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Microdata and Its Impact on Your Website’s SEO

microdata and schemaBy now, you’re certainly aware that Google, Bing, and other search engines roam the Internet looking for your websites. Automated processes read the text of your site and index them for future search results. You actually have the ability to help Google and the others in this endeavor. Microdata, or micro-formatting, allows webmasters to mark up, or label, some of the data that appears on a web page to ensure search engines read and correlate this information correctly.

A Look at Properly Formatted Microdata

The easiest way to explain how to work with microdata is just to show you the before and after HTML of a part of your website.

Here’s the PCG address without any sort of microdata or HTML markup:

PCG Digital Marketing
446 Route 35 South
Building C
Eatontown, NJ 07724
732-450-8200 office
732-440-4772 fax
www.PCGDigitalMarketing.com

Since it’s formatted in the standard way of posting an address, you shouldn’t have any trouble reading that and understanding what line of information means what on the screen. You know that “Eatontown, NJ 07724″ is the name of the town, then the name of the state, and finally the zip code. We know this because we know the pattern.

However, on the backend of your website, you can use microdata to spell it out to the search engines what that content is using microdata from Schema.org. Schema.org offers a collection of shared terminology webmasters can use to mark up their pages in ways that are understood by the major search engines.

Here’s how the same address is written using microdata from Schema.org,:

<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>
<span itemprop=”name”>PCG Digital Marketing</span>
<span itemprop=”streetAddress”>446 Route 35 South
Building C</span>
<span itemprop=”addressLocality”>Eatontown</span>,
<span itemprop=”addressRegion”>NJ</span>
<span itemprop=”postalCode”>07724</span>

<span itemprop=”telephone”>732-450-8200</span>
<span itemprop=”faxNumber”>732-440-4772 </span>
<a href=”http://www.pcgdigitalmarketing.com” itemprop=”url”>
</div>

Analyzing Microdata Schema for Your Business

The first thing you notice is the div (A div is a tag that defines a division or a section in an HTML document) that envelops the rest of the address. It has a declaration of itemtype which is set to “http://schema.org/PostalAddress.” This tells the data parser that all the meta data enclosed within is all related to the same single entity, which in this case is a postal address. This div will be treated like any other div on your website and you can manipulate or format it using CSS after you give it a unique name.

Notice too that the rest of the parts of the address have been broken up and are now surrounded by spans that have an itemprop designation.  You can see how each one is descriptive of the part of the address it holds. This assures that the search engines and other programs that can determine data categorize the information correctly and attribute it back to the same (in this case) address.

Finally, the URL in the example is denoted as such. Obviously, this is a valuable piece of information for search results and the engines will treat and display it as such.

Microdata and Your Website’s SEO

Using effectively marked up microdata can help the crawlers of the search engines interpret and index your website properly.  But it’s important to understand that this is a marathon, not a sprint. While it can and will help Google understand how to categorize your site, it can still take over two months to see results. This is a best practice, not a black-hat technique.

If your websites aren’t making use of this technology, you’re missing out on one of the few ways you can participate in to influence how your website is indexed and how your information is presented. Give PCG a call today to let us help you make the most out of the Schema microdata and get your site noticed!

Brian Lundy

Brian Lundy is a web designer and Coldfusion web developer for PCG Digital Marketing. He also specializes in search engine optimization and CSS.

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