- Rich Snippets: What They Are and How to Use Them
Rich Snippets: What They Are and How to Use Them
Remember the days when ranking high on search engine response pages was enough to get views on your website? Well, those days are long gone.
These days, the average person has barely over an 8-second attention span. People aren’t willing to go through pages and pages of results to get what they’re looking for anymore. Often they won’t even scroll to the end of the first results page!
This means that you need your webpage to be in the first few options of any search engine results page. If it’s not, you risk your target market never seeing you at all.
But it’s also not enough to make sure your webpage on top. In today’s market, you need to make the user feel confident that your page is relevant to their search as well. Rich Snippets help them in making that decision.
What Exactly are Rich Snippets?
Rich Snippets are the structured data markup that operators can add to their HTML. HTML, or Hypertext Markup Language, is the standardized system used when creating pages on the world wide web. By including Rich Snippets in your HTML, search engines can better understand what information your web page contains.
To more completely understand what a Rich Snippet is, first we have to understand the basics of a snippet.
Looking at any search results on Google, a snippet is a section of information after the blue title and green URL. It gives the user an overview of what your webpage offers.
A rich snippet is an extra piece of information about your web pages, such as a review or rating. It’s more specific and gives the user a better idea of what they’re getting into when they click on your result. It also helps the search engine spiders to better understand what your webpage is all about so they can create more accurate listings.
A search engine user can find this information after the title and URL but before the small block of text.
Major search engines now use this information to give the user better search results. You can use Rich Snippets to tell the searcher if the result is a person, a product, a place, a recipe, or something else.
Why Use Them?
There are plenty of good reasons to use Rich Snippets. Not least of all is that they stand out and they look nice. A photo next to a video result or a recipe can provide the user with a sense of trust in what they’re getting.
Does the recipe result they found look like the dessert they want to make? Does the photo next to the musician look like the guy they saw in concert last Friday?
Knowing that your result has the most information for the user gives you, and them, confidence in your result listing.
Rich Snippets can also give the user more information about specific products. Do other people like the product they’re searching for? Is this local business close enough to get to before closing time?
Providing ample, important information is a surefire way to gain viewership for your webpage. Remember, people have goldfish sized attention spans! You want to appeal to them in less than 9 seconds.
Web pages with Rich Snippets have a higher click-through rate. A higher click-through rate leads to more traffic. The searcher feels more confident in their decision to select that result over the less informative snippets available to them.
And, as we all know, more people clicking on your result means the more positively search engines will rank your webpage! While this may not be the most important part of search engine optimization anymore, it’s still up there.
Google, Bing, and Yahoo! now work together to support schemas across all their networks. Schema.org’s shared vocabulary allows webmasters to better markup their pages, optimizing them in all major search engines. All the major search engines working together makes your job exponentially easier.
When to Use Rich Snippets
There are many practical ways to use rich data to enhance your SEO. I’ll list a variety of them here.
Reviews and Ratings
Reviews are a part of most rich snippets we’ll talk about today. That’s because they’re such an important tool searchers use to make their decisions.
72% of young customers research their options before making any decision in store. This means that your product, business, software, or recipe needs reviews to make it stand out from the others.
When was the last time you listened to a podcast, bought something off of an online vendor, or downloaded an app and you weren’t prompted to leave a review? This is because reviews are invaluable tools for getting more viewership, and more viewership means more relevancy.
Marking up your page with AggregateRating is all you need to do to get started. As long you complete the AggregateRating the right way, your Rich Snippet should update as reviews come in.
Are you looking to display a biography? Perhaps you want to show a list of a person’s accomplishments. Quotes and credits also qualify for good, rich information to include.
This information isn’t limited to celebrity. Authors and creators are excellent candidates for this tool. Having a picture along with extra info creates trust between the person and the user, and provides a sense of authority.
Allowing the search engine user to have access to your address or phone number immediately provides an added opportunity for making a connection.
Products and Software
Adding the metadata for your products and software is another great use of Rich Snippets. You can include the most useful information about your product.
