Joomla version 3.3 has been released today. It claims to be the most stable Joomla release ever, and is packed with many improvements and new features. Especially for persons like me who focus on SEO and performance, this version has some particularly interesting features: Microdata implementation and performance improvements.
Some support for microdata (also called Rich snippets or Structured data) was already implemented in Joomla 3.2, but it was not actually available for normal users, more for developers that could use built-in features to pull microdata in their extensions.
With Joomla 3.3 however, microdata actually become available to normal users. What is also nice is that you do not have to do anything to enjoy them, the support is built into Joomla already. In the current implementation, there are no configuration options, they are just hard-coded.
Just look at the source of a Joomla site with the Protostart template, and you will see that your articles have been structured differently now, they have been wrapped in structured data according to the schema.org markup:
<div class="item-page" itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" itemscope="">
<div class="page-header">Article heading here....</div>
<dd class="createdby" itemtype="http://schema.org/Person" itemscope="" itemprop="author">Author here...</dd>
<div class="content_rating" itemtype="http://schema.org/AggregateRating" itemscope="" itemprop="aggregateRating">Rating here...</div>
<span itemprop="articleBody">Article body text here....</span>
As you can see, article, author data, rating and article body now have been enriched with schema.org data. If all is well, this will also refelct in your Google Webmaster Tools account, under Search Appearance >> Structured Data:
Not everything in Joomla is currently catered for, it is implemented in some of the most used elemenents. Another example is the Contacts Component, which is now wrapped as PostalAddress (make sure you use all fields correctly now, I previously often just placed some text in the address field because of the formatting, but this will now result in just text formatted as an address...).
One important part where microdata have not been applied yet is the Breadcrums modules. Probably styling modules with microdata will be implemented in later Joomla releases. In the mean time you could use a little breadcrum override to apply them already...
No microdata shown?
In case you do not see microdata, there is probably a template override that is displaying the previous code. Just check the html folder in your template's folder to see if there is an override for com_content / article. In one of my sites, I had an override there to convert H2 headings to H1. In order to have microdata, I had to remove the override and rebuild it from the core default.php file.
This might be an issue for some time with commercial templates. They often use complicated overrides that are hard for you to adjust, so you may need to push your template providers to adjut their templates.
The next Joomla releases will probably see further improvements and additions for microdata. There will probably be options to switch them on / off, or configure the exact schema.org type for an article. I played with one of the Microdata patches (3252), as explained in Michael Babker's blogpost, and it shows some nice options, like the switch in the Global Configuration SEO options:
Let's wait and see what the future brings us.
Performance should also be improved considerably in Joomla 3.3. According to this blogpost on the Joomla Community portal the Jrouter library (responsible for the way URLs are created) has been improved considerably, with tests showing an average of 10% performanc increase. Also Jrouter will probably see more improvements in the release to come.
Also this feature is something you do not have to do anything for, just enjoy improved performance!