A Rich (Snippets) History

Posted on 26. Sep, 2011 by in Digital Marketing



Google appears to be releasing new types of Rich Snippets at an increasing rate.  Rich snippets were officially launched in May 2009 and after that initial launch it was a full eight months before any new types were released (events).  In the last 5 months Google has launched 4 new types of snippets based on structured markup (prayer times, authors, music and apps).

The boundaries of what is and isn’t a Rich Snippet are blurred since Google enriches many snippets with data from conventional HTML.  One example is the recent “list” snippets which Google happily extracts from tables, divs or numerous other HTML elements.  Another is breadcrumb snippets which Google can extract without specific markup – although they are far more likely to be seen when used. Prior to the launch of Rich Snippets, video snippets had long been seen in search results although they were only referred to as Universal, One-box or simply video results.

Video Rich Snippets

Video Rich Snippets

For the purposes of this article I’ll define Rich Snippets as snippets extracted from stuctured markup such as microformats, RDFa, microdata and others.  Video can now be considered Rich Snippets since Google also extracts video information from RDFa and FBML.

The increase in frequency of snippet releases over the last few months may be partly due to the launch of schema.org, the extensive vocabulary of which enabled the recent music snippets.  However, schema.org’s large number of types wasn’t even enough as it did not include any way to markup apps information.  Google had to use the extensible nature of schema.org to invent a brand new schema.  It remains to be seen whether this will become incorporated into schema.org but if past experiences with sitemaps.org are anything to go by, don’t hold your breath.

Apps Rich Snippet

Apps Rich Snippet

Authorship markup is more than just a Rich Snippet, it allows Google to associate content to individual user profiles and potentially allows them to rank that content based on the reputation of the author.  It also provides a nice snippet which gets the searcher’s attention. Depending on what the users think of that author, it can increase the clickthrough rate. Authorship markup has only been partially rolled out with some of the first snippets being shown without any markup being used.

Authorship Rich Snippet

Authorship Rich Snippet

Prayer times are the poor relations in the Rich Snippet family.  They were not announced on the Google’s Webmaster blog as all the others were and there is no example provided in the Rich Snippets testing tool. It’s possible Google feels these snippets might be in some way controversial and has kept them low profile to avoid problems.

Prayers Rich Snippet

Prayers Rich Snippet

The People Rich Snippet is generally taken from social profiles such as those on Facebook or Linkedin. They can be easily spammed both deliberately and accidentally as we can see below:

People Rich Snippet

People Rich Snippet

Music Rich Snippets show tracks that are available to listen to on the page.

Music Rich Snippets

Music Rich Snippets

Reviews and aggregate reviews are some of the most common snippets and are used on pages describing products, businesses and places.

Review Aggregate Rich Snippet

Review Aggregate Rich Snippet

 

Review Rich Snippet

Review Rich Snippet

Product information is often but not necessarily used in conjunction with review or aggregate review information.  The product information is often supplied via XML product feeds rather than HTML.

Product Rich Snippet

Product Rich Snippet

Breadcrumb trail navigation can be marked up to allow search engines to extract information about the site hierarchy in order to show links to category pages in snippets.

Breadcrumb Rich Snippets

Breadcrumb Rich Snippets

Events Rich Snippets are often used by ticket agencies and venues.  They show useful information about concerts and other events directly in the search result.

Events Rich Snippet

Events Rich Snippet

Update 24th October 2011: Google appears to be about to launch 2 new types of rich snippets – Movies and TV Series.  Google has not yet, as far as I know, announced these but they can be seen as examples in the Rich Snippets testing tool. An example of a product with many reviews has also been added.

I’ve not been able to replicate these in the UK or US search results and have not been able to find anyone who can, yet.

Movie Rich Snippet

Movie Rich Snippet

TV Series Rich Snippet

TV Series Rich Snippet

Product with many reviews rich snippet

Product With Many Reviews Rich Snippet

12/05/2009

Rich Snippets Launched Guidelines
People Guidelines
Review ratings Guidelines
Reviews (individual & aggregate) Guidelines
Organisations Guidelines
Videos Guidelines

26/10/2009

Testing Tool launched

22/01/2010

Events Guidelines

11/03/2010

Microdata Support

13/04/2010

Recipes Guidelines

26/04/2010

Rich Snippets go international

02/09/2010

Testing Tool improved

02/09/2010

Breadcrumbs Guidelines

22/09/2010

Rich Snippets for local search Guidelines

02/11/2010

Products and Shopping Guidelines

24/02/2011

Recipe view

29/04/2011

Prayers Guidelines

02/06/2011

Schema.org Guidelines

07/06/2011

Authorship Markup Guidelines

18/08/2011

Music Guidelines

14/09/2011

Apps Guidelines

Coming soon?

Flims (Movies) – Not yet announced Guidelines

Coming soon?

TV Series – Not yet announced Guidelines

 I’m sorry if I’ve missed anything out here.  If I have, please leave a comment below.

 
Richard Falconer

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