Schema & Authorship

It’s been a year since, a joint alliance between Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, provided a common foundation for sites to provide microdata and enhance rich snippets. We’ve also had Google’s rel=author tag enabling content sites to help identify their authors on the site and across the web. Beyond these, other meta tags have either gained prominence or become less important. This session looks at how to get the most out of these opportunities.

For more on this session, search Twitter hashtags #smx #21A

Moderator: Elisabeth Osmeloski, Managing Editor, Search Engine Land (@elisabethos)

Q&A Moderator: Eric Enge, CEO, Stone Temple Consulting (@stonetemple)


Benu Aggarwal, President, Milestone Internet Marketing (@milestonemktg)
Matthew Brown, Founder, AudienceWise
Rick DeJarnette, President, The SEO Ace (@rickdejarnette)
David Weichel, SEO Manager, CPC Strategy (@DavidWeichel)

Elisabeth opens by asking how many of you are using rel=author? [Some hands]. How many of you have had trouble getting rel=author to work? [A lot more hands.] Great! [For you!]

Rick DeJarnette

What is Google authorship markup?

Google’s attempt to attribute author credit to expert content.

The Google SERP will show additional info, including a head shot and a more link. Hopefully.

They require a verified digital identity. Owned by Google.

Link your content to that ID.

3 ways to do it:

The 3 link method

Author bio page as the hub. Your posts link to your author bio page, which links to your Google ID

The 2 link method

Implemented later for people without an author bio page. Link directly to the Google ID, and have that link to the blog.

E-mail verification method

As long as the e-mail address is registered to the same domain as the content, you can do this. It’s not even a last resort. You can just do this.

Google is happy with any of these methods, none is preferred.

Set up your Google+ Profile

With a headshot.

Enable +1s

Go into the Other Profiles section and add links to your other profiles on the web.

Consider adding information about your occupation, employers, and other pertinent info that demonstrates your authority.

Then copy the 21-digit number of the Google+ profile ID.

To set up the 3 link method

In the author bio page add a link to your G+ profile using the anchor text Google+. In the anchor tag, add the attribute rel=”me”

Each content page: Add rel=”author” to the existing author bio

Google+ profile: Add a link to the author bio page in the Other Profiles.

2 link method

Each content page: Add a link to the G+ profile using anchor text Google+. Add rel=author

Google+ profile: Add a link to the site’s home page in the Contributor To section

e-mail verification

Google’s pushing this now, because it’s the simplest IF you have an e-mail address on the domain to which you’re publishing.

WordPress challenges

WordPress strips all the anchor tags out, which makes this all difficult. Google suggests a workaround to a 3rd party plug-in site. Which has a big warning on it. Unless you’re sure that your authors are both trustworthy and unhackable, don’t do this. So you’re better off not using the 3-link method for WordPress.

Validate the markup code

[Validating is for wimps]

Browse to the Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool. Follow the instructions. Green is good, red is bad.

Wrap up

Focused on rel=author, but rel=publisher is important too, for businesses. Some people have found that if you put rel=publisher on teh entire site it will kill the rel=author. So just use rel=publisher on the hoem page.

For more, see the Definitive Guide to

Next up is:

Matthew Brown

I’m going to focus on the Semantic Web. Entities, not keywords.

Google launched knowledge graph a few weeks ago. They just built a container off to the right with the data they’ve always known about from open structured data bases. You want Google and Bing to look at you as someone they trust for these things.

Bing isn’t doing any better but they have more moxie. Ad Duane Forrester said, “Mark your shit up!”

The big gorilla in this space is Facebook. Put opengraph tags on your site. SocialCam turned on OpenGraph and that turned on all sorts of things. If you’re marking with Schema, mark with OpenGraph tags too.

Structured Data Tools

Schema Creator

MicroData Generator. More for local businesses. This doesn’t replace what you need to do with Google Places and local search.

Rich Snippets Testing Tool.

AJ Kohn has a bookmarklet that’s great.

Bing’s markup validator is better than Google’s.

Even better is at

Sindice searches structured data on the semantic web. It will help you see the competitive landscape.

On they have a section of proposed data types. If I’m in the health space I want to be the first to mark these things up. Things like recipes and reviews are saturated. But for new schemas, you want to be first.

Why should I care?

“Just make great content!” Sure, that’s good. But it gets harder to make useful new content. Best Buy gave a demo. If you take linked data of zip codes and combine that with weather info you can sell umbrellas or air conditioners.

BBC has a full architecture on this. BBC tells you how they’re going to publish data from their DB for the Olympics. They’re telling you their whole architecture.

Point Blank SEO ahs the Content Marketer’s Guide to Visualizations. Look at that.

Getting started

Great overview at seoskeptic,com/seo-semantic-web/

Everything is based on data triples.

