An introduction to Rich Snippets

When you search for something on the internet, the search engine results page (or SERP) typically displays answers to your query, but with limited information.  You’ll see the URL of the results, of course, along with a title tag, and a short meta description.  Generally, that’s enough information to help you decide which potential resource is the right match for your question.

Then along came rich snippets.  Pulled from the Structured Markup in your web page’s HTML, this information expands upon the basic details supplied in the typical search engine results.

But what type of information is included in rich snippets, and why should you consider including them in your site?  Let’s take a look in more detail.

What Is a Rich Snippet?

Deep within your website’s existing HTML coding is all of the information that helps search engines know when to include your site in a SERP.  Known as “structured data markup”, this information is added by programmers specifically so a search engine can identify the content on your site.


rich snippets - how they show up in the search results

Rich snippets take that concept to the next level by pulling even more details from the structured data.  This can take the form of additional details, reviews, or pictures, and can appear on both a desktop or a mobile search.  

Details can include all sorts of relevant information (as you’ll see shortly).  Reviews will show a rating out of five stars, and can include a sample of a single review or the overall reviews from all users.  And pictures, of course, will display an image from the section of the site relevant to the search.

At this time, only certain searches will bring up this additional data:

People


example of rich snippets for people

When searching for well-known individuals or celebrities, the search results from a site that enables rich snippets will display that person’s name, the URL to the related site, and a meta description including your search terms, as well as further details, such as their title or role, professional qualifications, contact details, or what they’re best known for.

Recipes


an example for recipes

Rich snippets for recipes can reveal all sorts of helpful data, such as how long it takes to prepare or cook the dish, ingredients, serving size, nutritional information, and images of the finished product.

Music


example of rich snippet for a song

If you search for certain artists, albums, or songs, rich snippets will provide extra information such as release date, track length, producer, links to videos or previews, and links to purchasing the music.

Products


an example of rich snippets applied to a products search

When searching for a specific product, rich snippets can add details to specific product search results, such as price in local currence, brand, descriptions, ISBN or SKU, and availability.  If a variety of a particular product is available from a seller, the low-to-high price range might be displayed as well.  Images are also displayed for products.

Organizations/Businesses


how a business can add these tags to improve their presence

Rich snippets for organizations and businesses can include key identifiers beyond the name of the group, like logo, address, direct contact details, and geolocation.

Video


the information given by video rich snippets

Rich snippets can provide the details included in a video, letting searchers know what’s in the video, who’s in it, and what type of content is included.  Search engines don’t actually have the ability to screen videos, so providing this information in markup makes these facts available to searchers.

Events


some examples for events search results

For future events only, rich snippet details can include event dates and times, location, how long the event lasts, and even links to purchase tickets.

What Can Rich Snippets Do for My Business?

The most obvious benefit of rich snippets is to searchers, who will receive a great deal of information at a single glance.  Being able to gain images, reviews, and extra details without having to search extensively can be extremely helpful for anyone who is simply trying to get information as quickly as possible.

There are benefits to business owners, as well.  As pointed out, searchers will be drawn to results that provide a greater range of information, have photos, or display positive ratings.

Additionally, search results with rich snippets tend to be more relevant to the original search intention than those without.

An example

Let’s say a searcher has a vague desire to learn about cats.  By pulling details from the structured data, Google could return a link to a local cat rescue, and with rich snippets embedded, that might include the address, logo, hours, and phone number to that rescue.  This added level of information could turn a simple search into a new best friend!

While that might be an ideal scenario, it is easy to see how the additional information provided increases attention to your page’s entry on the SERP. 

This increased attention will result in a higher organic click through rate.  After all, people are more willing to follow the path they notice first.  Even better, this increased click through rate will increase your site ranking.

How Do Rich Snippets Work?

As mentioned, the structured data is included in the HTML code of your site.  If that sentence causes your eyes to water and your stomach to turn, you might want to contact your web developer or programmer to discuss your options.

If you are somewhat familiar with coding, or comfortable with technical directions, there are options to help you out.  For those who have WordPress-based sites, there are several plugins that can help you add this markup.  Schema.org includes step-by-step instructions to help you add structured data markup, as well.  Even Google provides users with detailed directions through the process.

Once you add rich snippets to your site, don’t expect your click through rate to immediately skyrocket.  Bear in mind that Google doesn’t even start to crawl your new contact until 10-14 days after publication.

They can also come and go, depending on the level of information added to your markup.  It seems Google “auditions” which snippets it displays.  However, intrepid marketers note that, after a few months, all of the rich snippets will be applied to search results for your site, though Google will continue to analyze your markup for any potential errors.

Final thoughts

Rich snippets may require a bit of work on your part, or that of your developer, but the payout can be worth it.  Often, providing searchers with a greater level of information makes them more likely to click on your link.

Once these folks are on your site, your incredible content, irresistible push pages, amazing product, and overall incomparable value will clearly draw them into the sales funnel, giving you a major boost in the conversion process.

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[…] No matter how you slice it, the featured snippet box remains the most coveted Google search position for a company to achieve. The power of this position will only continue to increase as technology moves towards voice search. Find out more about snippets. […]

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