Twitter Uses Microformats

While using Twitter this week, I realized their programmers had incorporated Microformats in the design! I noticed that my Operator Toolbar was responding to the Microformat content in the page, and making it available for me to export.

As you can see from my Twitter profile page, Operator has found Contacts and an Address available in the page. Note the “Contacts” and “Addresses” buttons in the browser toolbar are not grayed out, but are showing as clickable.

The Contacts is returning hCard Microformat info not just for me, but also for all of the 36 twitterers that I follow and whose icons appear on my profile page.

The Address is apparently supposed to be my personal profile’s address data, but it’s not interpreting quite right for me. I think this is because it places the entire Twitterer’s location content in the “adr” value, without breaking the content out into the street address, locality, region and country. Also, the hCard profile attribute isn’t included in the page’s tag.

Still, Twitter’s incorporation of the Microformats in the page code is exciting to me! Why? Well, I’ve written before about how incorporating Microformats can potentially be advantageous for the purposes of Local Search Optimization here and here. Essentially, this can help search engines to more easily interpret the address info on webpages and associate business information with webpages.

Yahoo! has been the fastest at adoption of Microformat content, with Google following close behind. Yahoo’s Search Monkey platform (which allows both Yahoo engineers and all other web developers to create applications which deliver up special webpage listing representations in Yahoo search results) has shown very clearly that Yahoo’s bot has been tooled to particularly harvest Microformat data from webpages in order to make special use of that amongst the various signals they get from sites.

Does Google use Microformats? Yes and no. Google Maps has incorporated Microformats in the display of their search results so that users can access, export and use business and address data easily. However, it’s not yet entirely clear if they spider that same data from local web pages as part of the info they collect in categorizing and ranking pages. Google Maps engineers have told me off the record that they watch all types of data like this, and if there’s a significant number of sites using it, then they will also make use of it in their ranking “secret sauce”. With a high-profile site like Twitter incorporating Microformats, there’s yet more incentive for Google to adjust their data collection algos to incorporate hCard data if they have not already.

In the past week, I wrote an article on how small businesses can and are using Twitter for local marketing. Twitter’s incorporation of Microformats further underscores the value of the service as a component of Local SEO.

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