Ratings aren’t the only useful thing here. You can also add product specifications, availability, and cost. The SKU, the high price, and the low price are also wonderful tools to place in your customer’s hands.
After all, the more tools you give them allows them to select your listing as the best one for them.
Using Rich Snippets for software is another viable option. Including all the important information, like the developer and reviews, about your software is key.
However, it isn’t the only key. Getting there first is important as well. Ensuring that your listing is the one with a picture in the search result will give you an advantage over your competitors.
Businesses & Organizations
Say a person searches for ‘Chinese food.’ Their results are likely to be local businesses that are close to them. It can include hours, distance from them, and reviews.
Providing this data can help search engines better understand what your business or organization is all about. Add a map, reviews, and other images to provide both search engines and their users with relevant information.
Local businesses can benefit from the use of Rich Snippets. Contact information and operating hours are easy to find, but on top of that, a popularity rating and information help the searcher make the informed decision to visit your page.
Using Rich Snippets for recipes is especially helpful. Include preparation time, cook time, nutritional information, and serving size to best optimize your structured data to work for you.
At this point, it should come as no surprise, but the addition of a photo helps drastically improve your click-through rates. If you include a featured photo in your recipe post, it tells the search engine which photo to use for the Rich Snippet!
For events, add specific information about your events such as the time, date, or any key presenters. This can also be things like your intended audience or age restrictions.
Letting the search engine know who the coordinator of the event is can also help your page show up in more search results, and could draw the user’s eye in your favor.
Music popularity and reviews aren’t the only things that show up for music results. It can also include the name and length of the song and possibly a link back to the specific song page on the title.
In a world of youtube, it’s near impossible to get a search result on the first page for your video content. One way to navigate around this is to use the platform itself. YouTube is a valuable tool in your SEO workbench.
How to Add Rich Snippets to your Content
To get these enhanced results, you need to add structured data to your site. You can find the vocabulary for this data at a place called schema.org.
You can add this to your page in different ways. The supported platforms are microdata, microformats, RDFa, and Google’s favorite, JSON-LD.
Your structured data shouldn’t be on every content property. Having more marked up does help search engines present better results, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
Only mark visible content. It’s all Google will show, anyway.
Make sure that your code is complete. The more detailed the code, the more likely Google is to recognize and use your material.
Don’t forget Google’s request form. This lets them know what tags you’ve added to your website.
What Happens When You Add Rich Snippets?
After you add rich snippets to your site, Google will need 10 to 14 days to analyze your markup. If everything is kosher, Google will show Rich Snippets for some of your pages.
But, after about 5 days, they’ll disappear. A few days later, some will come back. The pages that appear with Rich Snippets might be the same as before, though they could also be different ones.
You will need to wait a while for Google to repeat this process a few times.
After around 8 weeks, you’ll gain semi-permanent status, assuming the analysis didn’t discover any issues with your markup.
It’s important that you don’t mess with your data unless you’re fixing an error. This can result in further delays, Google analytics can already feel daunting enough.
When using Rich Snippets, it’s important that you make sure you use them appropriately. Google can and does penalize sites that use Rich Snippets inappropriately. Irrelevant or misleading markups violate Google’s guidelines.
It is very important not to markup your service reviews as product reviews. This is misleading.
Also, don’t mark up your product review on your category pages. Keep product review snippets on the specific product pages only.
Basically, as long as you avoid misleading your customer, Google shouldn’t have a problem.
Do not use the same markups on all your website’s pages. This alerts Google because it looks like spam. When Google removes your snippets, it becomes difficult to get them cleared again in the future.
This short time gain is certainly not worth the longtime loss that you’ll experience, so avoid it! It’s just not worth the risk.
As long as you’re sure you’re using an ethical, common sense approach, you should have no issue passing Google’s guidelines.
The examples I provided here with different structured data to use are only a fraction of the options available for use here. Check out Schema.org for all of the vocabularies. It’s a lot!
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