What are Rich Snippets?
They’re not a new kind of biscuit, even though they sound like one. Rich Snippets represent opportunities to improve your SEO and increase traffic to your website. They are added pieces of information which are shown on search engine web listings, including ratings and reviews as well as images and links to pertinent pages. This added information provides search engine users with a more detailed first impression of your website, and so draws interest to it.
Rich Snippets have evolved over time. Keeping up with online trends, the introduction of new media into Snippets including video and apps has been in step with the innovation of the internet in general. These snippets of important information are encoded into the website so that search engines can pick them up and display the site more prominently. The use of Snippets has been undervalued in SEO circles because the implementation requires some coding expertise.
How to Use Rich Snippets
Rich Snippets have to be installed into your website in order for Google and other search engines’ crawlers to pick them up. The easiest method for doing this is by using microdata, which is a way of describing content in terms of the type of information. So, if one of your web pages is a recipe, then you can add into html some simple tags to tell google to present that information in a display listing, AKA Rich Snippet. If your recipe has a five star review, then tag the review in the right way and it will show up on a Google search. Then all you need to do is test the Snippet to make sure it does what you want. It’s as simple as that. It may take Google a few weeks to crawl through the new Snippet, so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen immediately.
Types of Rich Snippets
There are several different kinds of Rich Snippets. These can be classified in terms of content or link type.
These are for authors’ biographical pages. They tend to contain head shots, the name of the author, social media links such as Google+ circles or twitter followers. The aim of these Snippets are to draw people interested in the author to the site, drawing on their notoriety.
Business/ Organisation Snippets
These Snippets are for businesses to provide contacts, including the names of the owners or managers of the company, a description of the company’s goals and information such as directions and contact details. They are aimed at people interested in working for the company or making use of the company’s services.
For commercial or community events, Rich Snippets provide calendar dates and times, as well as information about the event and people on social media who are attending, possibly with the option of marking your own attendance and noting the event in your online calendar. This can be a good way of promoting events organised by your company.
Music Album Snippets
These will be specifically to promote the album being mentioned and will probably include a link to the album on iTunes, as well as a picture of the cover art and information about the artists involved, ratings and so on.
The Future of Rich Snippets
What does the future hold for Rich Snippets? While a few Rich Snippets can help increase your site’s prominence, some argue that too much information up front makes it unnecessary to click on the link, instead making the user spend more time on Google’s website, thus increasing their notoriety instead of yours. This may be especially true for recipe sites, or other sites that people go to for information. However, commercial sites that focus on the selling of goods and services will be less affected. The future of Rich Snippets is going to go beyond Google, to other search engines like Bing or Yahoo, who already have some Rich Snippets interventions in place.
Another horizon is the Semantic Web, suggested by Tim Berners-Lee the inventor of the World Wide Web. The Semantic Web is like a universal online grammar that allows data to be shared and organised across enterprise and community boundaries. Rich Snippets represent a glimpse of what the Semantic Web could achieve, by getting users closer to the information they’re trying to access. But where the future will take us in this regard is too soon to tell. Does your company use Rich Snippets? If you’re a company with a website, the answer should be yes. Contact Wirebox to learn how you can get to that yes today.