What is microdata?
Microdata – is the code (semantic vocabulary) that you put on the website to embed machine-readable data in HTML documents. Microdata consists of name-value pairs (known as “items”) defined according to a vocabulary. Collection of commonly used markup vocabularies are provided by schema.org. Schema.org – that rare case, when all the main competitors (Google, Yahoo, Yandex and Microsoft) unite to form “collaborative, community activity with a mission to create, maintain, and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet, on web pages, in email messages, and beyond”.
Marking your site with microdata, you give the search engine bots an opportunity not just to read your code, but to understand it. They return more informative results about your site, using “rich snippets”. The schema org gives the following explanation on the plain language: <h1>Avatar</h1> tells the browser how to display the text string “Avatar” in a heading H1 style format. However the HTML tag doesn’t give any information about what that text means: “Avatar” could refer to the hugely successful 3D movie, or it could refer to the type of profile picture. And this can make it more difficult for the search engines to intelligently display relevant content to a user”.
What is rich snippet?
Normally, the result in SERP includes a title, the link and a snippet (short description), usually containing the keyword, that was in user’s query. Sometimes engines display the most relevant part of text from the page in snippet, but if you have your Meta tag “description” filled in – most likely it will be shown as a snippet.
Rich snippet – shows more extended information. Benefits for you – an eye catching effect and as a result – the potential CTR increase. For user – it gives the fast access to the site information that might be helpful. For the search engines – the way to provide “quality” and more relevant results.
And though Google in the person of Jason Douglas, who coordinates the integration of schema.org into Google’s search products, continue to indicate, that structured markup is not used as a ranking signal – there are still a lot of SEO benefits to use microdata schemes. And not just because the rich snippet takes more space on the page (what is very important without the doubt), but also it may help you to build more tight connections with your audience. Imagine you are searching for the bunch of flowers. And in the result page some company catches your eye. Their rich snippet gives you the information what kind of bunches they have, also they are letting you know, that they are selling indoor and garden plant!
Then you notice, that to the right of the result there is an information about where this flower store is located, open hours, and even 24/7 delivery. And they have high rates among the customers! Most likely you will purchase the bunch their, and maybe even add the site to “favorites” in case you would like to buy something else there.