5 Structured Data Vocabularies SEOs and Web Masters Should Know

Structured-Data vocabularies help webmasters and SEOs make their content machine-readable. When using these vocabularies, it opens your content up to earn rich features in search as well as creating a better understanding of your site on the semantic web. Here are five vocabularies you need to know. 

Video Transcript: 

In this episode of Hack My Growth, we’re going to be looking at five different structured data vocabularies, all SEOs and website owners need to know.

Understanding Vocabularies and Ontologies

What our vocabularies and ontologies in the first place? Vocabulary and ontologies are used quite a bit when it comes to structured data or talking about linked open data, especially when we’re talking about the semantic web. It can be confusing when we start to use terms like this and start defining what they are. If we want to break it down on the semantic web, vocabularies define concepts and relationships. They’re used to classifying terms into a specific application or characterize the relationships between them. Maybe define the possible constraints within those terms themselves. While you’ll find some content out there that creates some differences between vocabularies and ontologies, the reality is there is no clear division between them.

Currently, the trend within the semantic web is to use ontologies for more complex, maybe formal collection of terms. Vocabulary is used when we don’t need such a strict formalization, a little looser collection of these terms. But vocabularies are the basic building blocks for inference techniques on the semantic web. And what that means is these are the building blocks for creating those relationships and connections between concepts on the semantic web. And as we’ve talked about in this channel, this is really important when you want to have a deeper understanding of your website, for both the users and really for the search crawlers. So what are they used for?

Vocabularies and semantic web help drive data integration. For example, when you have terms that can be ambiguous or that have multiple meanings, you can use vocabularies to set the specific meaning that you’re intending with your piece of content. It can also help and lead to the discovery of new relationships. For instance, if I’m describing a person, in this case, myself and I wanted to use the schema.org vocabulary, I can leverage schema.org to do a couple of things. I can tell a web crawler that my name is Ryan Shelley, that I have an organization or work for an organization called SMA Marketing. and that that organization has a specific URL, which you can find more information about it. Instead of just providing a link to a user’s profile page, you can inject that with more information and understanding so that the crawlers know specifically the definitions and the connections between that link and the other pieces of content on the site, specifically, my name, my company, and my company’s URL.

There are a ton of data vocabularies on the web. In this video, we’re going to be looking at five that I think all SEOs and webmasters should at least get familiar with because it can extend the context of your content, and also help you create deeper relationships and improve your search visibility.


Schema.org is probably the most popular vocabulary when it comes to webmasters and SEOs. It has a direct connection to Google’s rich features. Google’s one of the main companies that helped in collaboration with developing schema.org. The great thing about schema.org is that it’s able to be used to help improve the search visibility of our websites. With the increasing number of rich features that we’re seeing within the search results, schema.org has a large influence over those. It doesn’t impact all of them, but a lot of them it does, and when we add this type of structured data, using this vocabulary to our website, we help create those semantic connections and really just develop a better understanding of our site from the crawler’s perspective.

This is an example of some JSON-LD code that contains schema.org markup. We can see it’s got the application type, JSON, we’ve got the schema as the context, and in this case, they’re looking at movie type, the name, the director, genre, and the trailer. We’ve got all this great information right here that is probably on the site itself from a visual standpoint, but now it’s being broken down using structured data, which allows the crawlers to better understand what the specific page is about. Now I’m going to make a plug here. If you’re interested in learning more about how to leverage structured data using schema.org on your website, I have a course that you can take and I’ll walk you through every single bit of this and how to implement it on your site, and allow you to understand it much deeper. You can check out the link in the description if you want to learn more.

Friend of a Friend

The next type of vocabulary we are looking at is called Friend of a Friend. This is used to define people and the relationships between people. This is really cool if you do a lot of work with other people, or you want to annotate the relationships between different people within your content, or you want to build a social network in the backend, in the knowledge graph of your website. You can learn more about Friend of a Friend by checking out their website; it’s a machine-readable ontology, but it’s also very easy to use. Again, we can do it with RDFA. We can do it with JSON-LD or other link data markup. Here’s an example of a Friend of a Friend code.

