Edit: A new, longer version of this post is available here.
I think we need to see some developments for forums and bulletin board software regarding the Semantic Web. Yahoo SearchMonkey and Google Rich Snippets are already indexing semantic content from the Web, and you can be sure that Bing will go the same way if recent developments are anything to go by.
Drupal is about to get the jump on vBulletin and phpBB by becoming one of the first forum (content) systems that will have semantic markup out of the box allowing search engines to know what is a post, a reply, a user / person, a topic, etc. And not just for the last 15 posts either a la RSS, but for all site content.
On October 19th, Dries Buytaert committed RDFa additions to Drupal 7 core into the code repository (Twitter announcement). RDFa is a microcontent format based on Semantic Web technologies, that allows people to embed semantic information in their web pages.
So I propose that when vBulletin 4 comes out, someone grabs the default set of templates, and marks them up with RDFa just as was done for Drupal.
Then, whoever wants to benefit from having semantic markup identifying the posts, replies, users, topics and forums on their multi-forum website can do so.
RDFa and search engines (phpBB SEO)
3 thoughts on “Forums, the Semantic Web, and SEO”
We need a simple hack to get the right rich snippet data to publish to google. I have yet to find a google search result that had the right information for last post and total replies from a forum listing. I have no idea where they are extracting this from- is it first page?
Hi Sanjay –
For what they are doing now, they are just using their own algorithms to calculate that stuff for forums – the other things like ratings, etc. is via rich snippets – so there is nothing published on how they generate the forum stats. They must be looking at the whole set of pages for a thread to determine it. Also, some of the results seem more complete than others (some show last post date, others don’t).
Am off sick but hope to talk more about this soon,
I have always been a fan of Drupal as a CMS. Them taking the lead on Sematics ahead of the other s established bulletin board platforms shows how commented these open source developers are.