Helping Machines Read, A Simple Microformat Case Study
I recently made Betterdot’s Contact Us page both human and machine readable by adding hCard microformat markup to the underlying XHTML. This notion of “machine readable” content is arguably abstract and somewhat obscure however. What do we mean? What do machines see? Perhaps a picture (or three) are worth the proverbial 1,000 words.
When a human reader, using a web browser, looks at the page, he or she sees this:
Without semantic markups such as the hCard microformat markup, a machine (for example a Google bot crawling the Betterdot site for indexing) sees this:
With semantic markups such as the hCard microformat markup, the same machine or bot sees this:
In Layman’s terms, microformats help machine “read” data marked up with microformat tags on the page. While “reading” falls short of true semantic “understanding”, microformats are certainly a step in the right direction.