Make Microformats Work For You – Ignore Them

Microformats are the latest topic to confuse budding webmasters.

But are they relevant to WordPress website owners, and will they help or hinder your marketing efforts.

More to the point – what are they?

The buzz for webmasters is that microformats help you on Google. But there are one or two fairly large points missing from that.

Before we look into those, let me explain what microformats are. They are tags in your web page, similar in operation to HTML tags. Whereas HTML tags change the appearance of text, microformats tell search engines and other robots what your text means. More specifically they describe the context of your text as structured data.

Whoopi-f-ing-doo you cry, or at least “so what.”

But wait, this is important.

If a search engine can interpret the type of information you are presenting, it can list you better. It puts your information into the right context. You can explicitly distinguish the author of a work from a work about an author.

Your words, with these descriptive tags, are known as rich snippets. If you currently earn money by providing content that includes reviews, people, businesses, organizations, events or video, then you need these snippets to help you get richer.

Why Microformats?

A search engine that might have sent you a little traffic from time to time has more information on rich snippets (including a validation tool), but before you investigate that, consider what is missing from the “Google & Microformats: Drive More Traffic” article.

There are two ways of providing rich snippets: microformats and RDFa. Microformats are more common, but RDFa is to be implemented in HTML 5, so is more likely to become the standard in future. In fact search volumes for RDFa have just started to outstrip microformats. I believe webmasters should focus on RDFa.

WordPress Rich Snippets

The second missing point, close to the heart of WordPress webmasters, is how can I add some rich snippets without hand-coding all my articles?

There is some good news there. If you are yet to be convinced on the microformats vs RDFa debate, search the plugin database for microformats. You will get 27 results at the time of writing – let me know if any of them help you.

For RDFa, there are only two results in the search, but a third one is hidden in the secret lair of WordPress plugin developers who like to hide their work behind poor tagging and descriptions. I’ll review these in detail sometime soon, but if you’d like to check them for me (and maybe write a guest review?), they are:

Dublin Core for WP
A plugin to add Dublin Core metadata to all posts and pages. I will let you know later if this is currently supported by the author or someone else.
Image Licenser
Provides an easy way to tag embedded images with a Creative Commons license. This uses RDFa, to enable search engines finding your images even if the user filters for CC licenses. A very new plugin from Raphael Mack.
wp-RDFa is a WordPress plugin to bring the Semantic Web to your WordPress blog. Currently this plugin supports FOAF and the Dublin Core. WP-RDFa seems very much alive and supported from SquareCows.

2 thoughts on “Make Microformats Work For You – Ignore Them

  1. Raphael mack

    Hi,the idea behind the image-licenser plugin is simple: I am convinced, that using an open licensing scheme (as CreativeCommons or free software) has big potential to make the internet community produce great thing. As I have some images I wanted to provide the ability to reuse them and looked for a way to tag them, such that users can find the data. And found RDFa.As directly using RDFa and editing the HTML source is not what I want for quick “here is some image, you use if you like” – style blog posts I hacked this plugin. Mainly for my own needs: publishing images and tag it with RDFa to denote the work to be licensed under a CC license.I’m happy to improve it, if anyone has suggestions. Please feel free to comment!Rapha

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