Should webmasters switch to

by on 28th July 2011

*This is now an older, albeit interesting post. If you’re looking for advice on Schema Markup, take a look at our Guide to Rich Snippets*

When search engines announced a universal vocabulary for the next generation of structured data markup we all thought our lives just got a lot easier. The vocabulary offers a greater flexibility in the choice of attributes to mark up data on a web page.

Richard explained the background in greater detail over on seomoz.

I decided to ask, ‘does it work?’ by testing it on a site that has hReview rich snippets in Google’s search results.


For our test, we replaced the existing hReview aggregate with the aggregate-review equivalent:

Testing structured data implementation

During testing, it was extremely difficult to ascertain whether a code snippet will parse correctly into Google’s search results as the rich snippets testing tool doesn’t validate that the code will parse into a snippet:

This could simply mean that the tool needs an update to validate this mark up.

Once we had embedded the mark up on our case study site, this too was tested in the rich snippets testing tool with the exact same result.

No rich snippets produced after re-indexing / caching the page

We eagerly waited for the site to be cached in Google. After the page was reindexed, nothing. We waited several weeks only to find rich snippets were not being generated. Throughout the test we were extremely confident that the code was correctly implemented and matched the appropriate vocabulary at

Test limitations

It’s important to note the following considerations for our test:

  • The domain benefits greatly from its rich snippets. We were unwilling to roll out the change site wide unless we saw evidence that the markup would work in the testing tool or in the search results pages.
  • The test page itself used only (all Microformats were removed).
  • We assume that approval for Microformats also wins approval for

So is it worth it?

The short answer is we don’t know. With Google bringing updates for their own Microformats support [can you link to whatever this is] I’m left wondering how will fit in and what, if anything Google and the other search engines plan to do to encourage webmasters to implement the approach. It’s extremely difficult to find anyone who has had success with the markup, so it seems there’s a long way to go.

A slightly confusing example in the wild:

This website has integrated vocabulary but if you check in the Google testing tool for the above rich snippet, you will notice mark up for hreview-aggregate. If this code is removed from the page, no rich snippet is generated in the testing tool and I suspect this for Google as well.

I would love to see some examples of sites using returning a rich snippet in Google’s SERPs. If you’ve come across any, do leave a comment!


  1. Search engines do not use in the rankings. I think it was Matt Cutts who said, at SMX Advanced, they may incorporate it if it gets wide enough adoption. If you are suspicious of Google, what will do is help the search engines to scrape your data then present it on their pages so people do not need to visit your website. For example, info like hours of operation.
    If you are doing a major web overhaul it may make sense to future-grade your website with But do not spend a bunch of time and treasure on the new protocol alone.

    • Hey Tom! I was at SMX Advanced too and Duane Forrester of Bing said that was already worked into the algorithm and that early adapters were already benefiting from it. If Bing’s doing it, I think it’s fair to say that Google is most likely doing it as well. I would advise optimizing for!

  2. Tom’s saying schema doesn’t have an impact on the ranings. He’s right. We’re saying that we’ve not been able to prove Schema works in Google – and that their support via the testing tool needs some work. Sadly!

  3. I implemented snippets in my website and the reviews where showing up in google within a couple of days after I told google that I’m using them. So I guess they implemented it now…

    The site is (it’s dutch, bu you should see the results if you search google for “alterview”.

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