A growing problem emerged in the Internet in the past couple of years. There's literally billions of websites and webpages with an infinite amount of information—all completely unorganized... A bureaucratic nightmare!
There are endless pages about movies, customer reviews, local businesses, product catalogs, and so on, and there has been no standardized way of organizing or presenting this information.
A need emerged for a universal method to make it easy for search engines to quickly recognize this information.
Hence the birth of 'meta data' or 'semantic data' markup—new technologies that can be used on your site making it easier for search engines—and other technologies—to crawl, recognize and present your content to Internet users.
Considering banging your head against the wall, wondering why you're reading such a soul-destroyingly dry topic? Well, don't throw this book or your kindle out the window just yet...
These new technologies mean you can have greater control over your search listings, make it easier for search engines to crawl your site, and achieve 'rich snippets' like the example below, with which you can achieve higher click-through-rates and get more eyeballs on your content. Think of this new technology like meta description tags on steriods. Sound good?
Why use schema.org
So now we know what we can do with this new technology, where do we start? As always with new technologies, there's an ongoing debate about the best to use—RDFa, microdata, hCards, microformats, the list goes on...
Well I won't waste your time.
Google, Yahoo and Bing joined together in 2011 to hit the data nail on the head and created a standardized approach with schema.org—a reference site for the Microdata markup technology, which allows you to cover all of your meta-data needs.
Google openly stated that Microdata, and sister-website schema.org, is their preferred technology, and made it very clear not to mix 'meta data' technologies—fear of confusing their spider.
We're here for high rankings and traffic, not a lengthy debate on each individual technology, so let's go with what Google recommends for the purposes of this book.
If you want to read up on Google's thoughts on the above, and structured data, check out the article below.
About rich snippets and structured data: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/99170?hl=en