De facto standards for semantic search?

June, 2009

Google's recent announcement of "rich snippets" in its Search Options feature gives a big boost to RDFa and microformats, two emerging de facto standards for semantic search. Google's news follows close on the heels of Reuters OpenCalais service this winter and Yahoo's SearchMonkey open developer platform in 2008. All three give us a glimpse of how the Semantic Web might play out in search applications.

We shouldn't be surprised by the emergence of simplified Semantic Web standards. Just as the Internet replaced proprietary network protocols, HTML supplanted SGML, and Dublin Core eclipsed more complex bibliographic formats, RDFa and microformats are being used by developers who want to give users new features now rather than wait for more complex standards to be approved. Today, RDFa and microformats give users the ability to:

  • link to product reviews;
  • select a subset of search results by date;
  • display contact information for people.

In this article, we explain the concept of semantic search, look at how it's implemented at Google and Yahoo, describe similarities and differences between RDFa and microformats, and draw some conclusions about their use for the enterprise.

Created on June,13, 2009 l Updated on June 16, 2009