Enhance Your Search Result Listings with Microformats – By Eric Nagel

by Colleen on November 30, 2011

If you’ve ever searched Google and have seen enhanced listings, such as those with reviews of a service or price of the product shown, you’ve seen what microformatted data can be used for.

Microformats, or rich snippets, are a set of labeled HTML tags which help the search engines classify your data. You can tag many different types of data (see schema.org for some examples) but some of the common ones are navigation breadcrumbs, reviews, events, products and recipes.

Microformatting does not introduce new HTML tags, but rather labels existing tags. For example, instead of <h1>HTC EVO 4G</h1> your HTML code would read <h1 itemprop=”name”>HTC EVO 4G </h1>.

Why Should You Use Microformats?

Properly tagging your data with microformats will do a couple of things for you. First, search engines will be able to read your site easier, allowing them to better categorize what your page is about. Second, they’ll be able to display the data in the results in a method that will draw the user’s eye and encourage clicks.

Merchants should use this on their own sites, as it’s an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) advantage they could gain over their competition. Also, microformats will help the search engines read your data. If your site lists two prices for a product, retail price and your sales price, why make Google guess which one to display, when you can tell them which one is your price?

Affiliates can also take advantage of microformatting their data, whether it be their own data (customer reviews the affiliate’s site has been gathering) or the merchant’s data (product information from a datafeed).

How Do You Tag Your Pages With Microformats?

If you have a custom site, look up the type of microformat that best fits your data at schema.org. Schema.org, sponsored by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, is the go-to site when it comes to microformat definitions. There, you can see various data types and what values are associated with them. Once you’ve added the proper tags, use Google’s Rich Snippets Testing Tool at http://feedfront.com/richsnippets to verify your changes.

If you’re looking for an easier way to get started, Raven Tools has created a series of easy to use forms at schema-creator.org. Simply click on the type of Microformatted data you’d like to create, fill out the form, then copy the given code back into your site.

There are also WordPress plugins to do the dirty work for you, such as the hRecipe plugin at feedfront.com/hrecipe, which will properly tag recipes in your blog.

It’s important to note that even if you properly tag your pages and test them, the search engines decide whether or not they’ll display the tagged data differently in the search result pages.

When you’re done, users on your site should see no change, but your data will be easier to read and categorize by the search engines, and your search engine listings could be shown with enhanced data.

Eric is an affiliate marketer & consultant specializing in PHP programming and search engine optimization.

Download the entire FeedFront issue 16 here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/69193074/FeedFront-Magazine-Issue-16

FeedFront issue 16 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article00date/2011/10

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