Smart Snippets: Semantic Web Comes of Age

On Aug. 3 Forbes published an article “The Semantic Web Comes of Age” by Kurt Cagle. “Beginning in 2017, both Google and Bing announced that they would be supporting the use of embedded smart snippets in web content. A smart snippet is a bit of JSON that uses schema.org tags to identify what a web page contains. Google would read the snippet and create a much more comprehensive record about that page than is done now for SEO searching. Smart snippets would have greater weight in search algorithms, and because such snippets could in fact be fairly complex, it would be possible to describe individual resources within these snippets in machine readable ways.”  Today, schema.org maintains nearly six hundred distinct “smart” types (e.g. Event, MedicalEntity, Organization, Person, LocalBusiness, Restaurant) in areas as diverse as CreativeWork, Book, Movie, Recipe, and much more. Link

“When a smart snippet is encountered, not only can the search engine get a much better idea about what the web page is about, but it is now able (if the snippets are set up properly) to actually describe things themselves. When Google reads that snippet, it actually creates a record about a particular book as a book, not simply as content on a web page. If you are looking to find books that are in the urban fantasy genre, feature a female doctor protagonist, is typically a two hour read, and is under $3 in price, Google will be able to bring up this particular book. Not only that, but because the book has a unique identifier, different reviewers can weigh in (from potentially multiple platforms) and these annotation reviews can then be linked to this identifier. Other applications can also read this same page and get this same information, and from it add other links that can be picked up by Google or other web applications.

This is called a knowledge graph, and it fulfills one of the basic visions of the Semantic Web when Web creator Tim Berners-Lee first described it publicly in a 2004 Scientific American article.”

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