Feature: You'll Be Back: Search Engine Optimization & Survival

What Is RDF and Why Should I Care?

Author: Deltina Hay
Published: November 30, 2010 at 8:43 am

RDF IconIn a previous article we discussed how the Semantic Web is about making content easier for machines to interpret. This is accomplished in a number of ways including tagging content as structured data and defining content as linked data within the Linked Open Data cloud (LOD). RDF provides us with a framework to do both.

RDF stands for Resource Description Framework. This framework is used to represent data in the LOD cloud as an XML file, and is the basis for RDFa, a format used to mark up content as structured data for the Semantic Web.

This article provides a basic explanation of RDF and RDFa. Subsequent articles will demonstrate how to use RDFa to mark up your content as structured data and how to create static RDF files as a means for adding your content to the LOD cloud.

The following is a very basic explanation of how data is represented using RDF. For more detailed information check out the W3C's RDF primer.

As its name implies, RDF is a way to define resources using a specific framework. That framework is based on the concept of “triples.” Each resource is represented by a number of triples.

A triple consists of a subject, a predicate, and an object that mirrors a simple sentence structure like:





[has the] Web site



[is] employed at




John Smith

John Smith

[is] also known as



RDF triples take on the following forms:

  1. The subject is a URI (a type of link) identifying the described resource.
  2. The object can be a literal value like a text value, number, or date (“John Smith” in our example); or it can be the URI of another resource that is in some way related to the subject (“http://deltina.com” in our example).
  3. Like a basic sentence structure, the predicate indicates what kind of relationship exists between the subject and the object, such as a name or date of birth (in the case of a literal, i.e., not a link) or an employer or someone the person knows (in the case of another resource represented by a link).

Continued on the next page

About this article

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Article Author: Deltina Hay

Deltina Hay is the principal of SocialMediaPower.com, and founder of the search, social media, semantic and mobile optimized Website service, PlumbWebSolutions.com. Her latest book is A Survival Guide to Social Media and Web 2.0 Optimization.

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