Summary: This article looks at RDFa, Resource Description Framework in attributes, and how you can utilise it for better results in Google.
Firstly, what is RDFa? RDFa stands for ‘Resource Description Framework in attributes’. It allows you to mark certain information within your web pages so that Google knows what that information is. The results are called ‘rich snippets’.
Let’s start with an example:
<div xmlns:v="http://rdf.data-vocabulary.org/#" typeof="v:Person"> My name is <span>Jennifer Wiss</span>, although some people call me <span>Jen</span>. Here's my website: <a rel="v:url" href="http://www.angeldigital.marketing">www.angeldigital.marketing</a>. I live in Nottingham and work as an <span>SEO expert</span> at <span>Angel SEO</span>.</div>
In this example, we start with a namespace declaration using xmlns. This is a bit like declaring your http doc type – it tells Google where it can find a vocabulary to understand what you’ve marked up your content with. The xmlns:v=”http://rdf.data-vocabulary.org/#” namespace declaration can be used any time you’re marking up pages that include data you want to specify as a person, review, product or place.
Moving on in our example, typeof=”v:Person” tells Google that the content you’ve marked up is a person. Nickname is labelled separately as well. Each piece of data is labelled as property = and prefixed with a v: except url, for which you should use rel = (as in the above example).
So why would you want to use RDFa? RDFa tells Google more about your data, for example, denoting that information is definitely an address or contact details or a review. This means Google doesn’t have to figure it out for itself and can be confident enough to display that data to users who are looking for it. How does the data appear to the user?
Suddenly, the user’s search result includes reviews, prices and data that they were looking for (those ‘rich snippets’ we mentioned). Above, the user knows that on this website, 85 reviews are available for the restaurant they are searching for. Knowing that this additional information is available is likely to mean more click throughs to that page. In fact, sites report increases of 15-30% in click throughs from using RDFa.
When launching support for RDFa, Google said:
“It’s a simple change to the display of search results, yet our experiments have shown that users find the new data valuable — if they see useful and relevant information from the page, they are more likely to click through”.
As accuracy becomes more and more important to users, these additional snippets of information are likely to attract more visitors.
Limitations of RDFa
It’s important to remember that RDFa is available to everyone – genuine sites and spammers alike. Consequently, Google isn’t going to take your marked up content as the be-all-and-end-all – in fact, Google won’t display rich snippets for your website unless it trusts your website, logically.
You also need to remember that recognition of RDFa does not suddenly mean all the other factors in relation to your website are suddenly invalid. For example, relevancy is still one of the most important factors – your whole site could be on one topic, with a few listings marked up using RDFa that are on another topic – these aren’t going to convince Google that your site is actually about the second topic. You need to keep your marked up content entirely relevant, the same for any other content. Most SEO experts seem to agree that RDFa helps websites gain more trust rather than impacts relevancy, since RDFa is just mark up and doesn’t change the site’s content.
More help with RDFa
Wikipedia provides a good overview of RDFa with examples and further resources:
Google provides specific guidance on marking up information in the required format here:
Google also provides a testing tool to help you ensure you’ve got your mark up right:
W3.org also provides an excellent tutorial on using RDFa:
To find out about marking video content with RDFa (Yahoo SearchMonkey standard) try this guide: