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Abbreviated FAQ (Frequently Frequently Asked Questions)

NOTE: This is not the entire FAQ, but rather a condensed version that aims to answer the most common questions people have about GoodRelations. If you don't find the answer to your question here, please see the full FAQ.

How can I add GoodRelations to my Web site?

Web shop software: For many popular shop applications (e.g. Magento, Joomla/Virtuemart, Wordpress/WPEC, Prestashop,...), there exist free extension modules that make adding GoodRelations RDFa for semantic SEO as easy as a few mouse-clicks. That is by far the simplest way of adding GoodRelations to your site, so make sure you check the current list of available modules first. 

If your software package is not listed there, you should ask your vendor to add GoodRelations using this recipe. We provide free support for this!

CMS or static HTML for a store, restaurant, or company site: The easiest way is to use the on-line snippet generator tool that creates the markup for GoodRelations automatically - ready for copy-and-paste. Or follow the quickstart recipe.

Markup examples for special industries are given in the GoodRelations Cookbook.

What is the difference to schema.org and microdata?

schema.org is an entry-level markup for adding structured information to sites, currently understood, in microdata syntax only. GoodRelations is a much more powerful language, equally supported by traditional search engines, but also by mobile applications, browser extensions, and novel Web 3.0 applications.

With GoodRelations, you can

  1. describe your business in more detail than with schema.org (e.g. you can publish shipping charges, quantity discounts, product features, or opening hours),
  2. feed a larger number of clients and applications, and
  3. use powerful extensions for your vertical industry, e.g. automotive, restaurants, real estate, or similar.

More information is here: http://wiki.goodrelations-vocabulary.org/GoodRelations_and_schema.org

Why is Google not showing rich snippets for my pages?

Note: Many site owners are way too impatient when it comes to Google rich snippets. Once you added respective markup, it will often take 4 - 12 weeks until Google will turn on this search feature for your site. See also this analysis.

If you have added GoodRelations (manually or via a shop extension module) to your shop and still do not get rich snippets in Google search results, this can have one of the following reasons:

  • Google has not yet re-crawled your page or pages. Google dedicates just a limited amount of crawling time to a site, depending on its global relevance. It may be that Google has simply not yet re-indexed your page. Wait 2 - 8 weeks ;-)
  • The markup is invalid. Try the Google Validator. If that shows a rich snippet in the preview, you may just have to wait 4 - 12 weeks until Google will notice and white-list your pages. If it does not show a rich snippet, you either do not have valid GoodRelations markup in the page, you are missing properties that Google requires (e.g. gr:validThrough for prices), the price of the item has expired, or you use markup for which Google does not show rich snippets. Currently, Google shows snippets only for products and offers.
  • Google cannot see that your page changed. Your XML sitemap (http://example.com/sitemap.xml or similar) does not contain a lastmod attribute or the lastmod attribute was not updated after you added GoodRelations. This attribute is important for crawlers to notice which pages need to be reindexed.
  • Low ranking of your item pages. Your item pages have a low ranking and what you see in your Google results are category pages or other pages summarizing multiple items. GoodRelations shop extensions add markup only to the "deep" item pages, because those are best for rich snippets. Use the title / product name of one of your products and restrict the Google search to your site with the additional statement site:www.example.com.
  • Not supported in your country. Google plans to support rich snippets in all countries, but so far is showing them only on google.com, google.de, google.co.uk, and google.ru. For more information, see the next question below.
  • Only some of your product pages show rich snippets, and you simply look at the wrong ones. It is typical, in particular for small shops, that Google stores the data needed for rich snippets only for anything between 10 and 50 % (estimate) of your product detail pages. So you cannot check whether you get rich snippets by searching for a few random product detail pages! It is not an all-or-nothing decision whether Google shows rich snippets for your site. Instead, use the site:yourshop.com parameter in the search and include a text fragment that is contained on all of your product detail pages (e.g. "VAT", "Order now", etc.). Then you should get a list of product item pages. Browse at least the first two or three result pages in Google to see whether some of them have rich snippets.

When testing your site for rich snippets support, make sure that:

  1. you are using google.com or another international version that already supports rich snippets, and
  2. you are using a query that will bring an article detail page (and not a category page) with actual markup among the top ten search results.
  3. you are looking at a sufficiently large number of article detail pages, not just a few.
Restricting Google to a particular site to check for rich snippets

Figure: Restricting a Google search to a particular site to check for rich snippets.

Google has its own document on this topic:

Note that the usage of GoodRelations shop extensions qualifies as the "few limited circumstances" in which Google accepts invisible RDFa content as "useful".

In which countries does Google show rich snippets based on GoodRelations?

