Why You Can’t Ignore Rich Snippets
The term “rich snippets” doesn’t give much insight into what we’re actually discussing here. So let’s start with a quick example of rich snippets:
Snippets are those few lines of text that appear under some search results in Google.
As you well know, not every result is equipped with such things. Actually, you’re most likely to stumble upon them while searching for certain categories of search phrases and keywords.
Rich snippets are most popular for all kinds of product searches or business listings. For example, when you search for “buy 4 hour workweek” (depending on your location) among other results you’ll see something like this (red arrow indicates the snippet):
The snippet is just a small one, containing only the price, rating, and number of customer votes. Here’s the question, then: Can it bring any actual benefits?
What’s the Value of Rich Snippets
Enabling rich snippets for search results on your own sites has one major benefit. Using rich snippets is a great SEO practice.
On one side, Google says that using this won’t improve your rankings, and this is probably true, but SEO is not only about getting high rankings.
What’s even more important from an SEO point of view is to convert rankings into traffic. There’s no point in being number one if you can’t convince people to click through. Therefore, the other big factor in the SEO game is CTR (click through rate).
And this is where rich snippets come into play. Your listing on any given search engine results page is not a long one. You get only one title line, one address line, and two to three description lines, tops. This makes five lines of text in total.
Rich snippets give you an additional line, making your listing more visible, and more obvious at the same time.
If your site, for example, promotes any kind of product, and you’re trying to get it ranked for “buy product-name” or “product-name review” then having a rich snippet can give you some extra leverage.
If someone is searching for a good price to buy a given product you can display this price in your snippet. If you’re targeting the review traffic then you can show an overall ranking and number of reviews. Or you can simply show both … in the end, it’s your choice.
Whenever people see more relevant information they are more likely to click through, which means that you get more out of your Google rankings.
Implementing rich snippets into your site is not that difficult and we’ll discuss this in a moment, but first:
Who Can Get the Most Out of Rich Snippets?
Rich snippets were originally designed for all kinds of:
- review sites,
- profile sites (like someone’s professional profile, for example),
- product sites,
- business listings,
Why these? Probably because these kinds of products can be easily compared to each other (based on their characteristics and features), and also because the main keywords representing them are easy to identify.
So if your affiliate site promotes any of the aforementioned products we strongly recommend implementing rich snippets. This is something that can give you no harm, it only works in your favor.
Additionally, rich snippets also get displayed for pages from other categories if Google decides that it helps the user experience. A good example are restaurants presenting an example dish along with an average price range.
How to Implement Rich Snippets
Including rich snippets into your sites can be done in a couple of steps.
1. Pick a Markup Format
There are three formats available:
Google recommends Microdata as the preferable one so let’s stick to that.
Quoting Google: “The HTML5 microdata specification is a way to label content to describe a specific type of information – for example, reviews, person information, or events.”
In plain English, using one of these markups is just a way of speaking to Google about what should be included in your rich snippets.
2. Mark Up Your Content
Google actually provides some samples and templates on how to get this done properly for specific categories of content, so it’s best to point you towards those examples:
In essence, any content you’d like to show as a snippet needs to be formatted properly. You can do it pretty easily by going to your WordPress panel, and editing a given page or post.
You have to switch to the HTML editor, pick the part of your content that would look best as a snippet, and then include the important markup tags (as shown in the examples above).
Once you’re done you can check the result.
3. Testing Your Markup
Google Webmaster Tools provides a simple markup checker. Just go to: http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets and input the URL of the page or post you’ve marked up.
If everything’s fine then your snippet should get displayed next time a relevant search is done and Google decides that it improves the overall user experience.
This means one more thing. Your snippets won’t be displayed every time a search is done. Only when Google decides that it actually makes sense to show the snippet.
What’s your opinion on rich snippets? Do you see them as a valuable SEO technique?