Search engines have a problem: Websites often include a wealth of data that is extremely useful but difficult to decipher.

For example, on a complex entertainment site built from a large database, how can Google quickly determine whether the page content is about a movie, a person, or a TV series?

To address this issue, a group of search companies—Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex—agreed three years ago to use a common set of identifiers (schemas) to help flag the various "entities" on a page.

This effort to structure Web data, which is housed under the umbrella, assigns specific HTML tags to types of things—such as events, recipes, reviews, locations, etc.—so that search engines can recognize them.

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image of Ayaz Nanji

Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji