The use of Microformats and RDFa is becoming more commonplace among search engines. Yahoo has been indexing and using RDFa and Microformats meta data for a short while and now Google has ‘come to the party’ (although Google use of the data will be limited for now – and calls RDFa ‘Rich Snippets’). Microformats and, particularly, RDFa use will become very widespread over the next few years but what does this mean for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Why Search Engines care about RDFa and Microformats
RDFa (and Microformats but we’ll just use the RDFa to signify both henceforth in this article) brings meaning to data in a way that the search engines are able to understand. In a very simplistic explanation, RDFa helps the search engines to understand what the data is about and how it relates to other data. For example my name in HTML (Gary Eckstein) is just text without specific meaning to search engines. By using RDFa the search engine understands that Gary Eckstein is a name. If I then define using RDFa what I do (search engine consultant) and where I live then the search engine easily knows that Gary Eckstein is my name, I am an SEO consultant and I live in Sydney, Australia. In the past a search engine couldn’t easily distinguish between the name Sydney and the place Sydney for example. What this means is that search results can become much more precise when using RDFa data contained in websites. Once RDFa is widespread searches for people, places, products etc. and the relationships between them will be far more accurate.
Using RDFa and Microformats for SEO
Google, Yahoo and the other search engines are fully aware that their competitive advantage lies in providing the most accurate search results possible (as an example of the necessity of search accuracy, look at all the publicity Wolfram Alpha is getting). RDFa is the ‘way forward’ to achieve better quality results so here are a few basic steps which may be taken to assist Google and Yahoo with their RDFa endeavours (assisting search engines to crawl and understand your data is what SEO is all about after all):
- Go to microformats.org. Here you will be able to create the necessary meta data to insert into your website or blog (e.g. hcard and hcalendar). Create and insert the necessary code.
- Publicise RDFa and the benefits through your blog or website. RDFa is going to be huge so why not become known as an early adopter (Google and Yahoo will pick up that people are visitng your site for RDFa information).
- Create and insert even basic RDFa meta data into your clients websites (if you are a web developer or web designer).
Google and Yahoo index RDFa and Microformats
It’s early days yet for RDFa and Microformats seeing that Google and Yahoo are just starting to index and use the meta data. Indexing and the relevancy of the RDFa and Microformats in search results is set to gain traction is a very big way so it’s good practice to start incorporating the necessary meta data in websites and blogs now.
P.S. You may notice a green and black icon on the top left of this page (depending on which browser you use). This is the Oomph icon (implemented in WordPress via the WP-Oomph plugin) which shows hcard and hcalendar Microformats information when present on a Web Page.