Authors, publishers and marketers today simply cannot afford to overlook the emerging trends and practices of digital content. Every day, people are bombarded with new and different types of media. This makes it increasingly difficult for businesses to grab the attention of target audiences. The majority of organizations already recognize the need to digitally distribute materials. However, there is a vast array of obstacles publishers face in this arena. For example, they have to make sure that their content is compatible across all networks, operating systems and devices and is visually appealing on all screen sizes.
The accumulating complexities crowding the digital environment require companies to leverage the best-in-class solutions for optimizing content and establishing themselves as an industry leader. One of the most important, yet frequently overlooked, cornerstones of effectively publishing digital content and media is semantic tagging. This metadata is essential in ensuring content is formatted correctly, visually appealing, easy to access and appropriately rendered. Unfortunately, it is not an area of Web development that many people are familiar with.
The reason for this could be attributed to the fact that, as Tony Agresta pointed out in an article for Data Informed, "its use is not readily apparent to viewers. Rather, the process is centered on the curation, enrichment and analysis of text and how it's organized even before users interact with it."
What exactly is it and how does it work?
Put simply, semantic markups are used in the behind-the-scene operations. However, their importance cannot be understated; proprietary software is required to create the metadata and assign the appropriate tags, which influence the level of quality experienced when delivering, finding and interacting with the content.
"Semantic tagging can be used for digital content enrichment."
Extensible Markup Language, or XML, is used to differentiate various elements of a document and handles the structuring, formatting and styling of digital content. XML tags are a type of metadata that define certain components, such as a headline, body of text and image. They handle the structuring, formatting and styling of content.
While nonsemantic data, such as HTML tags, are used to design a page, semantic tagging is used to assign meaning to bits of content. Essentially, it explains the purpose of each constituent. Semantic tagging goes above and beyond this by making the document more interactive and, therefore, creates smart content. There have been many articles that have agreed the concept of intelligent content is best summarized by Ann Rockley's definition, which is "content that's structurally rich and semantically categorized and therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable and adaptable."
Semantic tagging for publishers
Of course, search engine optimization is an important tool in reaching target audiences. Publishers can use metadata and XML tags to increase searchability and discoverability of materials which is becoming increasingly difficult. As the world of digital content publishing expands its capabilities, it is also increasing in its complexities.
From streaming video services and mobile games to music applications and social media networks, authors are competing with businesses that aren't even in their industry. Therefore, the process of publishing digital content needs to be carefully and strategically vetted. Fortunately, semantic publishing can provide companies with the advantage they need.
"Semantic markup provides a structural backbone to the development of automated processes that reduce human effort but produce powerful results," Joshua Tallent wrote in an article for Digital Book World. He also indicated that paying attention to how content is semantically tagged can provide publishers with useful insight that benefits both them and their audience.
Whether it is used for business marketing materials, eBooks or STM publications, this metadata can be used to enhance the efficiency and performance of digital content. If "content is king" then there is going to be a growing need for companies to create and distribute as much content as possible. This task becomes significantly easier when old materials can be reconfigured and reproduced. Being able to recycle archived documents and information not only saves money, but it allows organizations to create more and deliver more content on a regular basis.
This is why authors and marketers need to work with a software solution provider that can supplement the advanced tools, systems and techniques that help not only create new, enriched content, but also allow publishers to reuse old material in a modern way which, according to Tallent, is the future of publishing.