Targeting Multiple Locations for Search – Microformats

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Map with multiple locations
Microformat example: the mechanism

This week I was chatting with my Hall colleague, Mike Johnston, about targeting multiple locations for search, and asked if he was familiar with using microformats (also known as rich snippets) a data format embedded in a web page that can specify to Google the purpose of the content separately from the context or the design on the page. This mark up allows search engines to automatically process the information that is intended for a user accurately so it can be indexed and cross-referenced in other areas.

This mark up is widely used for recipes and reviews, but there are location-specific contexts as well, specifically when a website is trying to increase visibility in a specific region or city. Businesses can both embed location formats providing addresses and phone numbers directly in their web pages and feeds, as well as markup existing latitude and longitude coordinates in the context of the rest of the information. Below is an example from Emilitsa’s profile in Urban Spoon (I took the liberty to remove some of the formatting code for demonstration purposes):

Now, if I were to implement rich snippets for the Emilitsa’s website, it would look something like this:

The <div class= “vcard”> indicates the HTML code following is a microformat.

And if you feel like geeking out a bit more, here’s a great reference guide by Alan Bleiweiss at Search Marketing Wisdom. You can also see the different implementations on Microformats.org.

UPDATE 6.11.11 – Since search engines like to keep us on our toes… now that you are fully aware of how structured data such as microformats can benefit search results, Google, Bing and Yahoo announced a new standardized collaboration of microdata types at schema.org.

Microformats will continue to be supported under this new collaboration, but eventually they will be phased out.

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