Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on November 12th, 2009

Microformats Explained

Although they’ve been around for years, microformats have only recently grown in popularity and are quickly becoming a technology preferred by web developers and SEO folks within their respective practices. Google and Yahoo have taken notice and invest more trust and authority in their information. If this is the first time you’ve heard of microformats, read on for an explanation and how it can help your search engine optimization.


A microformat is a snippet of code that conveys all types of information that can be collected, read, understood and immediately processed by a wide range of software. A search engine or browser can read a microformat and understand the context around the information. Currently, the types of information that microformats can convey include contact information, geographic coordinates, calendar events, reviews, products, social relationships and more.


Microformats help structure your information and easily communicate it so that search engines are able to understand its contextual relationship. The hProduct microformat can provide plenty of information, including brand, category, product name and title, price, description, URL, images, review, and identifier.


When Google’s spiders crawl your site, they may not necessarily understand all the information that is there. If you utilize microformats, then they are able not only to read the information quickly, but understand that information is related to each other. It helps Google index the information so that it can be displayed in search results more effectively.


You use microformats when you want the information on your website more easily readable, better understood and more relational. They come in handy when search engine spiders view your web pages, which is quite often.


Not only do microformats help search engines understand your site more clearly, they help users find information about your website, business, products, etc. Businesses that are optimizing their site in local search, microformats are rumored to increase results found in local directory listings for all the big search engines.

Microformats offer more precise information to a search engine that helps you get ranked quickly and efficiently. The search engines are using microformats in various ways that make the web more semantic and provide a better user experience. They have proven their value thus far, so you can be sure that search engines are going to look for more ways to utilize them. Maybe you should too.