The query language is called SPARQL. If you know SQL or Excel it’s easy to learn SPARQL.

Bob DuCharme is on Twitter and he’s super helpful, and you should buy his book to learn SPARQL and dig into the semantic web and build databases.

Kasabi is great for finding and publishing data sets.

DBPedia is the database version of Wikipedia. This is what Google is using when it shows Wikipedia.

NY city is about to release all their health scores from restaurants. You can create a mobile app. Or an infographic. Lots of opportunities.

Drupal has functionality to find and consume semantic data.

LODSPeaKr is a simple publishing kit for linked data. Example: Farmers market app just pulls data, there’s no HTML work.

Add Semantic Tech

Need to understand entitites. People, places, organizations, objects. Justin Briggs has a great article on this.

[Shows a reading list.]

The amount of SEOs who are really in this game: single digits. Follow people like @MFHepp @LinClark @Gkellogg

He’s @matthewjbrown.

And now:

Benu Aggarwal

You’re trying to convey real meaning to search engines.

Here are examples from the Travel space. You can’t do this manually. You have to do this with a tool, or in the CMS.

Go to and figure out what you can use. Find your vertical.

Pick a handful of schemas.

If you’re using breadcrumbs, you can deploy schemas right away.

Can you do reviews? If you can bring people to your site you just need name, e-mail, comment, rating.

Schemas deployed on things to do.

Event calendars are great. We just launched an event calendar. Start date, finish date. Ranking great.


High visibility, high CTR, high ranking for long tail keywords.

This is still new. Great opportunity.

Our bounce rate went from 75% to 29%.

Long tail conversion increased for all internal pages.

>50% increase in revenue.

Key takeaways

  • Identify the right vertical
  • Find changes you can make on the CMS level
  • Can help significantly with traffic, bounce rate, revenue
  • Try to improve freshness / trust signals. Try asking for reviews. Moderate them.
  • Ensure reviews have schemas and rating functionality integrated

David Weichel

What we learned from Rich Snippets Abuse still has the rich snippet showing up.

itemtype is seo.

They have a link to a clients testimonial page.

Very similar, but the itemprop name is Reviews and Testimonials. That’s more of a div header. They’re not showing up.

They have the same schema markup, same internal page with client testimonials, both are doing this only on the home page.

Sole difference: itemprop=”name”

Should be set to the product / service offering, not Reviews & Testimonials.

So we decided to test the Schema markup

Added the schema code, tested it in Rich Snippets tool, Google took it, Bing and others didn’t.

Issues with their implementations:

  • Reviews were made up
  • Didn’t link to client testimonials
  • itemprop=”name” didn’t describe the product being sold
  • Maybe CPC Strategy didn’t qualify for Product itemtype

Value in displaying seller reviews?

Yes, as Benu pointed out. It stands out.

We saw an e-commerce site that was linking to Google Merchants.

So could we do that?

Ad schema for legitimate aggregate reviews, and link to merchant’s reviews on Google Shopping

You can curate your own reviews.

Do some competitive research.

Use SEOTools for Excel.

Key Takeaways

  • You can list ratings and add value
  • Google will regulate this better
  • Do some competitive research

Elisabeth: Thank you. And go to the Search & Retail column at Search Engine Land to get more details and strategies.

Q: When you pull data sets via SPARQL is that treated as content on your site and indexed accordingly?

Matt: Depends on the content of the page. The search engines aren’t looking at the underlying data, they’re looking at the HTML. If you do neat stuff with the data you can get it indexed. You need to look at the licensing data on the stuff you’re using.

Q: What if the author has multiple profiles. Can you link to all of them?

Rick: Yes. Multiple authors on one post is a bigger problem.

Q: Do you know a rel=author workaround for blogger?

Rick: I assume any of these tools should work. WordPress is the problem because of the way it strips tags for security reasons.

Q: Google stopped showing star ratings in restaurant reviews. Is it still worth it?

Benu: Even if stars are not showing up in a snippet, the pages where you deploy Schema will rank better. We freaked out when the stars disappeared, but there was no impact on traffic.

Matt: The schemas that came out are brand agnostic. They’re unlikely to use anything like Edmonds or Zagat.

Q: Can you use data from more than one vertical?

Matt: Sure. Get creative. Make better pages by mashing up data from different places.

Q: What about sites using snippets that probably shouldn’t be?

David: Don’t. Google is going to take action.

Q: Is there anything you can do to get your authors to take the steps to do this? Or do you have to beat them with a stick?

Rick: Beat them with a stick. If they won’t do it, create a Google+ page for them and link it.

Q: Is this just for vanity?

Rick: No. Google wants this to build trust in their results. If you’re a content developer, work with Google to promote your work.