Best Buy – using RDFa to increase visibility of products & services
This is a pretty well-discussed example in the Semantic Web community, but just wanted to briefly explore how Best Buy is using RDFa to semantically markup its web pages to increase the visibility of its products and services.
Let’s look at an article from ReadWriteWeb from July 2010 titled How Best Buy is Using The Semantic Web. This article is based on an interview with Jay Myers, Lead Web Development Engineer at BestBuy.com. There’s several things I’d like to highlight.
The Why – Focus on Business Objectives
OK, so this may go without saying, but the Semantic Web, for businesses, needs to be about solving business problems, not about a cool technology. And sure enough, Myers told ReadWriteWeb that “the primary goal of using semantic technologies was to increase the visibility of its products and services”.
The How – RDFa
This increase in visibility comes through using a semantic markup language called RDFa to unambiguously describes the meaning of data on a web page – data that is important to Best Buy’s business, things like Customer data, Product Data, location data, etc.
Can you show me an example?
Yeah sure. The screenshot below from the RWW article shows a Best Buy webpage, with the RDFa tags that describe the associated data elements:
Hmm, that’s pretty cool. So rather than just a whack of text and images on a page – from which a search engine would have to do its best to infer what the page is about – this web page actually exposes data that is marked up with semantic tags. These semantic tags unambiguously describe the meaning of the data.
But do the semantic tags do that? I mean, a “Services” tag could mean a lot of different things in different contexts, right?
Ontologies – standardized vocabularies of shared meaning
That’s where the GoodRelations standardized vocabulary comes in. It provides a standardized vocabulary for e-commerce that describes product, price, and company data on the Web.
The GoodRelations vocabulary provides a set of shared Terms that define common concepts in retail/e-commerce such as product, price, etc. This vocabulary is used by both vendors in their web pages, and search engines, to provide searchers on the web with results that are most relevant to their queries.
That’s pretty cool.
In Summary …
That’s it. A pretty simple concept really. Just wanted to describe it in simple terms, so that I could refer back to this post when introducing colleagues to RDFa.