Using hCard to Improve Local SEO

If you have been doing SEO for some time you must have noticed that search is getting more local with each passing day. If your online business has a ‘local market’ you must rank for local search terms.

There are many ways to optimize a site to rank well in local search results (local SERP) which are beyond the scope of this article. Rather I will focus on a specific tactic that can bring rich dividends to your local search optimization efforts – using hCard microformat.

There are many types of search queries people perform on a search engine. Search for entities like other people, businesses and places are some query types. Search engines have long been trying to provide correct information about such entities on the SERP.  To do that they have to assign special meaning to your content (that have information about people, business or place). But information about entities like people, business, places etc does not have any specific identifier in normal html markup.  In absence of any specific identifier in your content the search engines have to rely on complex parsing techniques to assign special meaning to your content.  This frequently results in misinterpretation of data and incorrect information in SERPs.

hCard is a microformat type used to provide semantic markup information about people, businesses and places.  You can use an hCard microformat to provide correct information about your local business to search engines and other services and tools that support microformat standard.

So how does it relate to Local Search Engine Optimization?

Search engines rely on ‘local’ signals to determine relevancy of a web pages for a ‘local’ search term. These signals include hosting information, geo tags in Meta data and domain extension.

We can add one more to this signals list – contact / business info.

As stated above, in absence of any unique identifier in your content, extracting correct business info from your website can be a hit or miss affair. With an hCard it will only be hits!

Search engines will parse the information on the hCard and display your business information correctly on the SERPs.  Besides, now you have established your site’s relevancy to a particular locality – which means that now your site has a greater chance of showing up in the SERPs for a local search.

Another advantage of using an hCard is that your web page might get a rich snippet in Google web search results. This can lead to increased click through to your site resulting in greater conversion.

Also, some other services and tools that support microformats standard may parse your hCard and display your business information on various web applications leading to more publicity for your website.

How to create an hCard?

An example code block for an organization looks like this –

<div>
<span>L’Amourita Pizza</span>
<span class=”tel”>(206) 555-7242</span>
<div>
<span class=”street-address”>2040 Any Street</span>
<span class=”locality”>Springfield</span>
<span class=”region”>WA</span>
<span class=”postal-code”>98102</span>
</div>
</div>

[source: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=146861]

You can also use the online hCard creator to create an hCard for your website/business.

For more information on microformats and hCard visit: http://microformats.org/wiki/

Lakhya Phukan

At Softz Solutions we think beyond SEO. We are into digital marketing services in India for over a decade. Our global clientele are from all around UK, USA, Australia, Ireland and other European countries. Multifaceted projects, 700+ websites in varied business categories, partnership with top-rated agencies from US, UK, Australia and 90% success rate – are what set us high than others.

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