Using Microformats to Improve Local SEO

August 21st, 2009 • By:  • Local Search

Microformats are gaining popularity, and if you’re not using them, you should be. Google’s introduction of Rich Snippets in May 2009 is just another indication that microformats will continue to gain popularity. And as more sites make use of this structured content, small businesses can capitalize on the use of microformats to help feed relevant information about their business to other websites by using microformats. 

What Are Microformats?

According to a microformats expert, microformats create structure for "content about people, organizations, companies and places." This is mostly in regard to contact information like name, address, telephone number, and email address. Microformats use class values to specify this information, and this allows spiders to extract meaning from that information. Although it’s a little more work since you have to add these class values to the information, the benefit is that machines like Google’s robots are able to easily extract very specific meaning from your content. For example, the picture below shows the search results for a local restaurant search. The rich snippet (extracted by the Googlebot from various microformat data) is circled in red.

The Benefits of Using Microformats?

There are many benefits of using microformats. The most direct application is for improving local search marketing.  Benefits include:

  1. Helps users and spiders discover and parse information about you, and your business or organization
  2. Improves local search marketing efforts for local businesses interested in business directory listings in local search engines like Google Local, Bing Local, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Urban Spoon and others.
  3. Improves the visibility of business reviews in relation to user searches for you, and your business or organization
  4. Improves the visibility of local events in relation to user searches for you, and your business or organization
  5. Contributes to the creation of the semantic web. As more people implement microformats, the more they’ll get used to help machines create relevant structure and meaning from the content and information we provide on websites.

How to Implement Microformats

The best way to implement microformats is to start using them to parse information about yourself on your website. Start with your contact page and create an hcard for your contact information. Next, implement microformats for any reviews or events listed on your website. Then, if you’re really excited about microformats, implement them whenever you mention another person, place, organization, or business on your website.

Don’t worry; if you don’t know much code, there are many microformat tools that can help generate the necessary code; all you have to do is copy and past it into your web page. Here are the specifics.

  1. hcard creator – Use hcard format for people, businesses, places, and organizations.
  2. hreview creator – Use hreview format for reviews.
  3. hcalendar creator – Use hcalendar for events.

The last thing to do is make sure to tell Google you want to be included in its grand microformats experiement. 

Websites and Services Using Microformats

Many websites, social networks and other services are making use of microformats. Here are just a few:

  1. Digg utilizes hcard format for profiles.
  2. Eventful supports hcalendar for its events and hcard for its venues.
  3. Facebook suports hcard for its profiles.
  4. Twitter supports hcard and XFN.
  5. Google maps supports hcard.
  6. Yahoo local supports hcard, hreview and hcalendar.

Convinced yet? Confused? Microformats are just one of the many improvements that can be made to your website to improve your local search marketing.  If you need help implementing this strategy, or just want to discuss your options for local search marketing, please contact us.

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This entry was posted on Friday, August 21st, 2009 at 5:00 am and is filed under Local Search. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Using Microformats to Improve Local SEO”

  1. Mark @ Click 4 Beds Says:

    At the moment the reviews etc in google are taken from their local listings and are only available to people who are logged into googles social search.

  2. Mihmorandum | Links of Local Interest, Volume 9A | Links of Local Interest Says:

    [...] before offering this potential solution to another Maps problem: call tracking numbers.  He’s long been a fan of microformats for Local SEO, introducing even experts to the hCard microformat in a Search Engine Land column a couple of years ago, and would like to see Maps extend this to a “canonical phone tag.”  (For more on microformats, check out this excellent overview by Vertical Response.) [...]

  3. PubCon South 2010 Dallas–Day Two Highlights for Search Marketers | LinkShare Blog Says:

    [...] important, but it appears that reviews and popularity of click-throughs are also important. You can use microformats in coding to give you a slight edge. Google recently introduced rich snippets and these are [...]

  4. Lex Says:

    Ah, I've been wondering how Google etc pulled that info from certain sites. Is there a complete list of the possible class values somewhere?

  5. Fred Meek Says:

    This post is 100% correct, look at the SERPS lately your will see examples of microformats on most results.

  6. Britt Sheldon Says:

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

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