What can Rich Snippets do for you?

The days of boring, plain-text search results are over.  Make way for the ‘rich snippet’, a powerful way of enhancing search results that can increase the number of visits to your website by up to 30%!  If you aren’t yet using them here’s how to get started.

What are Rich Snippets?

Rich snippets are a type of on page “markup” that can turn your search engine listing into an all-singing, all-dancing advertisement for your website.

You add small snippets of HTML code to your page.  They help Google extract information that it displays in its organic search results. Here’s an example from Search Engine Journal.  The picture of Adam Thompson appears on the left – attracting attention to the listing – because the page includes rich snippets:

Lots of people are put off by rich snippets.  But they’re quite easy to implement.  By adding a few extra lines of HTML code you’re giving more information for the search engines to retrieve for relevant search queries.

What can you do with Rich Snippets?

It’s common to see enhanced paid search results.  Advertisers are keen to make their listings stand out; see the paid ad below for a search on “Buy used Suzuki Jimnys”:

This ad makes use of the gold star scoring system. The ad below is an organic listing returned for the same query:

It’s not nearly as exciting, is it?  But now you can improve the display of your organic listings by marking-up relevant data to let people find the content they want before they click through to the web page.  Here’s an example of an enhanced listing for a search on ‘healthy chocolate pudding’ (is there such a thing?):

The photo, the rating and even the number of calories appear because the page includes rich snippets.  And, by making your listing more appealing, you can take traffic from your competitors, even if you’re not ranking in first place.

What types of Rich Snippets are there?

You can mark up almost anything from a photo, to ratings and reviews, event listings, author information and much more. Rich snippets are a great way to advertise products, tickets on sale, or to promote a restaurant or hotel that has great reviews, so let’s look at some examples.

Reviews:

Imagine I am looking to book my summer holiday and have decided upon Jersey.  I search for “Hotels in Jersey”

As you can see from this listing, the rich snippet has been marked-up to include a gold star rating, customer reviews, and a price range calculator. I’m being a bit optimistic with a 5* hotel , better check with the boss first.  But I wouldn’t want to settle for the hotel below based on its listing…

It’s not nearly as engaging, or informative.  I’m more inclined to click on the former listing.

Event snippets:

I also plan to take myself off to London tonight to see some live music.  I type in a simple search for “London gigs May”…

This rich snippet contains dates and locations of bands playing on the day I performed the search.

This search result is compiled from the venue’s Google+ Local Page, plus the rich snippet data about upcoming events.

Here’s another listing for the same search.  Again, it gives me less information so I’m less likely to click on it.

This result has told me little about the page’s likely content.

Recipe snippets:

Tonight, I’d like to make a wholesome vegetarian meal, so I’ll type in “Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie”.  Here is one of the results I got back:

This recipe has been marked-up with an enticing picture, a taste rating as well as useful information like cooking time allowance and a calorie count – not that I’m dieting.  Below is a similar related listing:

Video snippets:

I’ve decided that I might start knitting this evening (once I’ve finished my traditional (meat-free) dinner).  First, I’ll need to refresh my knitting skills.  So I search for an instructional video and here are two of the results I see:

Giving credit where credit’s due, the Daily Mail knows how to structure data!

The top result instantly tells me there will be video guidance, which is a lot easier to follow when grappling with large knitting needles.

How are rich snippets set up?

If you want your listings to look like the good examples above, you’re going to need to add additional data tags to your HTML code. There are three types of markup that you can use on your site including;

  • microdata
  • microformats
  • and RDFa.

Currently, you can use any of these, but Schema.org – the classification of the markup language-recommends that you use Microdata since it has the support of Google, Microsoft (Bing) and Yahoo.  Avoid mixing formats together as this can cause confusion:

This image shows the microdata language used, which is classified by the schema vocabulary.

You can check out the schema.org site for good examples and direction on how to implement it in your code.  Google also provides some good documentation and tools to use to help implement the various markup codes in its Webmaster Tools Help pages.

Test your rich snippet

Make sure you test your efforts!

Google Webmaster Tools has a useful feature that lets you test your rich snippet.  Click here to use their Structured Data Testing Tool.  This will confirm whether or not Google can read your markup data and whether your rich snippets are appearing in their search results.

Enter the web page URL, and hit the “preview” button!

If you would like some help to make your organic listings more prominent, please get in touch.

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Karen King
I have been working in website promotion for the last 15 years and am now a Website Marketer at web2market. I am a qualified Google Adwords professional and can help advise on getting the most out of your digital campaigns. My experience includes both sponsored and unsponsored website marketing, Google Maps and link building.