficial to users beyond SERP visibility. That, however, is rapidly changing.
Sure, a user may know the difference between a [recorder] that captures audio and the [recorder] we all learned to play chopsticks on in the third grade but how could a crawler figure that out? Ultimately, this technology is pushing us closer to a more open web, where users can vary their search using multiple metrics. The addition of GoodRelations semantics in Schema.org mark-up is yet another way developers are adding more granularity so that crawlers can learn the intricate differences between products too.
Sure, one can add adjectives and modifiers to the afore-mentioned terms but then you are forcing the user to do the same thing. Think about Mom & Dad getting a list of supplies on back-to-school night. If they go online to buy little Johnny a [recorder] for music class, are they going to think to add the term [instrument] to the end before the click search for the first time? Probably not. However, what if they were able to identify the fact that they were looking for kid’s products, back to school supplies, or musical instruments without changing the text query? With rich snippets from Schema.org, identifying terms, specifications, and references intrinsic to specific products could open up a new world of ecommerce possibilities.
So given the time it takes to for technology to be adopted by the masses, when should one begin to optimize their site for additional semantics? Ultimately, the answer to that question lies in knowing one’s target audience, the business’ objectives, and the opportunities that exist in the market. That being stated, whoever got ahead by lagging behind? Get out there and get tagging!
Google recently exhumed meta keywords from their tombs in an effort to update the Google News algorithms. The re-inclusion of this once-forgotten field is meant to alleviate pressure on publishers forced to cram keywords into headlines and other content.
Google uses the famous “Wall St. Lays an Egg” headline from the 1929 Stock Market Crash article in Variety as an example for this change as it illustrates how publishers are able to utilize creative writing techniques to set themselves apart from one another. The keyword function then provides the context that the headline may not articulate and helps the crawlers to understand what the article is about exactly. From a search engine optimization perspective, this change creates yet another dimension to take into account, especially when it comes to authoritative clients.
The implementation of these keywords is simple but inclusion as a Google News source can seem a little scary. First, you have to make sure the Google News crawlers recognize your site. To do this, make sure your site is in accordance with Google’s technical guidelines and that article URLs are unique, permanent, and contain at least three numbers that do not resemble a year. This “digits rule” is a strategy employed by Google News to identify and separate static and non-static content. The example they provide in their help section is as follows: example.com/200/news.htm is ok; example.com/2004/news.htm isn’t. example.com/2004/1/news.html would also work.
After you’ve battened down those hatches, it’s time to reach out to Google and ask for your site to be included as a Google News source. Add a “news_keywords” meta tag along with specific and relevant terms to the code of your article pages and confirm that Google News is indeed indexing your articles.
From here you can sit back and just let the crawlers do the rest or you can continue to make your content more appealing. Similar to standard search, basic actions like adding your site to webmaster tools, submitting a sitemap to Google News and notifying Google of any updates to your site will help more of your content to be indexed moving forward.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do to optimize your role as a publisher is to create the kind of content that you would appreciate as a consumer. And although they sometimes seem frightening, originality, exclusivity, and timeliness are some of the key elements of success in the news world and the same goes for the news-search world too.
Is your eCommerce business multi-national? If it isn’t, you may want to reconsider your options for utilizing new markets to establish an eCommerce revenue stream. Numerous countries are growing at a stronger rate than the U.S. – which is no surprise considering our early adoption patterns.
Brazil is one area to look at. Forrester reports that by 2016, Brazil eCommerce will grow at a rate of 178% – a healthy compound for sure that bodes well for South America commerce. India is growing fast as well, as this fast growing nation was expected to reach 47% growth in 2011 – although a definitive metric has not been released.
66% in one year! In the country that is growing GDP at one of the fastest rates on the globe. As eCommerce and marketing executives ponder how to continue improving overall net income – one can not ignore the positive impact that establishing a Chinese eCommerce presence would bring to an innovative brand.
If the current eCommerce platform that you utilize provides the framework for establishing a “mirror” site within an alternative language, getting a roadmap developed for China makes business sense.
Certain challenges will come of course. Translating your content, nailing payment processing, dealing with any government challenges, and establishing a staff and distribution location are some of the potential roadblocks.
Master Baidu - The Google of China
Also your business will need to be on Baidu, the “Google of China”. With 83% market share of search within the world’s most populated country, with the majority of the country yet to go online, the ability to out-execute Chinese national companies from a marketing perspective exists. The key: Getting the right talent. Look to re-locate U.S. based eCommerce directors – assuming they speak Mandarin and are familiar with Chinese merchandising patterns.
If you are interested in discussing Chinese eCommerce opportunities and how to migrate your store within this new market, contact us – or learn more about our eCommerce consulting.