So, today Google announced that article markup from schema.org is actually going to be used for something! I’m super stoked, but I only have 10 minutes to drop my thoughts on it (I set a timer), so let’s get right into it!
Google made an announcement today that they’d like to enable users to find in-depth articles on broad topics via Google search results. That’s an admirable and awesome goal; not just letting people search by topic, but by a highly-refined type of content about that topic (not just limited to websites, news, blogs, images, videos, etc). In the official post, Google said that in order to make that feature of search a reality, they’ll be leaning on some specific factors, notably…
- Schema.org article markup – Yes!
- Authorship – Yeah, you know what a sucker I am for Authorship. This announcement is fantastic reassurance that Authorship is still a big deal to Google. For more on why Authorship is still a big deal, check out this insightful post by Mark Traphagen.
- Proper pagination (when applicable) – For more on that, check out this great post by Audette.
- Organization logo markup – I’m not sure why this is relevant to in-depth articles. I can think of plenty of sites that don’t really have a logo but that publish super in-depth content. Well, we have it on SwellPath.com, so we’ve got that going for us.
Of course, all of these neat factors are in addition to the actual in-depth content they’re looking to highlight.
Drilling down on article markup
I’ve long been a proponent of using HTML5’s article tag (<article>) and just recently started implementing this bad boy from schema.org:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/article”></div>
Go ahead and apply that tag to all your blog post content for a start. It’s super easy to tweak your WordPress template to do that. Just go to Appearance > Editor, then navigate to “Single Post / single.php” or similar. Then find the div for the main content block and drop in your tag.
Now keep in mind, adding one tag is just the start. All that the above semantic article tag is going to do is tell a search engine (or other application) that the entity you’ve specified is an article; it doesn’t specify anything else about the article. When Google starts to get serious about using semantic markup in their results, they’ll typically lay out what properties of an entity you’re required to define. Even though Google hasn’t progressed to that point with article markup yet, we can easily speculate about what fields we should consider using and which ones may be required.
Based off of the documentation at schema.org, I think these are the important ones to pay attention to.
- Name: The name of the article. Definitely required. You can apply this tag to your blog post title. Props to Aaron Bradley for pointing out that you can also double-up here and specify your post title as a “headline”, too!
- Date Published: The date the article was first published. Definitely required. Since Google’s focusing on the quality of articles as a resource, we can only imagine they’ll want to know the date a piece was first published.
- Author: The author of the article. Possibly required. Since Google already has other ways of determining who’s authored a piece of content (i.e., rel=”author”), this might be redundant.
- Article Body: This tag defines the text content of your article. Definitely required. Apply this tag to the div that wraps your post content. In my case (with a 20XX theme), it’ll get added to the <div class=”entry-content”> tag.
- Image: You can even specify an image (or images) that’s associated with your article. Likely optional.
Here’s an example of what the completed code would look like.
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > <h1 itemprop="name headline">Post Title</h1> Posted on <meta itemprop="datePublished" content="2013-01-01">01/01/2013 by <span itemprop="author">Author Name</span> <div class="entry-content" itemprop="articleBody"> <p>The full text of the article. Next up, we have an image that we can associate with the article.</p> <img src="/mike.jpg" itemprop="image" /> </div> </div>
Go ahead and throw that into the SDTT to see what Google can pull out.
While this update isn’t going to revolutionize search by any means, I like how it illustrates Google’s continued emphasis on promoting and navigating a semantic web. It’s a beautiful thing. This is an awesome day for search marketers like me who’ve been advocating semantic markup and structured data to management (internally and externally); we now have another example to point to that shows that semantic markup is actually worth something, rather than just saying, “trust me, guys. This thing is going to take off.”