Rich Snippets (the term Google uses for Microformats, RDFa and Microdata) is used by many larger organizations. Rich Snippets is essentially data that conforms to a specific standard so that machines may understand the data. For example, say that I want to write a review, then I may use the hreview Microformat standard to review a product or service. Search Engines are then able to understand that it is a review, what rating I give to the product or service and even the exact product or service I am reviewing. The Search Engine will then be able to amalgamate the various ratings from all over the Web for that specific product or service.
Online reviews are becoming a major reason for a person buying (or not buying) a product or service as people come to trust individual reviews and ratings more than adverts. It makes sense then for Website owners to embrace common standards such as Rich Snippets and for the Search Engines to use this data in the SERPs.
Until recently however, there was no standard for describing reviews in a machine readable way. Resnick, Zeckenhauser, Fiedman and Kuwabara described in their paper ‘Reputation Systems: Facilitating Trust in Internet Transactions’ that an obstacle to distributed feedback systems is the lack of portability between systems of reviews. The hreview Microformat addresses this shortfall by providing portability of reviews.
With Google announcing that it has started to index and display Microformats, RDFa and Microdata in SERPs it makes sense, from an SEO perspective, to format reviews and contact information according to Microformats, RDFa or Microdata standards. Many larger organizations are already displaying relevant data formatted per the necessary standards such as Amazon.com reviews being in the hreview format. There are also companies providing hreview format services for organizations such as LouderVoice.
A cool free Tool that Google provides assists with visualising how Microformats, RDFa or Microdata rich Webpages may look in the Google SERPs.
A review of the Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool is provided below in Microformats hreview format (click for how the Rich Snippets Testing Tools views the review below):
Rich Snippets Testing Tool is a good start
Jul 23, 2010 by Gary
Google provides many helpful free tools for Webmasters. These tools typically assist in making Website content more Search Engine Friendly. One of the lesser known Tools provided in Webmaster Tools by Google is the beta version of the ‘Rich Snippets Testing Tool’. This Tool will become ever more relevant to Webmasters and SEO experts as Rich Snippets (Microformats, RDFa and Microdata) is indexed and displayed further by Google in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). If your Webpage has Rich Snippet data then all one needs do is put the URL into the Tool and click ‘Preview’. How the Microformats, RDFa or Microdata information will then be displayed in the SERPs is shown. Unfortunately however the types of Rich Snippets identified and displayed by the Tool is still limited. For example, hreview meta will display however hcard data won’t. From a Search Engine Optimization perspective, Microformats, RDFa and Microdata data will increasingly become more important. The Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool will become more important as more Rich Snippet data is shown in the SERPs.