Microformats: do they really help with SEO?

As I said before, I’m new to the Website findability jargon. So when I first read about microformats I thought: “yet another tool that nobody really uses but everybody likes to talk about”. Well, I was wrong.

Microformats are easy and useful

Microformats have been in used since a long time in the traditional vcard and hcard format. They are a nothing but a way to “format” the HTML mark-up to make it more “accessible” to search engines. They essentially structure the data or content of a webpage so that Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines can identify, read and list a webpage’s content.

But there is more to this. Without structuring the data and information presented, search engines spiders would not “trust” the content of a webpage. Basically, using microformats allows web developers to optimise the searchability of their webpage: making them easy to track, to package and to “sell” to users.

Microformat recipe in Search results
Microformat for a recipe

More than just a gimmick

Another thing to keep in mind is that Microformats are only one of many ways to structure data for Search. These are for example: microdata, RDFa, JSON LD. All these Rich snippets formally convey the identity of a website and are used as a first point of call in search results.

For this reason, people often assume that using microformats will automatically contribute positively to SEO. In reality, the webpage is only made more attractive and highlighted in the SERP and this in turn might increase Click-Through-Rate (CTR). This definitely does not undermine the importance of titles, metatags, headings and other keywords.

Verdict?

To be honest, I find this idea of meta-structuring the already structured HTML mark up a great way to reflect on the UX and UI of Web development. It is more than just putting webpages together and designing their appearance. There is a lot of strategic thinking going on behind the scene. Ultimately, the main destination of a webpage is the target user. And what better way to reach the final line than use all the available tools for better findability?

In my next post, I will be looking at how to use JSON LD (recommended by Google) to design quick and effective structured data.

Sources:

The Foundry: https://www.oohology.com/the-foundry/will-microformats-improve-your-seo

DotCult: http://www.dotcult.com/seo-guide-to-microformats/

Quora: https://www.quora.com/How-do-microformats-boost-SEO

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