Microformat Reference Guide for SEO and Developers

With the latest radical change to Google’s listings, which has made some people very unhappy and convinces others that Google cares about Local, Google pushes Place Pages to a higher level of importance.

As far as I’m concerned, first and foremost, it’s their way of forcing more companies to get Place pages, so that millions of new pages will exist where Google can display more AdWords ads.  Pure profit motive.

Except in doing so, Google has given new life to Microformats. So I figure I would provide an overview of various forms of Microformats, followed by a long list of links to various Microformat resources that will hopefully help YOU implement Micforoformats.


Whether this latest Google move flies or not, it clearly shows why sites that use Microformats can have a major impact on search. LinkedIn uses Microformats.  So do Yelp, CitySearch, and many other local directories use Microformats for reviews, among other things.  And they dominate Google Place Page content.


Very early and preliminary testing to see how the Google Place listings appear and how individual sites rank within those appears to show, at least for some listings, that sites with stronger SEO are doing better in place pages.  I also see that sites with lots of reviews are showing up higher than sites without them, though if you click through the Place page listings, it ends up being a mixed bag regarding the reviews factor.


But as far as the SEO factor goes, it makes sense that this would be a signal to Google.  After all, the core of their algorithms has always been SEO as a factor. So this tells me that no, SEO is NOT dead. And even LOCAL SEO is NOT dead.  Think about it.  What better way to signal to Google that you deserve high placement in THEIR one page site about your company than to have a well optimized REAL site, that matches or expands upon what they’ve gleaned from Yelp or other local directories?


And don’t forget – Google is NOT the only game in town.  Other search engines can make use of them as well.  Bing is using Microformats in their local listings, as well as in their rollover display of relevant content for individual results in the web listings…  And THAT is why I think having Microformats on YOUR site can also be of serious use, now more than ever.


Okay so you don’t do SEO for a Yelp or a review site.  Or maybe you do.  If so, you need to be implementing Microformats (or Microdata or RDFa protocols, both being acceptable methods to achieve similar results regarding search engines and their ability to read, and make use of various types of data).

Beyond Reviews, most of us are familiar now with navigation breadcrumbs.  – Sub-navigation links that help visitors quickly jump up in the organizational flow of a site. Well Microformats are a best practice method for displaying breadcrumbs, and in turn, for Search engines to evaluate your content and make use of it in the SERPs. But it goes much further than reviews and breadcrumbs…



Here’s a SERP display for an event aggregation site with Microformats used to display upcoming events in San Francisco.


The above examples are just that – a few examples of how Microformats can be used on web sites, and in turn, show up in search results. 

Here’s a short list of some of the more common Microformat implementation methods you may find useful.


Google provides a quick overview for implementing Breadcrumbs

Microformats.org entry on blog post formats for breadcrumbs


Here’s Google’s overview and sample code for implementing Microformats for Contact information

Microformats.org has more comprehensive information on the hCard Standard for Contact Info

And for the lazy among  us, use this great Microformat Generator for Contact Info using the hCard method

Joomla Extension Directory download for porting hCard microformat data to Joomla


Here’s the Draft Microformat Specification for Addresses


Google’s Implementation Guide for Microformat Reviews

The official Microformats hReview spec

Yoast’s Guide to implementing hReviews in your WordPress Theme

And the handy lazy-way Microformat Generator for Reviews using the hReview method

Opera Developer Community article on how to Style hReviews


The official Microformats.org hProduct draft specification

Yoast’s article on implementing hProduct and hReview in Magento


Google’s Implementation Guide for Microformat Event listings

The official Microformats.org hCalendar Standard for Events

Joomla Extension for the hCalendar Microformat


The official Microformats.org Geo draft specification for geographic coordinates


WordPress Plug-in for implementing Microformats for Recipes on your blog

Official Microformats.org hRecipe draft specification


WordPress Plug-in for implementing hResume Microformats

Official Microformats.org hResume draft specification


The Virtual Astronomy Multimedia Project (VAMP) project is currently defining meta data standards to tag astronomical images used for education and public outreach.  Check out their Astronomy Visualization Metadata Standard draft for Microdata.



