The Yahoo Search Blog has made a big announcement yesterday that discussed their support for semantic web standards. The “semantic web” is often classified as the next big thing for the Internet, but the problem is that not everyone has taken the time to understand the benefits. With Yahoo jumping on semantic web bandwagon it is sure to start picking up steam.
What is the semantic web? It’s a set of standards that will give computers the tools needed to better understand the relationship between data on the Internet. Computers would be able to collect data from several different sites, aggregate it together, and display it in a way that’s meaningful for the users.
For example, imagine doing research on Christopher Columbus for a report that you have to write. On one site you might find some information regarding Columbus’ childhood while on another there might be details on his voyage in 1492. We can obviously see the connection between the two sources, but computers can’t. That’s where the semantic web comes into play.
Websites will be able to create specially designed RDF files that can be used to give computers the data they need to make relationships. Or, as seen in the screenshot at the beginning of the article, a search for someone’s name could return more helpful results. Here’s what Yahoo has to say about how they can use the semantic web to benefit consumers and site owners.
By supporting semantic web standards, Yahoo! Search and site owners can bring a far richer and more useful search experience to consumers. For example, by marking up its profile pages with microformats, LinkedIn can allow Yahoo! Search and others to understand the semantic content and the relationships of the many components of its site. With a richer understanding of LinkedIn’s structured data included in our index, we will be able to present users with more compelling and useful search results for their site. The benefit to LinkedIn is, of course, increased traffic quality and quantity from sites like Yahoo! Search that utilize its structured data.
The Internet is just brimming with too much information, and the semantic web will give surfers the ability to find content that they may not have found otherwise. Now we might start to see more applications of the semantic web emerge since Yahoo has joined in the game, and I can’t wait to see what comes out of all this.