A few days ago, Search Engine Land published an interesting article explaining how Google is penalizing websites that abuse the way they use schema.orgmarkup. That post was an interesting read for me and a good lead in for this edition of Throwback Thursday.
I've written about Rich Snippets, embedding Semantic SEO techniques into a website, and the positive results of schema.orgimplementation on your website a few times since November 2010. It's tricky stuff, but it works really well.
Structured Markup In A Nutshell
Websites are written in HTML, that's short for "Hyper Text Markup Language," which is a very simple way to use code to display everything we see in a web browser.
Since the beginning of the internet, all search engines have tried to figure out what we are saying on our web pages, and how we use HTML to say it. Different HTML tags mean different things to search engines, but most of the time they do a lousy job at interpreting what we are really trying to say on our sites. Those lousy methods have lead to several magical ways to boost search engine ranking. That "magic" is what we typically call "Black Hat SEO," which doesn't work anymore.
Since 2009, Google has made incredible advances to improve their lousy analysis and turn it into, almost, artificial intelligence, but they still tend to get things wrong.
That's where the Structured Markup comes in with an augmented set of tags that tell the search engines exactly how they should interpret what they find on our pages. The website schema.org has led the way for how to use those augmented tags.
What Can You Do With Structured Markup?
There are already dozens of ways to use the schema.org tags. I use them to feed SKUs, product names, and product descriptions into Google. I also use them to clearly indicate the title of a blog post, the author's name, body, and the timestamp of when it was published.
You can see the positive results of this here.
I also use them to feed product reviews, store reviews, and blog comments into Google. Surprisingly, I've found that store reviews and testimonials that use the schema.org markup methods have a real impact on search ranking.
One Bad Apple...
Apparently, other people have realized that you can influence your SEO ranking by abusing this ability to feed testimonials into Google using schema.org markup. Search Engine Land reported that the Google Webspam Team is now assigning manual ranking penalties when you abuse these methods.
Methods of abuse include hiding text on a web page that only Google sees when reading the Structured Markup.
First of all, any time someone says they will "hide" information on a page for Google, and only Google, to find, you are automatically delving into Black Hat territory.
I went through all the sites I manage to make sure none of the schema.org markup was penalized. Nothing was. Nor did I expect anything would be.
Keep Your SEO Nose Clean
Revisit the #TBT links I included in this Nugget to find out more information about Structured Markup and examples for usingschema.org tags. Above all, don't abuse these methods, just follow the (very technical) directions and you should see improvements akin to what I've previous reported.