The days of boring, plain text organic search results are over. Make way for the ‘rich snippet’, a powerful way of enhancing search results that can increase the number of visits to your website by up to 30%! If you aren’t yet using them, Receptional can help mark up your site. Just get in touch using the form at the bottom of the page. Meanwhile, here’s how to get started.

What are rich snippets?

Rich snippets are a type of on page markup that can turn your search engine listing into an all-singing, all-dancing advertisement for your website.

You add small snippets of code to your page. They help Google extract information that it displays in its organic search results. Here’s an example from Search Engine Journal. The picture of Adam Thompson appears on the left – attracting attention to the listing – because the page includes rich snippets:

Lots of people are put off by rich snippets. But they’re actually easy to implement. By adding a few extra lines of HTML code you’re giving more information to search engines to retrieve for relevant search queries.

What can you do with rich snippets?

It’s common to see enhanced paid search results. Advertisers are keen to make their listings stand out; see the paid ad below for a search on “Buy used Suzuki Jimnys”:

This ad makes use of the gold star scoring system. The ad below is an organic listing returned for the same query:

It’s not nearly as exciting, is it? But now you can improve the display of your organic listings by marking-up relevant data to let people find the content they want before they click through to the web page. Here’s an example of an enhanced listing for a search on ‘healthy chocolate pudding’ (yeah right):

The photo, the rating and even the number of calories appear because the page includes rich snippets. And, by making your listing more appealing, you can take traffic from your competitors, even if you’re not ranking in first place.

What types of rich snippets are there?

You can mark up almost anything from a photo, to ratings and reviews, event listings, author information and much more. Rich snippets are a great way to advertise products, tickets on sale, or to promote a restaurant or hotel that has great reviews, so let’s look at some examples, starting with ‘authorship markup’.

Authorship Markup

If you’re a blogger this is one of the most important rich snippets. It’s a method for Google to display authorship over the content that you create.

For example if you type in “Zoe Lee Skelton” into Google, this result appears:

That’s me by the way – in the tiny thumbnail. And then if I type in a search for my poor neglected art collective’s blog, I get this result

The top result is more engaging, right? Well, just by setting up what’s called a rel=authorship snippet, you’re Google ID photo will sit alongside any listings of your content making it instantly stand out.

Implementing authorship markup correctly typically increases click through rates to your site, visibility and pageviews, which helps establish you as an authority in your subject. And it’s a credibility signal to visitors looking to recruit your skills or guest post on your blog.

Here’s how to claim your Authorship :

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to have a Google Plus profile set up.

Step 1: Edit your Contributor to section on your Google+ profile. Click “Add a custom link” and enter the URL for your website:

Step 2: Add a link to your Google+ profile from your webpage. You’ll need to add the code below into the <head> section of your site:

<link rel=”author” href=”[profile_url]“>

You need to replace [profile_url] with your Google+ profile URL,
so the link would look like this:

<link rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/ 110172033011111859408″>

(That’s a link to my Google+ by the way. Feel free to add me.

And it’s as easy as that.

But make sure you test it using Google’s structured Data Testing Tool:

Enter your URL , and hit the “preview” button , and you should see your mug shot if you’ve set it up correctly!

Reviews:

I’m looking to book my summer holiday, but lacking a passport I’m limited as to where I can go.

My boyfriend and I have settled on Jersey; I’ll need to board a plane to get there so at least it will feel like a proper holiday. I search for “Hotels in Jersey”

As you can see from this listing, the rich snippet has been marked-up to include a gold star rating, customer reviews, and a price range calculator. I’m being a bit optimistic with a 5* hotel , better check with the boyfriend first. But I wouldn’t want to settle for the hotel below based on its listing…

It’s not nearly as engaging, or informative. I’m more inclined to click on the former listing because I know I’ll be able to read reviews, see photos and prices.

Event snippets:

I also plan to take myself off to London tonight to see some live music. I type in a simple search for “London gigs”…

This rich snippet contains dates and locations of bands playing on the day I performed the search.

I’m not interested in any of the bands playing this evening. But at least I know what’s on before I clicked through to the site.

Here’s another listing for the same search. Again, it gives me less information so I’m less likely to click on it.

This result has told me little about the page’s likely content.

I’m still keen to go out, so I decide to search for a venue where I’ve seen many of my favourite bands. Here’s the listing I see:

(Awesome, Orchid are playing)

This search result is compiled from the venue’s Google+ Local Page, plus the rich snippet data about upcoming events.

I can quickly browse a list to find a band I like and the day of their show. I can commit to the event before I even visit the corresponding booking page, which is important – it is likely to increase conversions.

Recipe snippets:

Tonight, I’d like to make a wholesome vegetarian meal, so I’ll type in “Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie”. Here is one of the results I got back:

This recipe has been marked-up with an enticing picture, a taste rating as well as useful information like cooking time allowance and a calorie count – not that I’m dieting. Below is Quorn’s related listing:

Quorn is a leading vegetarian brand; I’m surprised they haven’t used structured data to their advantage.

It’s hard enough trying to trick meat eaters into eating meat free meals, so a tantalizing picture of a traditional looking pie, along with a calorie count that reflects the health benefits of a meat free meal would definitely help Quorn’s #makeonechangecampaign.

So far you’ve learnt that I’m a pro-active vegetarian and I don’t hold a passport – I’m not presenting myself in a good light am I?

Video Snippets:

Just to add to the self-portrait, I’ve decided that I might start knitting this evening (once I’ve finished my traditional (meat-free) dinner). First, I’ll need to refresh my knitting skills. So I search for an instructional video and here are two of the results I see:

Giving credit where credit’s due, the Daily Mail knows how to structure data.

The top result instantly tells me there will be video guidance, which is a lot easier to follow when grappling with large knitting needles.

Although, if I followed a knitting tutorial by the Daily Mail, I would worry that a knitted jumper would end up with a right sided bias…

How are rich snippets set up?

If you want your listings to look like the good examples above, you’re going to need to add additional data tags to your HTML code. There are three types of markup that you can use on your site including;

  • microdata
  • microformats
  • and RDFa.

Currently, you can use any of these, but Schema.org – the classification of the markup language-recommends that you use Microdata since it has the support of Google, Microsoft (Bing) and Yahoo. Avoid mixing formats together as this can cause confusion:

Image courtesy: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/schema-examples

This image shows the microdata language used, which is classified by the schema vocabulary.

You can check out the schema.org site for good examples and direction on how to implement it in your code. Google also provides some good documentation and tools to use to help implement the various markup codes in its Webmaster Tools Help pages.

Test your rich snippets

Make sure you test your efforts!

Google Webmaster Tools has a useful feature that lets you test your rich snippet. Click here to use their Structured Data Testing Tool. This will confirm whether or not Google can read your markup data and whether your rich snippets are appearing in their search results.

If you would like to make your organic listings more prominent Receptional can help. Just get in touch by filling out the contact form below:

 

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