What Are Microformats And Should My Website Have Them?

Chances are you have recently come into contact with microformats without even being aware of it.  Essentially, microformats are ways to highlight key areas on a website to make it easier for this information to be read by machines (see: search engines).

Contact information and customer reviews are two key areas in which microformats are commonly used.  Most intriguingly, these particular microformats are often used in support of ‘rich snippets’.  Rich snippets (think customer reviews displayed in search results) make it easier for search engines to highlight some of your more compelling web content for users.

Is the use of microformats a good thing?

Schools of thought break into one of two camps:

  • Of course!  You are making it easier for search engines to display useful information about your website to users.
  • Maybe not…If all the best content from my website can now be seen in search results, why will people click through to my site?

In deciding whether or not to use microformats, the question is truly this:

Am I more concerned with a tactic that may help with my overall online marketing objective (i.e. make it easier to connect with customers) or am I more interested in achieving a metric (i.e. website traffic).

With microformats remaining a relatively new tactic, this can be a deceivingly difficult question to answer.

As with any other new online tactic, testing the water is always encouraged prior to diving in.

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