File Under: HTML5, Programming

Google Doubles Down on ‘Microdata’ With New Recipe Search

Google has rolled out a new recipe search tool to help you find delicious recipes on the web. Our friends at Epicenter have more details on Google’s announcement, but the real news for web developers is that Google’s recipe search is built almost entirely off microdata.

As we’ve pointed out before, microdata — little snippets of code that offer search engines additional information about your content — is one of the best-kept secrets in HTML5. Google’s recipe search tool not only highlights just how useful microdata is, it also may give developers the extra incentive they need to start using more microdata on the web.

While Google makes no guarantee that using microdata will raise your website’s standing in search results, the company is clearly using microdata when it finds it.

Google’s microdata support is format-agnostic, which means it can read Microdata, Microformats and RDFa. Google collectively refers to the three as “rich snippets.”

All three formats work in similar ways, extending HTML by adding custom vocabularies to your pages. The main difference between the three is the specific syntax used.

Which one should you use? In most cases one is not better than the other, just different. Because much of the inspiration behind HTML5 Microdata came from the efforts of the Microformats community, the two are very similar. The third option, RDFa, is somewhat more complex and in many situations it may be more difficult to implement.

If you’d like to add HTML5 Microdata to your site, check out our article on Microdata. Technically the Microdata spec has been removed from the W3C’s draft version of HTML5 and is now a standalone spec. Like HTML5, the W3C considers the Microdata spec to be a draft, which means it could change in the future. If that makes you nervous, Microformats, which have been around quite a bit longer and are more widely used, may be more to your liking. For more on adding Microformats to your site check out our write up on how to mix HTML5 and Microformats.

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