Rich Snippets 101
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.
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:
- Businesses and organizations
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.