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Microdata For Internet Marketing? Yes, Probably…

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When I started doing background resarch on Microdata, I found a number of good articles written by Aaron Bradley at SEO Skeptic. Aaron seems to have much passion for Microdata and his articles were immeasurably helpful. I urge you to check some of his posts out for even deeper content than what I’m providing here.

A week ago, I knew nothing about Microdata. Now, thanks to a week’s worth of research and implementation, I know a hundred times more than what I knew last week. And I’m going to share what I’ve learned with you in this post…

Microformats, Microdata, Open Graph, etc… What are they?”

Microdata is the latest stage of evolution in a long-term effort to provide search engine spiders (and other machines) greater clarity about a website’s subject matter. Microdata is a type of structured data which includes a family of technologies designed for similar purposes, including RDFa, Microformats and even Facebooks Open Graph.

Let’s try and put this in layman’s terms…

Suppose I were designing a website and wanted to include a business’ address in the footer of every page. Without Microdata, a search engine spider doesn’t really understand that the copy it is reading represents an actual physical location in space. Structured data, (and, specifically, Microdata) represents a set of definitions (represented through a family of HTML5 tags) and a vocabulary, (stored on various URLS, such as schema.org) which together create an actual “descriptive language.” The result of this language is that a machine understands that what it is reading corresponds to an actual place.

To give another example of how Microdata can supply additional, semantic information to search engines consider this…

Suppose I was writing a blog post which referenced the movie classic Casablanca. By itself, the proper noun “Casblanca” can refer to either a city in Africa, a line of ceiling fans or an Oscar winning 1942 movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. By marking your copy up with the appropriate tags and schema.org vocabulary, you can tell any search engine, precisely which meaning you intend.

What implications does Microdata have for internet marketing?

Microdata is important in terms of SEO and internet marketing for one “in the here and now” reason and one theoretical reason. Right now, Google is already using Microdata-provided information to produce search engine results using Rich Snippets.For instance, take a look at this search engine result for long running HBO series, “The Wire:”

Example of Rich Snippet in Search Engine Result

Or this one:
Another Rich Snippet Example

It is clear, here, that Google is offering an enhancement to search engine results by embedding the additional Microdata-derived information in the SERP. Besides movies, Craig Bradford notes in this post that there are (easily) five types of content which could quickly benefit from Microdata markup, including Job Listings, Personal Biographies, News Site Listings & (obviously) E-commerce item descriptions.

The other clear reason to start marking up content with Microdata relates to the institutional commitment Google, Bing & Yahoo have expressed towards its use. It is rare that the 3 major search engines create common cause around a single issue. It is reasonable to believe that this commitment is likely to translate to even richer search engine results for marked-up content in the future.

How do I implement Microdata? What about WordPress?

Implementing Microdata is not difficult. Obviously, any “additional” level of markup will take additional development time. But the good news about Microdata implementation is that, since it is part of the HTML 5 standard, it follows standard HTML 5 markup rules. I will try and write a follow-up post in the future detailing actual markup procedures but, for now, rest assured that any designer/developer with HTML knowledge can implement Microdata markup without much learning curve.

If you’re the webmaster for a WordPress site, there are a number of plug-ins on the market to assist in Microdata markup. I plan on testing the Optimum7 plugin in a future post and, in the meantime, you can check it out for yourselves…

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