In this case, we’ve got Friend Of a Friend and it’s a person named James Wales. You’ve got their mailbox, their home page, you’ve got their nickname, their depiction, their interests. And then you can also create connections to who they know. Here we can say James knows Angela, and as you can see, this is making those semantic relationships underneath the content.

Now if you’ve got content about Angela, or maybe Angela’s got a website, you can start to tell Google that these two different websites have relationships and they talk to each other and that Jim or James knows Angela and vice versa. What you’re doing is creating these relationships within the data layer of your website, it improves the understanding of your content, and it improves the overall context of what you’re talking about. This is a cool type of structured data that you can leverage and add into your site to create those relationships between people.

Good Relations

If you’re in the e-commerce space, Good Relations is really, really powerful. It’s a web ontology and it compliments other semantic data as well. And specifically, we’re talking about goods and services, it does this by creating those connections between buyers and sellers and the products and services they offer. Now, this was integrated and has been integrated into schema.org ontology, but you can still leverage a lot of the variations within good relations to add another layer of information into your content, into your products and services on your website. This is important when you want to mark up your pages; your product pages to have a better understanding from the crawlers. This is going to allow you to have more visibility in search, is going to allow you to get more of that powerful information about your products and services, right within the search results. Again, if we look at a piece of good relations information here, you can see it down here as we talked specifically about opening hours.

We had the property, Good Relations opening hours, all the information here, the resources to the linked definitions of the days, and all of that powerful information. Because again, you’re allowing the search engines to understand the context of your business within a language that they understand. Good Relations is definitely one. If you do products and services on your website, you want to build those relationships and you want to start connecting that to the semantic web so that the crawlers have a better understanding of who you are, what you do, and the products and services and the relationship between that and the businesses you serve. What’s really cool about this piece of content here is you’re going to see there’s a number of different types of structured data. We’ve got Friend Of a Friend, we’ve got Good Relations, we’ve got V Car, we’ve got XSD and you’ll see them down here.

We’ve got the depiction of the company, using Friend Of a Friend. We have the V Card looking at the geo-coordinates, and then we’ve got Good Relations giving us all this information about the stores, opening hours, and hours of operation. As you can see, you can use multiple vocabularies that allow the crawlers to get a much deeper understanding of the content on your website.

Basic Geo

Basic Geo is a vocabulary that can provide semantic web with latitude, longitude coordinates, and other spatially located things. When you’re doing local SEO or you’ve got multiple locations and you want to mark up using geo-coordinates, which can be extremely helpful because those are numbers that help the crawlers know where something is specifically, you can leverage the vocabulary of Basic Geo.

If we look at the code here, you can see that we can give a basic near geo, the latitude and longitude coordinates right in within the structured data, right nested underneath the homepage of Dan here. This is helpful when you have location-based content, whether you’ve got a location of your business, or maybe you’re tagging images that you’ve taken at a specific location. This is a really cool type of structured data that you use to embed that information into your site so that it’s easily crawlable and understandable from the search engines.

Dublin Core

Lastly, we’re going to talk about Dublin Core. This is a set of 15 core elements or properties that help describe resources. The resources described using Dublin Core could be digital resources like video and images and webpages, as well as physical resources, such as books or CDs or other artworks. This is typically used to define resources themselves. This is where you would be using Dublin Core if you’ve got videos or images or web pages, you can also do it if you’re selling books or CDs and add more annotation and more information about those things right within the structured data.

If we look at this example, you can define things like the format and you can define the language and the publisher and the title. You could do all of these types of things using schema.org, but you can also mix and match with some of these other formats so that you can get deeper information or extended information that you might not be able to always do within schema.org. There’s a ton of vocabularies out on the web, but it’s important to look at the ones that make the most sense for your business. If you’re just getting started, do schema.org, get used to schema.org, learn it, learn how to implement it, understand it. Like I mentioned before, we have a course, that’s going to walk you through exactly how to do that. And then you want to take the next steps and start to extend your site. You want to extend the visibility of your site by mixing in maybe Friend Of a Friend or Good Relations or Geo or Dublin Core in order to provide deeper, more powerful link data to the search engines and make your content go further.

If you have any questions about what we covered here today, please comment below. We’d love to continue this conversation with you. And until next time, Happy Marketing.

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SMA Marketing Global Digital Marketing Agency Ryan Shelley Founder and CEO Headshot
Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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