Rich Snippets increase your click-through rates!
Web experts are familiar with the term “Rich Snippets” yet the average website owner might not understand what the term means and why it is so important. The computer savants at Google came up with the label to refer to special search listings. Such listings are enhanced with an array of unique, eye-catching features that provide information pertaining to prices, reviews, pictures, apps, show times, associated events, recipes and beyond. Let's take a closer look at rich snippets.
Rich Snippets for Products
Rich snippets that provide information about a particular product such as a review function as an excellent way to boost traffic to one's website. They grab the attention of onlookers, motivating them to find out even more about the teased product. The result is a higher click-through rate which is the type of quality signal that Google loves.
Conduct an online search for any widely known company and you'll see Google knowledge graph results. The Knowledge Graph presents details to the right of the search results including things like the company's logo and contact information.
Structured Data Markup
Rich snippets and knowledge graphs are features available with the Structured Data Markup as formatted by Schema. The Schema markup boosts search engines' ability to fully understand your website's unique content. It also creates search result rich snippets, search boxes, breadcrumbs, live blogs and beyond. It even allows users to push data into Google's Maps, Knowledge Graph and Now Results.
Structured Data Markup also helps organize a website's content into what is known as "machine-readable data". Throughout history, computers have struggled to fully understand the language used by humans. Computers tend to be confused by our language's wide array of idiosyncrasies. Thankfully, Structured Data is here to help.
Google initially launched support for Structured Data Markups back in May 2009. The company has regularly updated its support for the formats as the technology has improved. In 2011, the major search engines (Bing, Yahoo!, Google etc) agreed to abide by a single standard of language known as Schema.
Schema.org is now the home base of all supported Structured Data code. Every website owner/operator should bookmark this helpful website. To gain a better understanding of Structured Data, one must understand how its terminology is utilized. It's quite complicated yet becomes more simple as time passes.
Structured code formats that markup observable data on a page include RDFa and Microdata. These are used to markup things like contact details. In general, code markup is best thought of as a code that wraps around existing text content that web surfers can see.
Microdata Markups for Small/Medium Sized Businesses
Google's guidelines strictly prohibit the hiding of text that a group desires to use for markup. The markup must be exactly the same as what appears on the web page. Those who are just getting their feet wet with marking up content will find that Schema supported formats like JSON-LD and Microdata are the best. Search engines are on board with these formats and Microdata now comprises part of the HTML 5 standard.
Rich Snippet Types
Let's delve into a few examples of the content that Google generates rich snippets for in terms of organic search results. Reviews are one of the most powerful types of rich snippets. Real, legitimate reviews or ratings must appear on the page in order for the 5 Star rating system to apply. These reviews can be embedded within a schema type like Product. The person is another rich snippet yet it is not officially listed as being one of Google's supported markup formats. Code for this rich snippet can be easily generated with the Microformats.org hCard Creator.
"LocalBusiness" is critically important for traditional local companies. Schema.org/LocalBusiness will send data directly to the aforementioned Knowledge Graph. Google is testing this markup with certain sites to create Knowledge Graph results. It should soon be available to all sites in the near future. Google also creates what is known as a “Video Thumbnail Rich Snippet” for certain video oriented websites like YouTube.
Any business will be able to take advantage of the Schema.org/SoftwareApplication markup as well as embedded reviews. You can also markup product pages and utilize rich snippets on particular product pages. Structured Data Markup can even make use of recipes to attract more clicks. Pages can be marked up with event times and other pertinent details.
Think of breadcrumbs as a type of diminutive trail that displays higher echelons of your website's navigation. Sometimes, Google generates breadcrumbs without requiring you to perform markup. It's still prudent to markup your breadcrumb content area to get rid of any possible confusion that might occur in the future. Breadcrumbs are also helpful in terms of assisting users with the navigation of your website.
Will Structured Data Markup Really Benefit Your Website?
As time progresses, more small websites have rich snippets popping up in search results. If you focus on selling your products/services to nearby residents/businesses, make use of Schema.org/Local Business. Every website can make use of Breadcrumb Markup if there is more than a single level within the site's structure. Those selling individual products will benefit from Schema.org/Product. Such businesses should also focus on providing as much information about the products as possible (manufacturer, color, model number etc.)
Structured Data Advice
Any marked up Structured Data should represent the primary content of the page. If you desire that event tags appear in the listings, an upcoming events page/annual schedule page will function better than a few event tags placed on the primary product page. Be sure to check to see if your marked up code actually passes the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. You can uncover errors once changes are spidered by checking the Google Search Console's Search Appearance > Structured Data Report for errors. Google also offers a Structured Data Markup Helper Tool to boot. It will help you in your quest to get the ball rolling on your HTML code markup efforts. The tool empowers users to tag certain elements of their web page. It also creates sample Microdata Markup and allows users to download altered HTML pages that can be directly applied to their website.
Improve Markup with Good Relations Vocabulary
In 2012, Schema.org integrated Good Relations e-commerce schemas to boost the available detail of products, services, businesses and beyond. Good Relations provides elaborate vocabulary terms to describe product details such as weight, condition, accepted payment types etc. Google only supports Good Relations RDFa tags for rich snippets like those outlined above. Though Good Relations will certainly enhance website content, it is important to point out that Good Relations schema tags can't be used for Google's Knowledge Base.
Additional Resources for Rich Snippets Education
You can learn more about Rich Snippets by visiting Schema.org, checking out Google's Structured Data Support Page and reading Google's Quality Guidelines for Structured Data. It is also a good idea to make use of Google's Structured Data Testing Tool, Bing's Markup Validator and Yandex's Structured Data Validator. The information presented in this article and the resources listed in this final paragraph will provide a solid Structured Data Markup foundation for your business. Take advantage of this detailed information and your business will undoubtedly reap the rewards.