A New Vocabulary for Search Engines

June 28, 2012 by  Filed under: SEO 

Search engines are getting better, faster, and “smarter” all the time. But with the millions of websites competing for search engine rankings, it can be a challenge to get your small business website not only indexed by the search engines, but also to get it ranked in the top of the search results. But now, thanks to something called microdata, you can tell the search engines precisely what you want them to know about your business in a way that they can clearly understand.

Microdata is a set of tags that can be included in your website’s “behind-the-scenes” code (e.g., meta data), allowing you to include very specific information about your business. These tags are not visible to human website visitors, but they are very important to the search engine spiders that visit your website. By providing the spiders with specific microdata, they can build a specific understanding of who you are and what you do based on the microdata included in these tags.

For example, a local business providing accounting services could use the tags “LocalBusiness>>FinancialService>>AccountingService.” Or, a local retailer with a brick-and-mortar store selling Sporting Goods could be tagged as “LocalBusiness>>Store>>SportingGoods.” These pre-defined tags are standardized so they can be easily understood by machines – in this case, search engines – providing them with a better understanding of your business.

By adding microdata to your web pages, you supply machine-understandable information that Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others can then use to return better, more relevant results based on an enhanced understanding of your website. It’s like saying, “hey Google, this web page is about a men’s clothing store in Brighton Michigan.” So if local users search for “men’s shirts,” the search engines would already know that the clothing store is a relevant result because the microdata specifically told them so.

Optimizing your website (SEO) is big job; there are hundreds of ranking signals used today that are constantly being evaluated to give users the best, most relevant results possible. Microdata is a fairly recent development (introduced in HTML5) that can help your site communicate more effectively with the search engines. So in addition to using the right keywords, adding fresh content, social sharing, and other SEO techniques, you can now add microdata to your SEO strategy to help your business increase visibility on the web and get better results in the search engines.

Lauren Hobson is the Editor of Biz Talk Newsletter and the Five Sparrows Marketing Blog from Five Sparrows, LLC. Read the most recent Five Sparrows articles on small business websites and marketing on our business blog at http://www.fivesparrows.com/blog, or subscribe to our free newsletter at http://www.fivesparrows.com. Copyright 2012 Five Sparrows, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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