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Html5 and Schema.org tags overlap?
aristotle




msg:4632720
 8:36 pm on Dec 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

I recently converted an old site from xhtml to html5 and am now thinking about converting some other sites too, since I plan to keep these sites for many years to come, and think html5 might be better for the long term.

I want to use elements such as <article>, <section> and <nav> on my new html5 pages, because they might help search engines understand the structure better. But I've found out that Schema.org has some tags that seem to have the same function. For example, compare:

<article> vs. <div itemscope="itemscope" itemtype="http://schema.org/Article">

and
<nav> vs. <div itemscope="itemscope" itemtype="http://schema.org/SiteNavigationElement">

I haven't studied the use of Schema.org tags in detail yet, but it appears that some of them have the same meaning, or approximate meaning, as the corresponding html5 tags.

So my question is, should I choose one or the other, or use both. I prefer the html tags because the schema.org tags are clumsy and bloated.

It has also occurred to me that the two types might be combined as follows:

<article itemscope="itemscope" itemtype="http://schema.org/Article">
and
<nav itemscope="itemscope" itemtype="http://schema.org/SiteNavigationElement">

Does anyone have any advice or opinions about the best way to use these tags?
thank you

 

graeme_p




msg:4632811
 7:55 am on Dec 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

HTML5 seems to have a lot of momentum at the moment.

Schema.org has better backward compatibility BUT there are scripts that add HTML5 support to IE7 and 8 which fixes that problem.

Also, Schema.org and HTML5 are not exact equivalents. Take "article". Schema.org says:

An article, such as a news article or piece of investigative report. Newspapers and magazines have articles of many different types and this is intended to cover them all.


i.e. pretty much the everyday use of the word when discussing written material.

The HTML5 spec says:

This could be a forum post, a magazine or newspaper article, a blog entry, a user-submitted comment, an interactive widget or gadget, or any other independent item of content.


This is much broader, and there could be many of these on a page, of different types (e.g. a blog post with comments with widgets on the page).

lucy24




msg:4632818
 9:15 am on Dec 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

It has also occurred to me that the two types might be combined as follows:

<article itemscope="itemscope" itemtype="http://schema.org/Article">
and
<nav itemscope="itemscope" itemtype="http://schema.org/SiteNavigationElement">

Absolutely. Nothing in here is mutually exclusive. If you have an element whose content coincides with some piece of markup, attach the "itemscope" or whatnot to the existing tag rather than create a whole new div or span just to hold the markup.

It's really no different from attaching a class or id to an existing <p> or <li> rather than making a whole extra <div> just to hold the desired class or id features.

schema.org markup is for search engines. html is for browsers.

JD_Toims




msg:4632837
 11:13 am on Dec 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

schema.org markup is for search engines. html is for browsers.

I would venture to guess Google, Bing and most other search engines have document outlining algorithms in use for trying to better understand content on a page and how "pieces" relate to each other, so I think it's better to go with: schema.org is for search engines only, but HTML is used by both browsers and search engines.

Search engines have been very good at determining repeated menus, breadcrumbs, etc. for years based on HTML markup, some of which includes the use of class names from the HTML, so thinking they aren't "all over the HTML" trying to figure out "the point" someone is making is likely false.

aristotle




msg:4632891
 5:08 pm on Dec 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the replies. So apparently it's best to use both types of tags.

Oddly, in the examples I've found for internal navigation menus, the <nav> tag isn't used at all, and the Schema.org tag is stuck into the <ul> tag, with some more code bloat added to the links themselves. The result looks something like this:

<ul itemscope="itemscope" itemtype="http://schema.org/SiteNavigationElement">
<li><a itemprop="url" href="URL1"><span itemprop="name">Anchor1</span></a></li>
<li><a itemprop="url" href="URL2"><span itemprop="name">Anchor2</span></a></li>
<li><a itemprop="url" href="URL3"><span itemprop="name">Anchor3</span></a></li>
.
.
.
</ul>

But I'm going to follow Lucy's advice and put the Schema.org tag into the <nav> element. I haven't got far enough yet to check the validation, but am sure that it will be okay.

graeme_p




msg:4632904
 8:17 pm on Dec 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

There is also ARIA to consider:

its now incorporated into HTML5 and there are more overlaps. It is meant for a different purpose and will get different support, so does that mean we should support it was well?

[w3.org ]

aristotle




msg:4632919
 9:52 pm on Dec 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

There is also ARIA to consider:

I looked at your ARIA reference. This might not be ready yet, because at the top of the page it says:

"This Wiki page is edited by participants of the WCAG Working Group. It does not necessarily represent consensus and it may have incorrect information or information that is not supported by other Working Group participants, WAI, or W3C. It may also have some very useful information."

