As implied in the name, a snippet is a small glimpse into a company’s blog or page. A rich snippet means that the small section is “enriched.” Relevant data is added to the regular snippet, which allows for prospects to see a bigger glimpse.
In the search engine results page (also abbreviated as SERP), each result displays a basic structure. Each individual result presents their title, its website link address (URL), and some text from the page (meta description).
These default displays are known as the regular snippets. If companies manage to appear in search results, the general format blends in with all the other search engine results. Prospects would only choose one blue title text over another based on the title itself or the credibility of its associated website.
Google claims that rich snippets do not result in a ranking boost. As a result, most companies are quicker to overlook it. However, the enhanced information contains greater potential than its subtle characteristics.
Before understanding the benefits of rich snippets, we must first understand the fine distinctions between relevant terms that are often misused interchangeably.
Rich results is the generalized umbrella term for any visually-enhanced search engine result.
They also come in multiple forms, such as:
- Home activities
- Review Snippet
To enhance these rich results, Google references to use three out of two options.
- Use meta tags
- Use PageMap to HTML page
- Add rich snippet markup in HTML, which will be referenced soon
The phrase SERP features also gets thrown around. It also is a very generalized term that includes anything that is not the traditional, default, organic result. While the definition seems quite simple, SERP features are used as a marketing strategy. Typically, they don’t come in a result format. Instead, they’re dedicated, separate sections of the page. The following are examples of these SERP features:
- Organization: Information such as business directory, logo, profiles
- Knowledge card: Information such as a data and a picture
- Entity carousel: Individual pictures and a title
Rich snippets are only a subcategory of these rich results. Similarly, there’s also featured snippets, which will be discussed later.
So, what do rich snippets offer if they don’t boost your SEO ranking? The answer: they still offer other SEO benefits.
One benefit is a decreased bounce rate. By definition, the bounce rate is defined by how quickly a user leaves a single-page session. In SERP, the information is more communicative upon initial impression. With those straightforward attractive qualities, prospects are likely to stay on.
Another benefit of a rich snippet is increased click through rate. To reiterate, the visual amplifications catch eyes more than the rest of the default snippets, as it stands out. As a result, users are more likely to click on these because it is more engaging.
On the same note, the additional amount of information serves for the website to be more credible. With implicit credibility comes more trust from customers, which can lead to more sales.
This general idea can be the make or break idea for e-commerce or small-scale businesses. If customers are ordering a mainstream item, such as shoes, niche businesses are competing against brand giants. While there are other e-commerce specific SEO practices, anything helps.
In addition to businesses, there are other rich snippet types that offer at least one information enhancement for other niches.
- Reviews: Star rating, author of review
- Recipes: Star rating, votes, recipe time, calories
- Music: Information such as song length, genre, release date, and producer
- Product: Price, in stock/out of stock
- Top stories: Relevant news
- Videos: Thumbnail, publisher, title
- Events: Dates, times, location, tickets
Knowing the different options is incredibly vital to knowing how to integrate a rich snippet.
In a regular snippet, the meta description shown is usually just a blurb that was already a part of the page. But to have information ready for a rich snippet, it takes a bit more effort beyond keyword optimization.
More specifically, there can only be those extra bits of displayed information if it’s provided to the search engine. While it might seem overwhelming, snippets are relatively simple to implement.
Generally, an organization needs to code structure data to their page. Structured data is information that is designed in an order in which search engines analyze it much easier. What the final output is, as in what appears in the rich snippet, is only a reflection of what is imputed.
To elaborate, in the absence of unstructured data, search engines have to decipher through lots of content. In comparison, with structured data, all the key information is straightforward so search engines end up recognizing it.
With that said, here are the general steps:
- Find the more appropriate type of rich snippet. Keep in mind what you want information you’d want Google to show.
- Embed structured data coding. Whether you’re a business owner or a skilled webmaster, there’s structured data tools to make this process easier. More information will be shown in the next section.
- Double-check inputted information is accurate
- Test to ensure the rich results properly run as desired
- Monitor performance. This step is important to take into account any performance changes
Outside of regular and rich snippets, there’s also one more type of search engine results: featured snippets. Search engines spotlight, or rather feature, snippets of content that acts as an answer to a query.
Visually, these snippets are formatted as:
- Bullet-pointed lists
- Text blurbs
Unlike rich snippets, featured snippets are much harder to obtain. Additionally, the competition level is higher and the quality needs to meet high standards.
Because the core of a featured snippet provides an upfront, quick answer, users don’t always click through the full page of the blog.
Google also implemented featured snippet deduplication, where the URL will not show once more in the results, if it’s already used in the spotlighted section.
In relation to the organic results, all featured snippets at the very top of SERP, also known as position zero. The only result that might go above it is any sponsored content, such as ads. Unlike other SERP features, they still have clickable titles.
In comparison to both a regular and rich snippet, more content is displayed. Given that quality needs to be top-notch, there’s more positive user experiences.
According to Search Engine Land, organic traffic improved by 505% on mobile devices. For desktop computers, the traffic increased by 578 percent. As for tablets, the traffic grew by 399 percent.
Structured Data Tools
Traditionally, HTML tags only infer what is to be displayed. Now, there are popular tools that help with integrating structured data, as mentioned earlier. Schema markup can greatly increase your rankings in local search and enable additional SERP features.
As we look more into coding for the rich results, there is other vocabulary that comes up.
- Microdata: Part of HTML that represents the content. Comes in forms of tags and or labels.
- Schema markup: Form of microdata. Schema has been described as the language for search engines as it tells them what the content actually means.
- Structured data: Information organized so search engines read it easier (as iterated earlier)
Schema.org is created by search engines and digital companies, for the sole purpose of inputting structured data. Its processes are laid out clear and straightforward for webmasters.
Within this website, there are different coding formats:
- RDFa (Resource Description Framework in Attributes): More skilled skills require to code with this format. However, for beginners, RDFa does come in a Lite option. This is a HTML5 extension but is also compatible with XML documents like XHTML5, HTML 4 and SVG.
Google Rich Snippets
Google claims structured data does not necessarily equate to rich results.
However, structured data is fundamental, as it almost acts as the bare minimum to obtaining a rich result. By optimizing assuring that structured data is filled out, you’re optimizing the chances of having a rich snippet. After all, Google would understand the data better.
The search engine comes with its own sets of tools.
- Structured Data Markup Helper: This is a very user-friendly tool. Its simplistic qualities can be beneficial to those who aren’t webmasters. Transforms structured data into a feasible HTML coding.
- Rich Results Testing Tool: Test during two different processes. For the coding, test run the coding to see if it works. Even after coding, test run the URL. This tool also supports all data formats. Users can also test the user agent to see how the rich result would look like on a mobile device compared to a desktop computer.
WordPress Rich Snippets
WordPress, the website making software, offers plug-in tools to add structured data to its users.
WordPress Review Pro
- Pros: Compatible with software updates. Versatile with most WordPress themes. Very customizable. Supports rich results types: article, book, game, movie, music, painting, place, product, recipe, restaurant, software application, store, TvSeries, website
- Pros: Simple, high-quality and free. Supports rich results types: review, event, people, product, recipe, software application, video and articles. As for rich snippets, it includes price, author, photos, star ratings and more.
- Cons: Less customization opportunities, specifically six settings, meaning there’s more of a limit to how the final rich snippet can look like
WP Rich Snippets
- Pros: Easy set-up. Translation resource. Supported rich result types: articles, recipes, reviews, products, organizations, restaurants, software application
- Cons: Not compatible with newer programming updates. All add-ons require another plugin. Most add-ons require additional costs.