Rich Snippets: Why we should still care

Posted on 17. Oct, 2012 by in Digital Marketing

Rich Snippets have been around since 2009 but for the purpose of this post, let’s revisit the definition before we go in to more detail.

In essence, rich snippets are ‘’search results that have been enhanced using structured data from your webpages ‘’. The use of rich snippets allows brands to harness the type of message they want to deliver more dynamically making it easier to connect with and engage with your audience. Depending on whether you sell concert tickets or your site feature recipes, rich snippets provide a dynamic set of ways for sites to highlight their information in the search results.

Google currently supports rich snippets for the following type of data mark up:

  1. People
  2. Products
  3. Businesses and organisations
  4. Reviews
  5. Events
  6. Music
  7. Software application
  8. Videos: Facebook Share and RDFa
  9. Recipes
  10. Breadcrumbs

Back in April, our own Head of Technical SEO highlighted how sites appeared to be trying to manipulate the search results by falsely appearing more authoritative, appealing and customer friendly to users which in turn was providing a detrimental, spammy user experience. The point of rich snippets was to use the structured markup to enhance your listing with your business proposition. But the feeling in the LBi SEO camp was that some brands were using the enhancements to portray untrue or misleading representations of themselves in order to appear more appealing to users in the results.

So what has happened since then?

Google appears to have cleansed the credit industry of its ability to use rich snippets in organic search, signalling that misuse will warrant a re-think from the search giant in the value or validity of structured mark up.

Other questions made by the SEO industry which tie in to the potential spammy nature of the snippets are:

How can my site expect to stand out using rich snippets, when my competitors are using rich snippets too?

  1. This is a similar dilemma to the above example where all brands are showing the star review ratings, making none of them stand out and all the of listing slook spammy. First of all, look at the ads above and below you. If the above and below results are using star review mark for a a concert, then displaying the concert dates in your listing will create an alternative format for users to pay attention to. Simlarly, if your site listing for a recipe is wedged in between star review listings from competitors, add a photo or video to make it more dynamic. Always look out for what your competitors are doing in order to capitalise on their weaknesses.

The knowledge graph tells users too much information to give them an incentice to click through to my site?’’

The introduction of Google’s Knowledge Graph has raised a few questions over how sites may be impacted by the immediacy in which Google is attempting to power answers in the search results.  How important will the search results be with rich snippets or without when Google is trying to answer all our traffic’s question. My answer would be hang tight and don’t give up on the means at your disposal to highlight your listing. In other words, use rich snippets when and where you can for your site. The knowledge graph is another addition to the changing landscape that SEO has inherited and while Google tests out how the Knowledge Graph will sit and be powered more permanently, use the tools at your disposal such as rich snippets to pull traffic towards your site.

There are many tools at our disposal to help those in the SEO industry drive traffic to our websites and rich snippets is one which still holds great value in terms of improving click through rates and traffic to the site.

You can make use of the Google Webmaster Tools feedback for your markup and the fact that Google have recently improved the testing tool for snippets, confirms the tools planned longevity in search. So, if using rich snippets is an angle you have hesitated on in one of your campaigns for one reason or another before, why not take 10 minutes to see if you site could benefit from them? Chances are, there is a justification for them somewhere in that search space for your site.