In this blog-post we will discuss how the semantic web has changed our experience on the internet, both as users and editors, and why building a vocabulary of concepts for your website can be essential for your business and very easy to do, with one single WordPress plug-in: WordLift.
Semantic What? What’s In It For Me
The semantic web can be defined as a web of data. It originates from the transformation of the Web into an environment in which published documents carry a “hidden side”, an inner layer of data commonly known as metadata: It was 2009 when the inventor of the web, Tim-Berners Lee asked everyone to introduce the semantic information needed to help machine understand information being published.
The context around each set of metadata is what reveals to search engines the intent of the users. The same word can mean different things to different people or at different times: for example, typing french fries at 8am on a laptop can load different results than if searched at 8 pm from a smartphone. The context gives the hint of a clear intent: in the morning you might just be curious about the word itself, why it is called french etc. whereas in the evening you might want to look for the place that serves the best french fries in your town or order them online. The metadata structure behind both pages allows search engines to match the contextualized users’ intent with the most useful results.
The semantic web significantly increased the possibilities offered by the online world, making it easier for software to organize and classify content. Search engines are a perfect example as they leverage metadata to provide results from the most relevant onwards: relevance is now chosen according to the metadata that each page embodies, so you must structure your page correctly if you want to rank on Google, with the right information and the perfect connection to other pages’ themes.
In 2001 Tim-Berners Lee expected the web to become semantic soon; 15 years later we are testifying the change that semantic web is imposing and enjoying the benefits.
The content of your website must follow this new concept of an organized web as well; properly organized content provides a better navigation experience, higher search engine rankings and readers’ engagement. But how to do it and how can it be useful to a website’s target audience?
Here is where WordLift comes at hand. WordLift is a plug-in for WordPress that helps you create, organize and beautify the content of your websites, blogs and any digital editorial products. The plug-in takes you by the hand during the whole process of creating, writing and publishing your content, and the metadata attached to it.
While you are writing, WordLift analyses the terms used and identifies the most meaningful ones based on the context of the post; these key-words are suggested in the form of entities, concepts you should focus on that are crucial for your target audience. For each entity you select, a specific page with text and images is created, so that readers can deepen the matter; the plug-in draws this material from the universal encyclopedia that is the web, more precisely from the wealth of open data available, and structures it in the form of web pages enriched with Schema.org markups, the classification system used by Google and all other search engines in the world. WordLift adds the schema.org markup to the page to make it SEO-friendly and readable by computers.
The sum of all the entity pages you create, forms the vocabulary of your website, already linked to open data vocabularies in the web.
The aim of the vocabulary is to organize content for a referring audience which is composed of personas; to connect each content to the other depending on the context; to optimize it for search engines in order to rank to interested readers, or more precisely, to the target audience of the page.
How to Create a Vocabulary
A good vocabulary should contain 70-80 entities to start with, but where to extract it from? Which entities or keywords should be part of the vocabulary?
- Think about your audience first – performing a good old basic keyword research can help you understand your readers; analyzing patterns and identifying the intents of searches on Google, can help you identify not only your targets, but the 10 or 100 or 1000 readers a month you need to make a difference in your business (find out more on this subject in this article from our consultancy blog and the work we did in the travel industry for the Salzburg State Board of Tourism.) Once the right audience is targeted, it is easy to build a set of recurring concepts that should eventually become entities in your vocabulary.
- The devil is in the details – Look closely at your business model and at what really makes a difference. A real estate agent working in a fancy neighborhood must know not only the properties’ value or the crime rate in the area but also the mood of the little café down the street or the teachers’ skills in the local high school – these details help potential clients understanding your offer; turning these details into entity pages create context and context builds trust.
- The vocabulary is your content hub – Think of each entity as a hub around which should revolve a set of content on your site – if you have enough material on a specific concept or if you plan to add this content to your editorial plan – then start with an entity that describes it. These pages can become search magnets and in some cases they can also be designed as clear answers to specific questions and enter the realm of Rank #0.
- You are what you share – Entities are a great mean to explain a complex topic to your audience – when doing so you are also creating great content to promote your business on social networks.
Moreover when creating a vocabulary remember that:
- We are all in the relationship business – Each entity should be connected to blog-posts and to other entities in the same knowledge domain – we always recommend our users to link each entity at least to another one. These relationships amongst entities translate into specific links in your graph and can be used to discover more content on your website. When linking data, be careful and follow a strategy, with the most value for your users in mind.
- The real value is the “hidden side” – Curating the metadata box behind each entity is good for humans as well as machines –
- Example: the entity of Rudolph Schindler (an Austrian modernist architect) should be linked to Frank Lloyd Wright’s, who in 1918 asked him to work on a project in L.A. together; this can be done by filling up the schema-org:knows property in the metadata box of Schindler’s entity page, providing new ways to discover content you might have on both Schindler and Frank Lloyd Wright.
- Be the Wikipedia of your niche – Always curate your entities and customize their content to fit your offers and your targets. If you decide to create an entity just to add the schema.org markup to your page, you should add a no-index on the entity page to avoid any SEO issue with content duplication.
- Keep it super simple – Use your properly structured vocabulary to affect the architecture of your website, to make sure that your reader have quick access to the information they need. Entities can be grouped in your navigation by types (i.e. all schema-org:places) or using custom WordPress taxonomies to fit your needs.
Why Should You Care?
Organizing and enriching content is becoming more and more of a necessity in what has been called the birth of Web 3.0. Users are no longer searching for queries on the web but finding answers. At this point only the linked will survive! Connect your website to the rest of the web, within itself and with your target audience. It is very easy to do it, and you only need one single plug-in: WordLift.