Here’s a neat VOIP phone dialer Greasemonkey script you can add to your browser so when you come across phone numbers embedded in an hCard, you’ll be able to automatically call that number through VOIP.


Here’s a CSS implementation you can use in Safari that will highlight Microformats as you surf the web


Here’s a link to the official Microformats.org parser resource page covering several programming languages, including .Net, Java, JavaScript, Sumo, Perl, HTML, XML, Swignition, PHP, XMFP, hKit, Python, Ruby, XSLT, and several others…


Are you a Ruby On Rails developer?  Here’s a Ruby On Rails Microformat Helper Developer Plug-in


Here’s a handy Microformats CFC For all you ColdFusion developers


Joost De Valk has (of course) a great article from earlier this year on implementing Microformats

Richard Baxter (aka SEOGadget) has written several articles on Microformats you’ll find helpful


If you want to test whether your implementation of Microformats works for Google, use their handy  Rich Snippets Testing Tool


Microformats can be used for much more than I’ve covered here.  If you’re curious, check out the official Microformats.org Resources page.

And finally, I leave you a link to a great PDF Microformat Cheat Sheet from Brian Suda


Have a bad experience with Microformats?  Or a Good one?  Let us know…

And if you know of any resources for implementing Microformats on Drupal, Joomla, Magento, or any other CMS platform that I haven’t covered here, or if you’ve got any other confirmed Microformat resource you think would be beneficial, please leave a comment and share!

About Alan Bleiweiss

Just another guy. Who happens to have a lot of experience living, breathing and sleeping organic SEO. So that's my primary focus - high end SEO audits and consulting for sites ranging from thousands to tens of millions of pages. In my spare time I blog, rant, write eBooks, and speak at industry conferences.

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  1. SERPD says:

    Microformat Reference Guide for SEO and Developers…

    With the latest radical change to Google’s listings, which has made some people very unhappy and convinces others that Google cares about Local, Google pushes Place Pages to a higher level of import……

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gabriella Sannino , Alan Bleiweiss, Casse No-i, Sebastian, Alan K'necht and others. Alan K'necht said: RT @AlanBleiweiss: Just Published: Guide to Microformats for SEO & Developers (Google Local Factor) http://seoaud.it/microformats […]

  3. Jim Rudnick says:

    Wow, Alan…absolutely spot-on post!

    Can’t wait to dig into all those links — thanks very much from up here in canuck land, eh!



  4. garethjax says:

    can i use the “recipe” plugin for wordpress, to review rental services ?
    garethjax´s last blog ..Test: mi prenderanno su itunes My ComLuv Profile

  5. Stu says:

    Wow Alan! You have really done it this time. Thanks for all of the links. You could spend days delving into it all. Perfect linkbait too because this can be used as a great reference. Wish I could be at BlueGlass in Florida to hear you and David Mihm on the local stuff. I went to the BlueGlass event in CA. It was awesome!

  6. Ryan Jones says:

    Awesome post. Glad you went into detail about the different types of formats. I wrote a similar guide a few months ago ( http://www.dotcult.com/seo-guide-to-microformats ) and lamented over going into all that detail.

    The biggest problem I have with microformats is that they currently just work one-way. Hcard especially. It seems that while every site under the sun is willing to publish microformats, no sites are willing to read from them.

    I have 200 Hcards (facebook, linkedin, my own website, etc) with my information – so why can’t I just point the next registration form I fill out toward one of them instead of entering all my information again?

    That’s part of what our mission at Identity.net (startup I used to work for) was a few years ago – one profile that you can update and other sites can pull from. Of course, nobody bought into that.
    Ryan Jones´s last blog ..WhoMy ComLuv Profile

    • Good point about the one way issue Ryan. Some sites are starting to read – lots of discussion is taking place in the developer community about the need for it. Yet given that there’s still not enough movement for adoption of Microformats as a best practice (a mistake, in my opinion), I think it’s a matter of time.

