Microformatting is a method of integrating HTML tags from Schema.org into your website source code to help search engines like Google understand the relationship of your content to your web page which will help to earn expanded listings in search engine result pages. For those unfamiliar with expanded listings, here are a few examples.
As you can see, these expanded listings offer substantially more exposure and therefore more traffic volume coming in through the SERPs. These examples only show the most basic use of expanded listings.
Notice the addition of the fully functional search box within Target’s listing. Also take notice of the other listings that take advantage of the ability to display a photo as well as detailed recipe information. These are very valuable additions to any search listing that will result in more exposure and valuable traffic.
How to Get Expanded Listings
You get expanded listings by using microformatting within the HTML of your page. This basically means putting additional tags in your code that tell search engines what exactly they’re looking at. For example, Food Network used a special tag to let the search engines know that the image of the margarita and the rating for that particular recipe should be included within their search listing.
The library of tags available to expand your listings is very large and tags are provided for virtually every conceivable use. The full list of tags can be found at Schema.org. You will need to go through the full list to find what is suitable for your needs.
Once you have found the tags that you want to use you will need to implement it according to the examples shows on Schema.org. Here is one of their examples showing how to get an embedded video to display alongside your search listing:
As you can see, the implementation is fairly simple. What’s not so simple is knowing whether or not your live results will be as you intend them to be. Fortunately, there’s a tool to help you preview what your listings will look like once they’re live.
Use this tool to fine-tune your microformatting until it looks exactly as you would like. And once you’re happy with the results you can sit back and wait for your listings to be updated. As is to be expected with search engines however, there’s no guarantee that all of your microformatting will be integrated into your search listing, since what you’re doing is essentially just offering suggestions for search engines to choose whether or not to adopt. However the potential value from expanded search listings will make it worth your time and effort.