Google has said to support rich snippets in all countries in the long run. At the time of writing, we can confirm that GoodRelations in RDFa is supported for 

  • google.com,
  • google.at,
  • google.be,
  • google.ca (both English and French),
  • google.ca (in German, French, and Italian but not yet in Romansh language)
  • google.co.uk,
  • google.co.nz (only in English but not yet in Māori),
  • google.co.za (only in English but not yet in Afrikaans, Sesotho, IsiZulu, IsiXhosa nor Setswana),
  • google.com.au,
  • google.com.hk (Hong Kong, the current redirect from the Chinese version),
  • google.com.tr,
  • google.com.tw (in both English and Mandarin),
  • google.cz,
  • google.de,
  • google.dk,
  • google.es,
  • google.fi,
  • google.fr,
  • google.gr,
  • ggogle.hr,
  • google.hu,
  • google.il (in both English and Hebrew),
  • google.it,
  • google.jp,
  • google.li,
  • google.nl,
  • google.no,
  • google.pl,
  • google.pt,
  • google.ro,
  • google.ru,
  • google.se, and
  • google.sk.

Note that the different national versions of Google may differ in which sites will have rich snippets and which ones don't. The likely reason is that both the indexes and the filtering component for assessing the trustworthiness of the data markup may be calibrated differently per each national version.

The number of supported countries seems to have grown significantly in the first quarter of 2012. For earlier information, see here.

What is the difference to hProduct/hListing microformats?

Microformats are a basic technique that aims at embedding meta-data about Web content in socially agreed "class" properties in HTML. While a bit simpler than RDFa or microdata syntaxes at first view, microformats have significant technical limitations:

  • Microformats use a fixed level of detail ("data granularity"); if you have more data, that is lost, if you have less, you must first improve your data. See also the page on dynamic data granularity.
  • Data from multiple pages (e.g. datasheets from the manufacturer and offers from retailers) cannot be combined easily.
  • Microformats markup is tied to the organisation of the visible content, which violates the principle of "separation of concerns" and is not feasible for non-trivial data structures.
  • The overloading of the HTML "class" property can have unintended sideeffects with stylesheets.

hProduct and hListing are microformat specifications for e-commerce that suffer from the technical limitations above. While some microformat specifications (e.g. hCard and hRecipe) have gained remarkable adoption for simple data structures despite these limitations, e-commerce data is inherently more complex.

In a nutshell, GoodRelations is a technically superior technique for adding e-commerce data to your Web site. Also, the big search engines have just renewed their support of GoodRelations, while microformats are only maintained as a legacy.

What is the difference to XML Schemata for E-Business?

XML schemas for E-Business, like BMEcat, ARTS XML, UBL are syntactic specifications for automated data interchange.

They are established techniques for exchanging business data between business partners that know each other and have manually initiated the exchange of respective files or streams. However, XML schemas don't work well for the early stages of business transactions, e.g. with new, potential suppliers or customers, because of the substantial effort for setting up and customizing a respective data interchange.

Also, XML schemas are inherently rigid, because they specify a single syntactic representation for the data.

In a nutshell, GoodRelations is much better suited for exchanging product or offer data with a huge number of unknown consumers over the Web.

If you have XML-based product or offer data, you can easily convert this into the GoodRelations format. For BMEcat, for instance, there is a powerful tool freely available

What is Semantic SEO?

Semantic Search Engine Optimization (Semantic SEO) is the use of techniques from the Semantic Web technology stack for 

  1. sending detailed information about the meaning of your page content to search engines and other data consumers,
  2. in a way that can be easily processed by computers.

In the narrower sense, Semantic SEO means using structured data, expressed using shared Web vocabularies like GoodRelations, to improve the appreciation of your value proposition by search engines. While traditional SEO tries to bring your page on a top rank of the organic search results for a broad range of Web users, Semantic SEO aims at bringing you on top of the results for exactly those Web users that match your products or services best.

Give the huge number of sites for a given topic, it is clear that only a few can be among the top listings. It is impossible for everybody to be top dog for everybody. With Semantic SEO, you can make your message heard by those Web users who would draw the most utility of your services.

Semantic SEO can be regarded as a branch of "Data Marketing", a term first coined by Scott Brinker. See his original post "Data as a new marketing channel".

More information about Semantic SEO with GoodRelations is here: http://wiki.goodrelations-vocabulary.org/GoodRelations_for_Semantic_SEO

How does GoodRelations relate to the Semantic Web and Linked Data?

GoodRelations is fully compatible with all related Semantic Web standards and can be used in Linked Data Scenarios, but it does not require the Semantic Web vision to become a reality. In technical terms, it is an OWL1 DL valid Web ontology available in RDF/XML syntax.

Since GoodRelations is a conceptual model for e-commerce data, it is not tightly bound to the broad diffusion of Semantic Web techniques. One could use GoodRelations in a variety of syntactical forms. 

Who is behind GoodRelations?

GoodRelations was initially created by Martin Hepp during the years of 2007 and 2008, based on a lot of earlier work from 2000 onwards, namely the eClassOWL vocabulary for product and services types.

Martin Hepp is now a professor of General Management and E-Business at the Universität der Bundeswehr München, where he heads the E-Business and Web Science Research Group.

The Universität der Bundeswehr München is a public research university operated and funded by the Federal Republic of Germany. As a public institution, we are financially independent from short-term commercial interests and provide the long-term stability necessary to secure your investment into adopting a new technology.

Many organizations and individuals have since supported the work on the GoodRelations vocabulary. Please honor their help by visiting this page.