What Are Rich Snippets?

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Rich Snippets are pieces of information about a web page — text, images, tables, graphs, video, etc. — that appear in Google SERPs (search engine results pages). 

Rich Snippets are a type of structured data — that is, HTML data created by following a standard format that Google’s crawlers can quickly identify and interpret.

From an SEO standpoint, Rich Snippets are sometimes extremely effective in improving the number of click-throughs a web page receives when it appears in Google SERPs. Rich Snippets give a link greater prominence in the SERP, and make the links themselves look more visually appealing.

Types of Rich Snippets

Google offers an online gallery of options for creating structured data. Some of these options that function as Rich Snippets include: 

  • Educational courses
  • Critic reviews
  • Data sets
  • Events
  • Job postings
  • Local business
  • Product
  • Q&A pages
  • Recipes
  • Review snippets
  • Video information

Within each category of structured data are guidelines for what types of content are permissible and how to make sure the coding is written properly.

Google also has published guidelines for using structured data. Important items to remember:

  • Rich Snippet information must be up to date and original.
  • The content in the snippet should also be visible on the web page itself.
  • Never make snippets that are not relevant to the primary purpose of the web page.
  • Always attribute snippets properly — for example, attribute reviews to the reviewer.

Rich Snippets and SEO

Rich Snippets look cool — there is no question they give your links a big “wow” factor in the SERPs. It might be tempting to think that snippets should be created for every page of the website, or at least for every SEO target page of the website.

Keep in mind, however, that creating and updating Rich Snippets involves coding, testing, monitoring, and in many cases, the creation of images, video, tables and other relatively complex types of information. This will come at a cost.

It’s also important to note that Google does not guarantee that rich snippets will appear in its search. If executed properly, the snippets are likely to appear, but you can’t count on snippets as a magic bullet to turn a sluggish SEO campaign into a winner. On the other hand, you also need to exercise some patience with snippets, as they may not appear immediately — so don’t rush to judgment!

That said, Rich Snippets have tremendous conversion potential, especially for local businesses, review websites and educational resources organizations, to name a few.

Beyond that, snippets can be extremely valuable for getting conversions on non-SEO target pages of the website. A good example are job opening pages. Adding Rich Snippets to those pages might make the difference between getting the ideal candidate and settling for a less-than-perfect fit. And, there could be some secondary SEO value to optimizing job listing pages with snippets, in terms of greater organic site traffic and referrals.

Another way snippets can help SEO is with video content on the website. It’s possible to optimize video for Google crawlers, enabling Google to index and rank your video content. But adding Rich Snippets makes your video even more prominent and even more likely to get click-throughs. Again, some businesses lend themselves to video search more than others. For instance, manufacturers of complex industrial equipment rely on videos to demonstrate their machinery to customers halfway across the globe. Any industrial buyer looking for such equipment would be interested in studying a video — it’s this type of business that should pull all the stops, including the use of snippets, to optimize its video content. Likewise, consumer products that are sold best through visualization can see substantial gains in traffic and online orders by adding video content to its product pages and then creating snippets.

Testing Snippets

Like most aspects of SEO, testing is the smartest way to proceed with Rich Snippets. Based on common sense, a review of the competition and your current ranking positions, develop a set of site pages on which to test snippets — three to six months is probably a good test period.

Do the test pages outperform similar pages? Do you see a measurable increase in sales leads or online orders for the product(s) featured on your test pages? Of course, in order to answer those questions, you’ll need to have the proper phone and form tracking on your website; otherwise, you’ll just be guessing.

This brings us to a final point about Rich Snippets and SEO: Don’t rush into this until you have a solid overall foundation for your SEO efforts. Beyond phone and form tracking, that foundation includes a mobile-friendly site, properly written Title tags, and of course, the right combination of target keywords. Once everything is in place, Rich Snippets are an excellent addition to the SEO campaign.

To discuss how to improve your website rankings in more detail, contact us now or call 855-883-0011.

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