“Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards” www.microformats.org
A Microformat is a common element used in every day websites that has been given a format to improve the understanding of the content crawled by search engines, applications & devices. Microformats are visable to humans ‘displayed on page’ and in standard form can look very bland, but can be styled using CSS.
The mark-up of web pages can vary drastically across the web, a passionate coder would write what we call ‘posh html’ or better known as ‘semantic code’ in a simple text editor to write the core code for their website, by doing this the page is far more optimized for search engines allowing the content to be communicated in an efficient manner.
Semantic html is an essential requirement for a serious developer, which why the use of microformats should be used where possible so that cross optimization runs cross platform improving SEO.
hCards are essential for seo when optimising for Local Search. Mobile phones and other devices can also identify this information to use in various ways, such as adding to address book or sending details.