Rich Snippets explained and why you should be implementing in your website.
This article appeared in the iGB Affiliate Magazine for the London Affiliate Conference.
This article is written by John Wright
(Microdata, RDFa, etc...) are hot topics right now as they are used to enhance your listings in search engines. To explain it simpler terms, you know when you search for something in google and you see some listings showing some images, ratings or an author name and picture? Well that is what this is about. This guide is meant to get you up to speed and explain some of the terms used surrounding Rich Snippets and give an idea of how it works and where you can integrate into your websites.
Rich snippets have been around for well over a year however many webmasters are very slow to integrate this including myself. The main reason for this is that some people are lazy, some don’t know the true value of what this can do for your site and lastly sometimes it can be difficult getting this to work on your site. That is there doesn’t appear to be one single source for where to go to get all of your answers and if anything plenty of terrible plugins. If your markup code isn’t working, google isn’t going to be there to help you fix it so you are left with asking questions in forums or finding an expert.
Why does it matter?
It matters for many reasons but the two answers that any webmaster simply needs to hear is the potential to increase your rankings in a search engine as well as increase the conversion / click-through rate.
Can Rich Snippets increase my search engine rankings?
Now when I say it has the potential to increase your rankings in the search engines this is strictly my opinion on the matter as google supposedly has stated that implementing Rich Snippets won’t affect your search engine rankings. Right now it seems to be true but in the future this could change. My opinion on why this would change would be for google to reward sites that include them, that is they go above and beyond other sites to help their users, google will in time have more feedback about the results of sending traffic to sites with and without rich snippets. If they find that bounce rates are lower with these included then why wouldn’t they reward sites that include rich snippets. Also when it comes to authorship, this is another possibility of google rewarding sites that list an author. My opinion on this has to do with authors putting their name on the line for what they write. There are many content spinners out there or people that simply rewrite content and for those that blatantly copy it, they are most likely not willing to put in an author and even if they did they would probably want it to be a fictitious author.
Now one thing that does appear to be a fact is that bounce rate will have an affect on your search rankings. Now if you look at many of the articles on SEO topics in google and see an author name and picture, these articles are probably of a higher quality. Actually just pick any topic and do a search and just give your own assessment of the quality of the articles that appear whether they contain an author or an image or not. Now if the articles are of higher quality then they will have a lower bounce rate, which in turn affects their rankings in a positively way. So adding rich snippets shouldn’t affect the quality of your article in theory but there are many webmasters testing and claiming that adding rich snippets does decrease your bounce rate and if this is true then …
Increased click through rates!
There is overwhelming evidence that rich snippets will increase your click through rates and common sense tells us that this has to be true. If you just look at any examples the evidence is right in front of your face. Take a look at this example for ‘Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe’. The results that include the 2 pictures will probably get more clicks aside from the fact that they are #1 and #2 in the rankings over the 3rd listing which has no image. When you implement rich snippets, your listing takes up more vertical space in the listing. On top of that, the images are clickable and take you to the article. So users have more than just a single link to click on. Any chance of having your article stand out amongst the rest should give you an advantage of increasing your click through rate and this will come at the expense of sites that don’t integrate rich snippets.
Who is using Rich Snippets?
Some of the top webmasters are already using this in their site. The most common one used is the rating system, like 5 stars for example. Just do a search for say ‘Euro Partners Review’ and you will see a few sites have included a star rating. Some affiliates even have their author data included listing their name, google+ profile account and picture.
Even VegasPartnerLounge are quick to get in their foot in the door. Do a search for online casino and you’ll see they have google+ profiles showing their human brand ambassadors. This adds a human element to casinos. You can see the example on maplecasino.ca for example, look at the footer and you’ll see a google+ profile icon for their brand ambassador Charlotte Jackson. Now Charlotte could be a fictitious person and profile but she seems real and from Toronto (call me maybe).
Rich Snippets Examples and Schema
There are many ways of incorporate rich snippets into your site and you’ll have to decide which page deserves a certain type of markup. For a full list of the examples available you can see more at Schema.org here:
The most common examples:
- Star Rating
- Recipe Data
- Author Name & Picture
- Product Picture
More reading materials on Rich Snippets
- Informative but confusing for newbies
- ‘Some’ info from Google.
- Test your pages
Tools to inspect Rich Snippets on websites
The amount of coding work needed on your pages to add in rich snippets is fairly minimal but not all sites appear to be doing it the same way so if you are still learning about it or want to spy on how your competition does it, you can get some Google Chrome Extensions that will make the job easier if you are not comfortable using the ‘view source’ and finding the code. To be honest these plugins make it a lot easier to find what you are looking for. You have many Chrome extensions you can get but they more or less do the same thing so if you need just one I recommend Microdata.reveal. Or you can just go to the extensions page and search for ‘microdata’ or ‘rich snippets’ and you will get similar tools.
[If you want to include in the article or at least get screenshots]
Have a question about Rich Snippets?
You can email John Wright for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org