HTML5, Microdata and the Rel=Attribute
Familiarizing one’s self with the modern markup languages, semantic structures and
schemas available today can yield a more engaging, easier to manage Web property.
Let’s get to know markup in this edition of Website Magazine’s Small Business Lab.
Search engines and social media networks have taken the
Web community a long way in terms of providing access
to information. While Web publishers and Internet consumers
have lived up to their end of the bargain in terms
of publishing content (exabytes of data every day in fact),
much still needs to be done to help organize that information
and of course filter through it. Structured data markup, found in a dizzyingly complex and often overwhelming
variety, provide at least part of the answer.
The most significant announcement for the broader
community of Web professionals as it relates to this was
that of Schema.org. Google, Bing, and Yahoo recently entered
into a joint initiative to support a common vocabulary
for structured data markup on Web pages. For those Internet
professionals looking to continue the success of their
natural/organic search optimization campaigns the announcement
was of particular interest.
Search engines have long supported a wide array of
markup formats in the past including RDFa, Microformats
and Microdata, but by all three major search engines
providing support for a common set of schemas, all that
remains for Web professionals is the integration. One of the
first steps they should take however is in the direction
HTML5 first emerged as a W3C (World Wide Web
Consortium) recommendation in 2007 and is expected to
be the officially recommended standard by 2014. That, of
course, affords Web professionals some time but there are
opportunities to get involved right now.
Since the release of the first draft in 2008, most major
browsers implemented support for some of the features
proposed and it began generating a lot of interest from developers
(see sidebar - Brief History of HTML5). While still
a few years away from the formal W3C standard, there are
actually many active sites using HTML5 today and they
aren’t all informational sites. (see sidebar for an example).
Open Graph Protocol & Social Meta Tags:
A few months ago, Facebook adopted Open Graph Protocol as
a standard for pulling information about pages. You can include
these new Open Graph tags on your web pages. These new
Open Graph tags allow you to specify exactly the content to
share. So instead of just scraping the web page for the data, it
will use the specified data instead. This gives you more control
to make the connection between a web page and how it’s
shared by a user on their profile or wall. Google says that
Schema.org provides more detail for the entities contain by web
pages, and Open Graph, while very well suited for what it does,
it is somehow limited, so it is not the solution needed for search.
The vast majority of Web workers however are not making
the most of this language’s potential (call it slowness to
adopt to new approaches to design); which is unfortunate as
the benefits are many — particularly in the realm of information
discovery. How can the Web community accelerate
the use of HTML5? While Web professionals could focus on the design elements of HTML5, another way is to consider the use of Microdata
— a proposed features of HTML5 intended to provide a way to embed semantic
markup into HTML documents. If success is partly reliant on information being
found and shared (and for whom is it not), then HTML5 and those standards provided
recently by the Schema.org initiative provide a framework within which Web
professionals can work more effectively.
Of particular interest recently is how it relates to authorship and the “rel” attribute.
This rel=attribute is related to HTML5 in the use of microdata. Microdata
is an HTML5 specification that provides extra semantic markup for web pages to
help machines understand what the content is more readily. The rel attribute provides
a form of microdata regarding the relationship between links and the documents
they are on.
article continues below...
HTML5 In Action: Pirates Love Daisies
out Pirates Love Daisies for
a good example of HTML5
and how they can be used
outside of traditional, information-
only sites. Game action
takes place within an HTML5
canvas element, and both
sessionStorage and localStorage
are used to store game data.
Sounds used in the game are
also played via the audio element.
HTML5 adds a new link type relationship: rel=author. What is interesting about
this link type is that it allows you to point to author pages from articles and indicate
to search engines the identity of the author. Ultimately this could reduce copyright
infringement and identify sites that scrape content more easily. And it will also
help search engines identify specific authors more directly and further establish the
authority of specific outlets and individuals within those outlets.
Including authorship information on your web articles helps search engines
provide better search results to their users and enables content marketers to get
more of their content in front of prospective customers and users. If you were a
search engine, wouldn’t you trust an article with a verified author more than an
The rel attribute has been a part of HTML for a long time. With Google taking
an interest in this attribute and Yahoo! and Bing throwing their support behind
structured data, it is likely that top Web destinations will start concentrating their
efforts on it fairly quickly — which means you should consider it too.