  7. Thanks for the great resource list on micro-formats Allan. This would be a very busy reading day.

    Jun Baranggan´s last blog ..New Tools in Google Display NetworkMy ComLuv Profile

  8. Thos003 says:

    Great post Alan. One quick thought about the local SEO… The better optimized sites do better because they are merging the maps into the organics and weighing a site based on both what is in the local map and what is in the organic. If your site showed up in both you now get better map placement, but you lose your organic placent. Meaning you get one map if you where ther or one organic if you are not in the map. In some cases, say “Phoenix pest control”, the one guy who isn’t in the local map actually out ranks all the guys in the map. Lucky draw of the short stick. But in other cases, a site that was once 3rd in the map and 1st in the organic now gets one listing taken away but bumped into the top position on the page. So yes, SEO is still huge, local SEO I’d say is even bigger now. And good news for the little mom and pops, they can now compete agaist the once dominate SEOing national companies. As Matt Cutts put it, “Someone goes up and someone goes down. One guy is happy about the change, one guy is upset.”

    Looking forward to chatting with more about this next week.
    Thos003´s last blog ..Most Unwanted Pests Not to Call an Exterminator AboutMy ComLuv Profile

  9. Doc Sheldon says:

    Great resource, Alan!

    I agree, those that don’t jump on the bandwagon will regret it one day, and I don’t think that day is far off. It’s going to rewrite the way we look at ranking somewhat, but I think in the long run, it may be a good thing.

    I lean more to the RDFa side, for versatility and the fact that W3C has more to do with it than Google does. In the short run, though, I think anything’s better than nothing.

    Thanks for putting in the time to compile all those links!
    Doc Sheldon´s last blog ..What Does the Future Hold for UsMy ComLuv Profile

  10. […] a preoccuparti e inizia a dotarti di un ecommerce che implementi il microformato hproduct (ecco un approfondimento). Questo formato consentirà al tuo ecommerce di essere letto in maniera integrale e trasparente da […]

  11. LMG says:

    Has anyone tested which rich snippets get the best results – microformats, microdata or RDFa?

    • Doc Sheldon says:

      @LMG- I have not personally tested it, but a good friend of mine did test between microformats and RDFa. He saw no discernible difference in the ability to get them displayed, which was the main reason of his testing.

      Since the information conveyed in the rich snippets would typically be about the same between microformats and RDFa, I wouldn’t expect to see a great deal of difference in CTR, either. That said, however, I think that RDFa offers more versatility in conveying information, so as snippet displays evolve, I would expect to see a better CTR from RDFa.

  12. […] Microformat Wiki The Microformat Reference Guide Microformat Options – Microformat or RDFa Google and […]

  13. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cayo Medeiros, Carlos Eduardo and bernarddeluna, D. Godínez. D. Godínez said: RT @yogodoshi RT: @bernarddeluna: RT @putcharles: Microformat reference guide for SEO and Developers http://bit.ly/gFn9pb #microforma… […]

  14. Frank says:

    I employ someone just to check all this.

    Great stuff and very useful.

    Thank you

  15. משקל says:

    It’s best to take part in a contest for among the best blogs on the web. I will advocate this site!

  16. […] if you feel like geeking out a bit more, here’s a great reference guide by Alan Bleiweiss at Search Marketing Wisdom. You can also see the different implementations on […]

  17. […] when I wrote the Microformat Reference Guide for SEO & Programmers. To this day, that’s one of my most successful, visited and linked […]

  18. Abhishek says:

    This is great. I am using microformat for breadcrumbs. Lets see if it does any justice to my rankings and user clicks.
    Abhishek´s last blog ..Google Maps Streets View Comes to IndiaMy ComLuv Profile

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