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.


MICROFORMATS JUST GOT TOP BILLING

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.

STRONG SEO AND GOOGLE PLACE PAGE RANKING

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.

LOCAL SEO IS NOT DEAD

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?

MICROFORMATS ARE NOT JUST A GOOGLE THING

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.

MICROFORMATS BEYOND REVIEWS

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…

MICROFORMAT RECIPES

MICROFORMAT EVENT LISTINGS

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

MICROFORMAT IMPLEMENTATION RESOURCES

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.

BREADCRUMBS

Google provides a quick overview for implementing Breadcrumbs

Microformats.org entry on blog post formats for breadcrumbs

CONTACTS

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

ADDRESS INFORMATION

Here’s the Draft Microformat Specification for Addresses

REVIEWS

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

PRODUCTS

The official Microformats.org hProduct draft specification

Yoast’s article on implementing hProduct and hReview in Magento

EVENTS

Google’s Implementation Guide for Microformat Event listings

The official Microformats.org hCalendar Standard for Events

Joomla Extension for the hCalendar Microformat

GEO DATA

The official Microformats.org Geo draft specification for geographic coordinates

RECIPES

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

Official Microformats.org hRecipe draft specification

RESUME’S

WordPress Plug-in for implementing hResume Microformats

Official Microformats.org hResume draft specification

ASTRONOMY

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.

ADDITIONAL MICROFORMAT RESOURCES FOR DEVELOPERS

PHONE NUMBER SKYPE AUTO-DIALER FOR WEB SITES

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.

MAC USER MICROFORMAT HIGHLIGHTER

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

MICROFORMAT PARSERS FOR DEVELOPERS

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…

RUBY ON RAILS MICROFORMAT HELPER

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

COLDFUSION MICROFORMATS CFC

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

YOAST ON MICROFORMATS

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

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

TESTING MICROFORMATS

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

MORE MICROFORMAT SPECIFICATIONS AND DRAFT SPECS

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

ADD YOUR EXPERIENCE / RESOURCES

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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