Social Media Optimization: What You Should Know about Semantic Markup

By Ric Shreves, Michelle Krasniak

If you want to truly succeed with your social media optimization strategy you need to know about semantic markup. Simply put, semantic markup is a standardized way of writing code that makes a web page easily understandable by dumb machines, such as search engines. It’s a way to annotate the content of a web page so that it can be understood properly by search engines (or by Facebook, Twitter, and other automated systems). You need to know about it for two reasons:

  • Semantic markup can improve the presentation of your content on search engines, Facebook, Twitter, and other social sharing channels.

  • Research shows that properly marked‐up content ranks higher in the search engines than content without semantic markup.

Put another way, semantic markup makes your content look better and perform better.

This is where the confusing stuff begins. Four standards for semantic markup are in place right now:

  • Schema.org

  • RDFa

  • Open Graph

  • oEmbed

You need to care only about Schema.org and Open Graph. To be frank (and to run risk of being criticized by the purists out there), many people need to care only about Open Graph.

Some commentators refer to these standards collectively as social meta tags.