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Semantify – Automate Your Semantic Web SEO in Five Minutes

The timing couldn’t be better for the release of Semantify, a new service from Israel/San Francisco’s Dapper.net. One week after Yahoo! announced that it will begin indexing the semantic markup and meaning of content on the web, Semantify offers a remarkably simple way to get your website marked up semantically. Automatically, forever.

Once you learn how to use Dapper’s basic interface, it can take less than five minutes to set up the Semantify service. Hello SEO, 3.0.

Just a Few Steps

Here’s what it takes:

1. Identify your website and show Dapper a few different pages on it.

2. Point and click to identify particular fields on your pages, like the titles, dates and authors of articles. Sometimes this requires a few extra clicks to exclude false positives in the previewed results.

3. Name those fields according to any number of Semantic Web naming protocols. In my test of Semantify, for my personal site marshallk.com, I used the Dublin Core namespaces “title,” “date,” description” and “creator” to name my fields in Dapper. I could have designated fields as the names of my friends or as particular locations. There are simple descriptions of other namespace conventions linked to from the Semantify page and this part is pretty intuitive.

4. Once you’ve gotten this far, in the standard method of using Dapper you’d grab an RSS feed that would deliver changes that get made to the fields you’re monitoring. With Semantify, though, you get a few lines of PHP code to paste into the header of your website. See the screenshot at the bottom of this post.

And then you’re done.

Dapper GUI + Semantic Web vocab list + PHP embed code = automated Semantic Web markup for your site. It’s like a point and click sitemap creator on the element-by-element level. It’s a perpetual standards-based SEO machine. That’s the incentive for publishers. For the rest of us, once the meaning of content is machine readable – there’s a world of sophisticated information processing we’ll be able to automate and leverage.

It’s The Early Days

It’s as simple as that, or at least it will be once all the little kinks are worked out. At launch the embed code is only available in PHP but the company says more options are right around the corner. The company rushed to get this service out the door and that’s a little obvious right now. It’s also clear that the problems are small ones that they’ll be able to solve quickly. There’s more sophisticated options coming (more granular control over namespaces, for example) and the user interface could always be improved over there. None the less, this service could end up being very, very big.

You can go through those steps above today, I have, and whenever the Yahoo! spider hits your webpage, it will be shown a semantically marked up version of whatever content is live on your pages at the time. It will come from your domain and everyone will be happy. Wash, rinse and repeat for all your domains. Then, thank Dapper for making it so damn easy.

Historical Context

Many people have questioned the viability of the Semantic Web vision, asking who will do the markup. Yahoo! has stepped in and provided the incentive for every publisher to do so, now Dapper’s Semantify is hoping to provide the service that will make it easy, too.

Once it’s just a matter of course for publishers to publish semantic markup with their content, look out world. My favorite example, from our coverage of the Yahoo! announcement, is this: show me all the movie reviews written by a user’s friends who live in Europe. Today, that would be hard to do. Once semantic markup is widely published and indexed – then such queries will be trivial and the only question will be what we want to do with that information.

The Semantic Web could change the world. The only things missing are incentive like Yahoo! now provides and ease-of-use, as Semantify began offering today.

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