Rich Snippets 101

Rich Snippets 101

Harness a world of information with Structured Data and Rich Snippets | Blueprint

Harness a world of information with Structured Data and Rich Snippets

As a business owner or a marketer, you may have heard of “Structured Data” or “Rich Snippets”,
but aren’t sure what they are, let alone what they can do for your business.

We’ll go over that, plus explain why they matter and how you can implement them to get more traffic to your site.

What is Structured Data?

If you’ve done an online search for a recipe in the past couple of years, in your search results you will have noticed star ratings, numbers of reviews and even cooking times pop up.

This is all done through the proper use of structured data.

Structured data is a form of contextual enhancement that adds to your content marketing. Look at the example below, (it’s a Rich Snippet) and note that the information presented in the search engine result is also contained on the page itself. That page data is used to better inform your consumers about what is on your site – a kind of data driven preview.

There are multiple forms of structured data – RDFa and JSON to name a couple. But the one Google and I recommend is Rich Snippets. It’s easier to implement and takes the least amount of programming knowledge of the structured data options.

Why Use Rich Snippets?

Rich snippets, when used effectively, increase the click-through rate for your site in search engine results. Having the most pertinent and appropriate information tied to your content within the search engine result enables consumers to understand your brand and your relevance to their search immediately, before they even enter your page.

How Rich Snippets Appear In Organic Search Listings | Blueprint

For example, if your business is a restaurant that offers takeout, you can place Rich Snippet markup around the link to your menu, offering a more immediate solution to a hungry consumer. Because not only will it promote click-through, it will also encourage more conversions.

Now consumers can immediately see your phone number and call you without ever landing on your site. Which means if you’re not using Rich Snippets, you’re probably losing customers to the competition who are.

How Can I Use Rich Snippets?

Currently, both Google and Bing (who together control roughly 85% of online search) only accept Rich Snippets surrounding the following entities:

  • Reviews
  • People
  • Products
  • Businesses and organizations
  • Recipes
  • Events
  • Music

This may seem like a short list, but it does cover the majority of businesses with an online presence.

As long as your business falls into one of the above entities, you can highlight a myriad of traits about your business, such as phone number, services you provide and your hours.
If you’re trying to promote an event, you can support the date, time, ticket prices and venue with Rich Snippets – making that information available at a glance to your consumers during an online search.

Rich Snippets Best Practices

What Is Your Page Goal?

When trying to decide what kind of information to support with Rich Snippets, first ask what is the main goal of that page, then ask what would be the information that people are looking for most?

For example, if your business is a national online florist, you may want to focus on customer review ratings and sale prices, not hours or location.

Keep in mind that Google and Bing do not always pick the Rich Snippets traits and properties that you would like them to. In my experience the information that I add in Rich Snippets is generally in line with what the search engines choose to show, but this is not true in every case. As we cannot dictate what they decide, it’s best to create Rich Snippets around your relevant content to promote top click-through rates.

Using Content that Already Exists On Your Site

For Rich Snippets, it is essential that you add the markup to content that already exists on your page. When Rich Snippets were first introduced, some agencies would create Rich Snippets that were not visible to the consumer.

For example, they would add a location, without the address being visible to normal users by putting white text on a white background. Because of black hat tactics like this, search engines are now trained to see such tomfoolery and will penalize a site for the practice.

Always Test Your Snippets

With Rich Snippets, Google also gives marketers an invaluable tool for testing if the code on your site is set up correctly. In Google Webmaster Tools, you can use the Structured Data Testing Tool to ensure that your content is being conveyed appropriately. The tool will also give you a small preview of how your search engine result may appear, but is not 100% accurate.

Rich Snippets and You

When looking at your structured data strategy, keep the above tips in mind to make sure you’re not only leveraging them fully, but also staying in line with the rules of Google and other search engines.

By: Samantha Torres
  • Chuniq Inpower

    Nice! Awesome read on rich snippets and how to use them. I especially agree with using rich snippets for music, events and products as for those categories, competition for users and purchases is very high and any supplemental information is helpful to deciding on if that site is what they are searching for. Time is critical, so provide as much detail as possible to capture new audiences or returning customers with rich snippets.

    Also, very valuable link to Google’s test tool! Great, informative read Samantha!

  • Joshua Bains

    Everyone has been using a web of structured data for quite some time now, especially since the release of Google’s Hummingbird. But I think many business owners are unaware of its reality, let alone potential.

    Reality: Right now everyone who owns a website should be writing and creating multimedia content targeted tightly towards long tail keywords.

    Potential: Data gobbling machines will take over the world.

    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/nov/29/artificial-intelligence-how-clever-do-want-machines-to-be

  • It’s great to finally have a comprehensive post on Rich Snippets and Structured Data, specifically the approach of how this will increase the clickthrough rate for your site with search results. This is so important for restaurants and other local businesses

    Great article Sam!

  • John

    I thought it was interesting you mentioned businesses using rich snippets could effectively get business without people ever visiting their site. Seems like there’s a lot of implication for this kind of content!

    • Great point John. People skim websites the same way how educators teach speed reading. A rich snippet could be the piece of information that leads a user to your website.

  • Naima

    Rich snippets add more information about a website in addition to the meta description displayed in search results. This is the best way of capturing new customers and provide information that people may be looking for even before visiting the website. Rich snippets are often overlooked by most business owners simply because of lack of information.

    Great article Sam! This is the best explanation of rich snippets I’ve seen.

  • Rebekah Faucette

    Rich snippets are also an excellent way to prevent unnecessary steps during the path of conversion. The more hoops a potential customer has to jump through to purchasing a product, the less likely he or she is to actually buy it. For example, if the user is looking up the Atlanta Falcons, rich snippets can ensure that a link to purchase tickets to the next game can be seen directly from the search page rather than forcing a customer to dig through web pages to find the link. This quick availability will entice more purchases, filling more seats and increasing awareness for our hometown team.

    Great article Sam and I look forward to reading more on this topic from you!

  • Caroline Ripa

    As someone who had no idea what Rich Snippets was, this article was very informative! This was a great article and explains it very well! As a consumer, I always click on the links that have more information or high ratings/reviews. All businesses should try and implement this in their website!

  • Alfredo J. Rodriguez

    This is a fantastic primer into Rich Snippets on the part of Sam. Thanks for you article!

    What excites me about Rich Snippets is the future. While it already delivers prime information for a searcher, Rich Snippets (it sounds like a fancy English gentleman, no?) could evolve into a rotating calendar board, or transmit wait times for an E.R. Rich Snippets could save lives some day!

    Amazing.