From what I can see, this might be intended for making pages more accessible to people with poor vision or other handicaps.

graeme_p




msg:4632958
 5:05 am on Dec 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

It is in the current draft of the spec as well:

[w3.org ]

I linked to the other pages because it has some examples that demonstrate the overlap.

Yes, it is intended for a accessibility, but it does mean you can end up with markup like:

<nav itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/SiteNavigationElement" role="navigation">
aristotle




msg:4633342
 1:38 am on Dec 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well I've decided to forget schema.org tags, at least for now. I had intended to use schema.org/Article and schema.org/SiteNavigationElement, and had incorporated them into my basic page design earlier today. But now I've taken them out because I really don't see how they add any information that the html5 <article> and <nav> tags don't already provide.

I also looked through a long list of other schema.org tags and didn't see anything that I would likely ever want to use.

So I'm going to use "pure" html5. The code will be cleaner and neater this way too.

graeme_p




msg:4633385
 7:01 am on Dec 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

schema.org/Article is significantly different from <article>.

Can anyone tell me how well search engines support HTML5? They have explicitly said they use schema.org information, but I cannot find similar statements about HTML5.

JD_Toims




msg:4633404
 10:45 am on Dec 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

I cannot find similar statements about HTML5.

I can't find the official list of the 200+ factors Google uses or even the official list of all the factors Bing uses -- Maybe you can point me in their directions, because if it's not officially explicitly stated, then they must not understand or use it, right?

Added: I can't even find where Google or Bing say they understand or use HTML at all, even though they can find canonicalization and links and breadcrumb navigation and products/lists not explicitly marked up with microdata and titles and descriptions -- I wonder how they do it?

-- What do you think the odds of them writing their algos to understand the current recommendation for the language every webpage uses [HTML] are: Good or not so good?

aristotle




msg:4633414
 2:32 pm on Dec 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

In doing some more reading, it appears that Google is encouraging everyone to use Schema.org tags. I'm still not going to do it at this point, since I don't see any value in them. But I'm wondering why Google encourages their use. Can someone please explain?

phranque




msg:4633463
 9:15 pm on Dec 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

why?
it's a Google initiative.

lucy24




msg:4633475
 11:23 pm on Dec 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

But I'm wondering why Google encourages their use. Can someone please explain?

It depends entirely on your personal attitude toward google.

Interpretation A: Use of markup helps search engines guide human users to the site that will best serve their needs. (Et cetera, you can look up gwt or schema.org or site of your choice for longer explanation.)
Interpretation B: The more markup you use, the more information a search engine can extract and put into its own format, obviating any need for people ever to visit your site at all.

aristotle




msg:4633482
 12:07 am on Dec 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

Lucy wrote:
Interpretation A: Use of markup helps search engines guide human users to the site that will best serve their needs. (Et cetera, you can look up gwt or schema.org or site of your choice for longer explanation.)

I think that's probably the main goal. But the Schema.org system of tags is of little use for the type of websites that I create. If I were to use them thoughout one of my sites, the main effect would be a lot of unnecessary code bloat. Maybe a few Schema.org tags could be useful on some types of sites, but most of them seem superfluous to me.

JD_Toims




msg:4633495
 12:27 am on Dec 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think that's probably the main goal.

I agree.

Maybe a few Schema.org tags could be useful on some types of sites, but most of them seem superfluous to me.

Sometimes they really are helpful in defining things, but you're correct, at other times they're totally unnecessary -- There are sites I don't even bother with microdata on, because it's really not necessary to "further define" anything presented, which is one of the reasons why I think things are most accurately presented as "situational", even though people seem to be looking for "hard and set" rules to follow.

The web and the information presented doesn't lend itself well to "absolutes" the way some things do, so if you can look at your site and the information presented and see you don't need the schema.org markup on your site to "further define" things, then, imo, you should not bloat your code, because even < half a second of load time can make a difference in user interaction/satisfaction according to the testing done by Google a few years ago.



Personally, basically, I follow the recommendation for HTML5, then add to it as necessary with schema.org or ARIA roles -- So, yes, I will "bloat my code" with explicit sections rather than depending on hN to create implicit sections, because it's the recommendation, but if ARIA or schema.org markup does not "further" or "more granularly" define what the HTML presents, then I leave it off, because speed matters.

drhowarddrfine




msg:4633555
 4:16 pm on Dec 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

Note that the schema.org things are not tags but attributes. They have nothing to do with any outline algorithm for search engines but will apply to how they are displayed on search results.

You can add or subtract schema attributes and it in no way affects the display of the page in a browser and it never will.

aristotle




msg:4633675
 5:44 pm on Dec 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Here's the basic code for a link:
<a href="URL">Anchor Text</a>

Now here's the same link with the schema.org attributes added.
<a itemprop="url" href="URL"><span itemprop="name">Anchor Text</span></a>

I just don't see what the additional Schema.org code accomplishes. Can someone please explain to me why its addition is desirable or necessary for either browsers or search engines?

phranque




msg:4633743
 11:45 pm on Dec 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

itemprop="url" standing alone adds nothing.
within the context of an itemscope of an itemtype it is one piece of a data structure.

aristotle




msg:4633757
 12:45 am on Dec 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

itemprop="url" standing alone adds nothing.
within the context of an itemscope of an itemtype it is one piece of a data structure.

