Search giants Google, Bing and Yahoo! announced overnight a combined venture to help web search more user and webmaster friendly. The project, schema.org, is a directory of html mark-ups that can be used for Search Engine Optimization for better indexing of web pages. With the tie up of the major search engines, webmasters don’t need to lose sleep over the troubles of assigning different mark-ups for each engine, which makes it a win-win situation for all.

Even though the proposal is not directly targeted at the web users, and might even sound a tad too geeky, it is the users who would be benefitted at the end of the chain. For instance, with better indexing of web pages, the search engines wouldn’t be guessing whether a certain page contains information about Chinatown the movie, or Chinatown the ethnic enclave. This would save a significant amount of confusion especially when it comes to searches involving richer and interactive pages.

“We want to continue making the open web richer and more useful. We know that it takes time and effort for webmasters to add this markup to their pages, and adding markup is much harder if every search engine asks for data in a different way. That’s why we’ve come together with other search engines to support a common set of schemas, just as we came together to support a common standard for sitemaps in 2006”, Google blog post said announcing the proposal.

Since Apple doesn't support Flash, a large section of websites use html technology to run interactive web pages. The structured data, when converted to html, loses the tags -a problem which has been tackled so far by engines with rich snippets. In the new scheme of things, the webmasters can assign mark-ups from the universal common source directory of schema.org which is a far more efficient way for SEO.

All the existing types of rich snippets, along with more than 100 new categories have been already added, according to a Google statement. They made it clear that the search engines will keep supporting the rich snippet technology, but has advised web masters to switch to the new program sooner or later.

If you are in the beginning stages of building a website, the advice is to use the source codes in schema, than go for the older tools. If not, you have enough time to move on, because the search engines will continue their support for the rich snippet and SearchMonkey programs.