Mummy Bloggers - Mark up your Reviews for Better Visibilty in Search Engines

In recent weeks, I've been marking up my book reviews using microformat review code. This will enable my reviews to appear more prominently in search engine results where rich snippets are available, like this:

An example of a "marked-up" review in Google search results

Unlike regular search results which display only plain text, pages which are marked up using microformats are more eye-catching and concise, containing star-ratings, summaries and more.

Many major websites have been marking up their pages using microformats for some time, but as Google is beginning to display rich snippets among regular search results it's important for us as independent bloggers to keep up and retain our search engine rankings!

So in this post I'll explain how we can easily mark up our review posts and enhance their ranking in search engine results.

How to mark up review posts for rich snippets

In order to mark up posts using microformats, we need to edit the HTML content of the post.

Most blogging services (such as Wordpress, Blogger and TypePad) allow us to switch between HTML and WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) post editors.

By editing the HTML of our posts, we are able to wrap important information in our posts in unobtrusive <span> or <div> tags using class names required for microformat mark-up.

These class names tell Google (and other search engines) what the content refers to. For example:
  • <span class="summary"> defines a summary of the review
  • <span class="reviewer"> defines the name of the person writing the review
The following explains all of the possible class names which can be used to define information contained in reviews:







Property

Description

itemreviewed (item)
The item being reviewed. In microformats, can include the name of the item reviewed (fn).

rating

A numerical quality rating for the item (for example, 4). You can indicate a rating scale by specifying best (default: 5) and worst (default: 1).

reviewer

The author of the review.

dtreviewed

The date that the item was reviewed in ISO date format.

description

The body of the review.

summary

A short summary of the review.


Examples of marked-up reviews


Here is a very basic example of a review which has not yet been marked up using microformats:

Anutha Buggy
Reviewed by MumBloggerSue on January 6 2011.

Not bad for the price, but lacking in features

A cute basic pram in bold red to suit both boys and girls. Has front swivel wheels and reclines fully for newborns, but comes with no accessories and is awkward to put up and down. Not great for public transport journeys, but a good choice for those on a tight budget.

Rating: 3.5

Here is the same post, marked up with span tags to include all of the data from the table above:
<div class="hreview">
<span class="item"><span class="fn">Anutha Buggy<span><span>
Reviewed by <span class="reviewer>MumBloggerSue<span> on <span class="dtreviewed">January 6 2011.<span class="value=title" title="2011-06-01"><span><span>

<span class="summary">Not bad for the price, but lacking in features.<span>

<span class="description">A cute basic pram in bold red to suit both boys and girls. Has front swivel wheels and reclines fully for newborns, but comes with no accessories and is awkward to put up and down. Not great for public transport journeys, but a good choice for those on a tight budget.<span>

Rating: <span class="rating">3.5</span>
</div> 

How this example works

  • In the first line, class="hreview" indicates that the HTML enclosed in the
    describes a review.
  • The structured information is conveyed by the class attribute (such as class="rating" and class="reviewer", and the values (such as 3.5, MumBloggerSue). You can change the tags such as span and div to suit your formatting needs.
  • Properties can contain other properties. In the example above, the property item describes the subject of the review, and includes the subproperty fn(name).

About the time formatting

Because it would be virtually impossible to define a single means of formatting dates across the entire web, Google reccomends that we include review dates in ISO format by atributing this as the "title" within span tags, as in the example above.

Using this date format, the numeric month comes first, followed by the date, and finally the year (using four digits).

In our example, the date January 6th 2011 is translated as <span class="value-title" title="01-06-2011"></span>

This is nested within the dtreviewed section, and is the only "empty" tag allowed by Google in rich snippet markup.

*Google prevents all other empty span and div tags from being used for rich snippets to prevent spammers from misusing the format. By ensuring marked up pages contain real content and not simply keywords, the integrity of search engine results is maintained.


A review post generator (for those who'd like to mark-up their posts the easy way!)

I've created a handy "Review Generator" for those who prefer to mark up their posts the easy way ;)

Using this review generator, you can easily mark up your review posts using microformats, for increased visibility in search engines.

Simply fill in the form and generate your code. You can even preview your review to make sure everything is correct before copy/pasting the code into your post editor.

Head over to the review generator page to generate your own review posts, and please tell your friends if you find this useful!


Microformats for recipe posts

Google also analyses pages marked up as recipes for rich snippets and inclusion in the recipe search engine.

I've already created a tool you can use to mark up recipe posts with microformats over at Blogger Buster.


Is this post useful for you?

I realise that many British parent bloggers provide reviews on their sites and hope that this post will prove useful in increasing the visibility of your posts in search results. It may also assist when requesting products to be reviewed as you can explain the value of marked-up posts as an incentive =]

Please do let me know if you have found this post useful, or if you would like to read more blogging-themed posts like this by leaving your comments below.