Microformats fast becoming a must for Digital Marketing

Digital Marketers have begun to leverage the use of microformats. The microformats standard over RDF is becoming the preferred way for integrated digital marketers to work with their IT departments to unlock the secrets of microformats and harness its benefits.

What are Microformats?

Microformats (μF) convey metadata to search engines in a format which can be crawled, parsed, indexed and semantically stored. This web based approach to semantic markup utilizing HTML/XHTML tags makes it very easy for search engines to categorize and cross reference the data, providing users a richer search experience.

Which formats are being used currently by ecommerce organizations?

The most widely used tag is the hReview tag. These are being used by vendors like Bazaar Voice and Power Reviews. UGC (User Generated Content) which is in the center of the content rave is being augmented by the hReview tag to present the’reviews data’ to search engines. Submissions of product feeds to data is then cross referenced by Google who then applies Rich Snippets to the Product link in the SERPs

How should I implement the hReviews tag?

The reviews data (aggregate as well as individual reviews data) is being widely used in an I-Frame, although my preferred method would be to integrate an API from the UGC vendor to populate the reviews data on the product page itself, which would in turn provide the target page the entire SERP juice. Of course, a canonical tag would be in order as well to avoid a duplicate content penalty.

What I am really excited about is the hMedia tag and the hProduct tag. These tags are not yet individually accepted by Google but their inclusion may be near.

How should I prepare to market Videos in the digital space?

The hMedia tag would benefit video indexing and referencing in the broad based search results. Since Google had opened up its UI in its search engine results page by opening up the left navigation to include Videos, Blogs etc, marketers have an opportunity to begin testing the hMedia tag in a sandbox environment. They should begin to plan how this metadata would programmatically populate their Media Asset Management platform for Videos. You Tube is not the only game in town. The Broadcasting community should be especially prepared to implement this integration as soon as the acceptance of the hMedia tag is announced.

The individual hProduct tag inclusion presents digital marketers yet another opportunity to harvest organic search results as part of their marketing mix. As with the hMedia tag seamless implementation of this tag in the front end HTML would be an early key to success. Bringing stakeholders from IT, Digital Marketing and Taxonomy early in the planning process would be advantageous.

What should organizations learn from microformats?

Organizations who are first to implement microformats would emerge as short term leaders in their respective industries with a near term opportunity to lead. These infrastructure improvements would easily offset some of the Paid and display spend; search engines of course would want you to believe otherwise.

What is the future of microformats?

Microformats are in an early stage of semantic communication through this markup. The search engines love the concept of cross referencing this data to provide users with a richer search experience with semantic links in the form of video, social media, blogs etc. The evidence is in the new Google UI for SERPs and a few days ago with Google News. Mashups of hProduct, hMedia, hReviews and various other combinations would likely follow.

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