SEO | October 3, 2012

Rich snippets – what are they and how can you benefit?

Today Google announced an update to their webmaster tools guidelines. It’s been a while since they last updated their guidelines, which had become a little dated after a turbulent year with so many significant algorithm updates.

One important addition has been rich snippets.

What are rich snippets?

Rich snippets are designed to provide searchers with additional information on a site’s content prior to clicking through to it. An example that people will be familiar with is the star review snippet.

Rich Snippet - Apple Example

This allows searchers to form an opinion on the quality of a site before they even click through to the site.

Other rich snippets include

  • music (listing songs, track durations),
  • people (name, job titles, photo, Steve Jobs),
  • products (pricing, ratings, availability),
  • business organisations (name, telephone, website),
  • recipes (name, reviews, photos)
  • events (date, type, location, tickets, photos, Foo Fighters)
  • consumer software such as mobile phone apps.

 

What are the benefits of rich snippets?

From the examples above, it’s pretty clear what the benefits are of well implemented rich snippets. If you can stand out from your competitors when that set of search results pops up, then you’re likely to experience increased click through rates.

Rich snippets are also a great way to position your brand by creating a sense of authority in the search results. When Google puts so much more emphasis on your listing over and above the competition searchers are more comfortable in clicking through to your site. The additional exposure and space that your listing takes up is also a great platform for getting your message across to prospective customers.

 

Rich snippets and social media

Rich snippets can also be used to distribute your social media content. Video mark up and Facebook share are recognised by Google and can be attached to your videos to encourage interaction. Marking up your video can also help Google show videos uploaded to YouTube in the search results.

Rich Snippets - iPhone Example

As traditional link building moves more to a content centred approach there has been considerable interest in the author tag, an element of the people rich snippet. When interconnected with a blog and Google+ profile, Google can show details of an author alongside the content they have published in the search results. This can have a profound effect on personal brands as well as increase click through rates and social following.

For more information about the new Google rich snippet guidelines visit the Webmaster Central Blog.

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