Rich snippets are the additional details for a website that get displayed on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) of Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. These microformats of information were introduced by Google in May 2009 at their search ology event. They are exactly what their name suggests - snippets of rich information from websites to enrich the user search experience. It is a powerful way to help users find what they are looking for better and quicker. To understand better, whenever users run a search query, the results page will almost always have three main components for each result (or website) - the URL, the title tag in blue, and the meta description. This is a snippet - a sneak peek or glimpse of what the website is. It helps give a basic idea about the information and content on the site. A rich snippet is simply a normal snippet that has been made rich by the use of additional information. This information helps users get more relevant data about their search query, thereby enriching their search experience.
Rich Snippets are The New Way of gaining a Competitive Advantage
Search engines have been evolving with newer tools and enhancing their algorithms to make the search experience even more seamless by the day. With so much crowding in the digital space, it is extremely crucial to break the clutter by gauging your target audience’s attention. As important as it is to rank well organically, very often the top results on a SERP are sponsored results. This being the case, a top-ranking website in the organic search can often be found only after many scrolls down the results page. Ranking on SERP is just not enough as there is so much competition within organic search itself. Rather one should aim to also optimize the listing to the fullest. This can help you stay ahead of your competitors. To be able to get the user to notice, the result needs to stand out. This can be done by having rich snippets that are more noticeable than other results and help in getting attention - thus leading to a higher click-through rate. Apart from gauging the user’s attention, rich snippets also help in ranking. This happens because the use of structured data helps search engines understand the content on the website. An understanding of what the page is about enables search engines to rank the site and display the results to users who would find it relevant.
Rich snippets are to digital advertising what billboards have and continue to be a leader in traditional marketing. The key reason brands continue to invest in billboard advertising is the high probability of ‘visibility’. The one thing that billboard advertising offers is a chance to be seen - sheerly because they’re ‘out there' and you can’t help but notice. Rich snippets help in differentiating a result from the other results on the page by increasing their probability of being seen by the user. The additional, precise, and quality information that a rich snippet has, provides a brief summary of the data on the target site. This information is a quick and convenient way for users to see more valuable information about a site’s contents at a glimpse.
A study conducted by Milestone Research analyzed more than 4.5 million user search queries, to gain insights into what kind of search results do users like to click more. It was found that the clickthrough rate of rich snippets (and rich search results, in general) was 58% while that of search results with standard snippets was 41%. The reason users click more on rich snippets is the additional information they already have about the contents of the targeted web page without having to open it. Elements like review stars or review points, duration of the video clip, preparation, and time to complete different activities, thumbnail images, nutritional content, etc. help in drawing attention and getting clicks. These elements help add confidence and trust for users by letting them know that the landing page has the content they’re looking for.
Now to get a little on the technical side of rich snippets, businesses get rich snippets for their search result on the SERP, when site owners add specific information as structured data in the site’s HTML code. This is called Structured Data Markup. Users have to be thorough about the content on their page that they want to ‘mark up’. This information will get highlighted in the search result as a rich snippet, hence relevant content should be prioritized. There are structured data testing tools as well which help with checking if the website has structured data or schema that will show up as rich result snippets.
Depending on the core product or service offered, different businesses can use different types of rich snippets to get their target audience to notice them. As per the contents of the web page, any of the below types of structured data can be added for snippets to appear -
Product structured data:
This is ideal for product businesses and e-commerce websites that can add product-related information to highlight details. This can include ratings, stars, votes, pricing (in the right currency), availability (whether the product is in stock or not), discounts, and other special schemes. This can also include the warranty period and condition of the product (new, refurbished, etc.). You need to implement product schema which can easily be acquired from Technical SEO under SEO Tools > Schema Generator > Product
FAQ structured data:
FAQ format can be used to add related questions and answers to structured data. This can include specifications, dos, and don’ts of usage, etc. Content sites, especially, can optimize their SERP listings by adding FAQ, ‘How to’ or listicles structured data. All you need to do it add a FAQ sescion to your blog/article page, make sure you have the correct schema in place, and you’re golden.
Reviews structured data:
Reviews and ratings help build trust among users as they find these details more authentic. Ratings, stars, votes, reviews, the name of the reviewer, etc. can be added to the reviews schema. Specific reviews can be highlighted using structured data as well. So, you might think that the Review schema is what you need to add. But, if you’re reviewing a product, you can also use Product schema (with “Review” as a section).
Movies & Events structured data:
Information like start time, end time, duration of the movie/event, ticket prices, availability, location, and landmark details can be used for physical events and movies.
You can create an event schema from Technical SEO under SEO Tools > Schema Generator > Event. This is what the event schema looks like:
This is what the listing looks like:
So, we can safely come to the conclusion that rich snippets are indeed the billboards of the digital age.
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