There’s been quite a bit of chatter in the SEO space this week about the Big 3 search engines adopting support for microdata. This is good in principle and is already being used for some types of searches like movie & restaurant reviews.
On the surface, any extra information site owners can pass on to engines to help improve what is displayed in search results is a win for searchers and for the engines. What people are getting excited about, however is how that microdata could potentially be used to increase a page’s relevancy for it’s targeted terms. That’s really premature.
First off, the engines have NOT said publicly whether that would be the case. They simply announced on the site that they [Google, Yahoo, and Bing] will rely on this markup to improve the display of search results, making it easier for people to find the right web pages.
Notice how it doesn’t say ANYTHING about improving the ranking of sites that adopt Schema.org structure.
In fact, some have pointed out that it is going to be a lot of work for sites to retroactively add the markup to their sites. I agree with eConsultancy; it will be a lot of work, and you know it is going to be abused in crusades for higher rankings.
That’s not to say that microdata should be completely ignored. For some content it could prove to be extremely powerful if it improves the display of search results. Afterall, no one has a crystal ball to predict just how the engines will be using this data.
Early adopters could end up being rewarded with more detailed search results, but it’s probably best left up to those who have a lot of time to experiment. The other way to look at it: if you have tons of time and resources to devote to your site, why not improve the quality and depth of your content? That is a proven strategy that is going to continue to work for a very long time.