Back in August I typed a bit of a rant about how the automotive industry is behind when it comes to using Schema.org standards (http://defoenet.com/2013/08/why-use-schema-for-products/). I was thinking about Schema again today while reading a very (or should I say unbelievably) basic post about car dealers SEO. The blog post was stuff that anyone who has run a website for more than a few months should know. But like a lot of automotive industry vendor blogs there was little substance and lots of sales pitch. This company was claiming the top rated SEO websites in the industry. In fact they guarantee “the highest SEO rankings available.”
This company MUST be using Schema.org markup I told myself. So I visited a dealers website that is “powered by” this company. Upon viewing the page source code there was . . . . no schema markup. Giving this auto dealer website provider the benefit of doubt I figured I’d take a look at the address field. And going a little further I figured that instead of looking at the address in the page footer I would go to the homepage of the site and view the code. Well on the homepage the address was in the footer. But they also had a nice clean listing of the dealerships hours. Could it be that these had any type of schema or microdata. But alas they did not.
I’ve been coding webpages since about 1995 and using microdata for at least 12 years. Back then the format I used extensively was vCard (or hCard). At the time this was used mostly so people who visited a business website could download the contact information directly into their email software. Of course this standard allowed crawlers to easily access and catalog the data. Not to long after that came RDF. This was great because it set a standard and by using the RDF, especially on product pages, you could get stuff into the search engines exactly the way you wanted. I believe that RDF really started being used 8-9 years ago. Then in 2006 the search engines setup a common standard for sitemaps. Less websites seemed to be using RDF and my assumption was that a sitemap was just easier to create. But if one used a properly formatted sitemap and RDF the results were phenomenal.
So we jump ahead to June 2011. There were several formats being used by savoy web designers and Google, Bing and Yahoo! got together to create a standard, just as had been done for sitemaps. Enter Schema.org. Notice that the standard was set in June 2011. That was 2 1/2 years ago. That’s like middle ages as far as the Internet goes. So two and a half years later I can’t find any auto dealer websites that use schema.org standards. The only automotive related website I can find using the 2 1/2 year old standard is cargurus.com. But from what I can tell it is a little choppy.
For listing a dealership address there is the format outlined in http://schema.org/AutomotiveBusiness but there is no specific example for creating a product listing schema. Because they say that schema.org is an open format you can use the basic rules to create new markup types. If enough people use them they will become a standard.
Based on the http://schema.org/Product or http://schema.org/IndividualProduct format here is an example of how I would like to see schema used in the code of the VDPs on the websites of the dealerships I work for:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Product”>
<span itemprop=”modelYear”>2014</span> <span itemprop=”manufacturer”>Cadillac</span> <span itemprop=”model”>CTS Sedan</span> <span itemprop=”modelTrim”>Luxury</span>
<div itemprop=”offers” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Offer”>
Stock # <span itemprop=”sku”>C91764</span>
VIN: <span itemprop=”productID”>1G6AX5SX1E0141161</span>
There is more info that could be entered but this is the basic stuff. I’ve been thinking for a few months that if I a vendor doesn’t pop up that provides this info I may just build a CMS for car dealers myself.