I'm not sure I fully understand this. My example was meant to be a stand-alone link. But i don't know exactly how Schema.org code is supposed to be used, so if my example code is wrong maybe someone can correct it.

phranque




msg:4633771
 2:12 am on Dec 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

according to schema.org, a URL isn't a "thing" it's a data type used to describe a "thing".
using microdata to mark up a stand-alone link is similar to mentioning that something is "blue" without mentioning what "it" is.

graeme_p




msg:4633820
 10:41 am on Dec 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

itemprop=url provides a canonical URL for the current "thing":

[schema.org ]

A use that comes to mind is linking a snippet/excerpt to the full article.

Ummmm, maybe I should be doing that on at least one site.

@JD_Toimsm my pokint is that:

1) Google have made it clear the do support schema.org
2) All they have ever said about HTML5 is that they will support it when its sufficiently widely used.

As we do not know whether point 2 has been reached its safer to assume that is has not been, until most sites are HTML5

There is also a risk that HTML5 will be widely misused: a lot of the tags are often misunderstood. The history of semantics in HTML is hardly encouraging - look at <dl> which is misused more than it is correctly used. If this happens to semantic HTML5 search engines may not pay attention to it.

I also cannot understand the point of adding section tags if search engines are going to interpret the page exactly the same was as without them. Adding tags that make absolutely no difference is bloat - and you are going to have to add more bloat to make IE8 and below understand them.

aristotle




msg:4633826
 2:38 pm on Dec 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

There is also a risk that HTML5 will be widely misused.

What about the Schema.org attributes? Can't they be misused too?

according to schema.org, a URL isn't a "thing" it's a data type used to describe a "thing".

Well i thought that browsers and search engines already knew what a URL is even before Schema.org existed, regardless of whether it should properly be called a "thing" or not. But to get back to my main point, the simple basic code for a link:
<a href="URL">Anchor Text</a>
already tells browsers and search engines all they need to know, and including the typical Schema.org attributes doesn't add any new information.

drhowarddrfine




msg:4633835
 5:34 pm on Dec 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

I also cannot understand the point of adding section tags if search engines are going to interpret the page exactly the same was as without them.

Such tags were not necessarily created for search engines but for layout algorithms; publishing if you will. It gives the creator the ability to section off content and copy or serve it elsewhere without change and reasonably expect it to display the same, at least as far as the HTML outline is concerned.

Yes, older browsers like IE will need help understanding these things but you do that for IE and older browsers now.

graeme_p




msg:4633878
 7:10 am on Dec 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

@aristotle, I have not seen as many people misunderstanding schema.org, and those who do are more likely to simply not use them. I misunderstood the <aside> tag myself. Schema.org is more complex, but because it is also more specific it is harder to get wrong if you read the docs.

As for the point of itemprop=url, look at the example I linked to. It provides a canonical URL for a section of HTML. A simple link does not indicate that relationship. <a href=... says this is a link, adding the schema.org markup says, "this link points to what this thing (which can be part of a page, not a while page) is about".

Such tags were not necessarily created for search engines but for layout algorithms


User agents will also use the same implied outline algo, so, again, for most pages wrapping everything in section tags will make no difference.

It also means more to do for IE.

aristotle




msg:4633963
 8:56 pm on Dec 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

It looks like some of the misuse of Schema.org code is intentional. Here is a quote from [seroundtable.com...]

A month ago, we reported an issue with fake rich snippets showing up more often in Google's search results. In short, some webmasters were faking their rich snippets and spamming Google with it.

Today I see Pierre Far from Google posted on his Google+ page that you can now report rich snippet spam to Google

lucy24




msg:4633972
 9:19 pm on Dec 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well, anything that can be gamed will be gamed.

aristotle




msg:4633987
 10:40 pm on Dec 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

As for the point of itemprop=url, look at the example I linked to. It provides a canonical URL for a section of HTML.

My earlier example doesn't involve a canonical URL, so you're talking about a different example. So in my view, what I said about my example still holds

phranque




msg:4634008
 5:32 am on Dec 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

your example is incomplete as there is no itemscope, so you are correct that including the typical Schema.org attributes doesn't add any new information without also specifying which attributes describe what.

graeme_p




msg:4634012
 7:47 am on Dec 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

@aristotle, you are not supposed to use it unless you want to indicate a canonical URL. That is what it is for.

I do not think I (or anyone else who answered) understood your original question. The answer is that for a standalone link it adds incorrect information (that the linked page is canonical for the current thing) so should NOT be used.

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