Bing, Google and Yahoo have teamed up to announce schema.org, an initiative to support a common set of schemas for structured data markup on web pages.
A representative for Bing tells WebProNews, "Over the past two years, Bing has worked to improve the search experience to better reflect both the evolving Web and changing consumer habits."
" While this effort has a major 'geek factor,' it serves as quite a significant advancement for both the search industry and consumers," he said.
The site will provide tips and tools for helping sites appear in search results. "It will also help search engines better understand websites, and moving forward, Bing will work jointly with the larger web community and its search partners to extend the available schema categories," the representative says. "Consumers will also benefit from this effort by experiencing richer search experiences and content from a much broader set of publishers."
"At Google, we’ve supported structured markup for a couple years now. We introduced rich snippets in 2009 to better represent search results describing people or containing reviews. We’ve since expanded to new kinds of rich snippets, including products, events, recipes, and more," says Google's search quality team. "Adoption by the webmaster community has grown rapidly, and today we’re able to show rich snippets in search results more than ten times as often as when we started two years ago."
"We want to continue making the open web richer and more useful. We know that it takes time and effort to add this markup to your pages, and adding markup is much harder if every search engine asks for data in a different way," the team adds. "That’s why we’ve come together with other search engines to support a common set of schemas, just as we came together to support a common standard for Sitemaps in 2006. With schema.org, site owners can improve how their sites appear in search results not only on Google, but on Bing, Yahoo! and potentially other search engines as well in the future."
The search engines also worked together to support the canonical tag.
Here's what the schema.org site itself says:
This site provides a collection of schemas, i.e., html tags, that webmasters can use to markup their pages in ways recognized by major search providers. Search engines including Bing, Google and Yahoo! rely on this markup to improve the display of search results, making it easier for people to find the right web pages.
Many sites are generated from structured data, which is often stored in databases. When this data is formatted into HTML, it becomes very difficult to recover the original structured data. Many applications, especially search engines, can benefit greatly from direct access to this structured data. On-page markup enables search engines to understand the information on web pages and provide richer search results in order to make it easier for users to find relevant information on the web. Markup can also enable new tools and applications that make use of the structure.
A shared markup vocabulary makes easier for webmasters to decide on a markup schema and get the maximum benefit for their efforts. So, in the spirit of sitemaps.org, Bing, Google and Yahoo! have come together to provide a shared collection of schemas that webmasters can use.
Google says it has added over 100 new types and ported all existing types of rich snippets. Where in the past it has supported three different standards for structured data markup, they will no only focus on microdata. Google says it will continue to support existing rich snippet markup formats. They also provide a testing tool for markup here.
Bing also says that while it accepts a wide variety of markup formats, it is working to simplify the choices for webmasters.