What are Search Engine Optimization Snippets or Rich Snippets?


Guest Post by Naveen Kumar

Google recently announced some impending changes to the voice snippets feature. Recently we have seen a lot of changes that revolve around this snippet feature. We have seen character length and guideline changes for text snippets, proposed improvement and focus towards voice snippets and further guideline improvements. For the uninitiated, a question might arise that what are these SEO snippets that search engines have been focusing on. Let’s dive in and clear out those questions related to rich snippets and Search Engine Optimization.

Rich Snippets Explained

Rich snippets are also known as schema markup or structured data markup. They optimize a web page to become relevant to the search engine algorithms. Structured data markup can be added to the existing code of the website so that the search engine can understand the content of the website and display enhanced results that contain added features. These added features provide more information to a user and help them decide which search result will be more helpful to their query.

Let’s consider an example here. Suppose you want to buy a mobile phone and you search online to get the best possible price. There will be many results that pop up but with some websites, you might see the cost and the rating of the mobile on the search engine result page itself. This enhanced detail to a search result is called rich snippet. Optimizers and site owners can tweak their website to take advantage of this feature. Usually, only the Meta description shows up along with the URL of a page. This raises the bar when it comes to quality and relevance of search results.

Benefits of Using Rich Snippets

Rich Snippets are the hidden gems of the Search Engine world. According to research data set, only a handful of websites currently employ rich snippets as an SEO and SMO tool. Provided that there are certain types of contents that are suitable for these snippets, they are highly beneficial to anyone who uses them:

  • Rich snippets provide better quality results and give the users an idea about the relevancy of the content of a webpage. With enhanced information, bounce rate can be reduced and CTRs can be increased by a greater margin.
  • The user benefits from the enhanced information. The user experience is amplified and irrelevant clicks can be minimized.
  • This provides the website owners to stand out amongst the crowded results. Even on the 1st page of a search result, a URL with rich snippets will be preferred amongst all the other results.

Content suitable for Rich Snippets

There’s a variety of content that can utilize and benefit from structured data markup. With Microdata being the most supported and used annotations when including RDFa and Microformats, structured data markup can be suitable for:

  • Music/Video Content: There are certain limitations to the musical contents but Video Content can be enhanced with snippets on both Bing and Google. Enhanced features include duration, artist name as well as producer/creator credits.
  • Reviews: People can look up reviews for a restaurant or an amusements park and can get aggregate scores or feature reviews listed separately. Rich snippets support both formats of the content.
  • Products: They probably use rich snippets the most out of any website on the internet. Products employ structured data markup to deploy offers, prices, and bestselling products of their platform to attract more visitors. Structured data markup can support properties such as identifying numbers, price, ratings, and brand name as well as product descriptions. The scope of use of rich snippets is vast when it comes to products.
  • Cooking Recipes: With the growing access to the internet, recipes are the type of content that attracts a lot of searches. Feature snippets aside, rich snippets can identify preparation time, calories contained as well as reviews from fellow users.

These are some of the contents that can benefit a lot from structured data markup. They can enhance their click-through rates and attract more visitors to increase visibility.

Deploying Rich Snippets Effectively

To use Rich Snippets productively, there are certain things webmasters or site owners should know about:

  1. Hidden markups should be avoided when using rich snippets. Google will not display any content that is defined as hidden on your website. This is a common reason for rich snippets not showing up.
  2. Rich Snippet mark up of your website should reflect the essential and fundamental content of the page. This helps Google to determine the relevancy of your page in accordance with a search query.
  3. There are required properties for every element that you use in rich snippets. All of them should be marked up. Furthermore, the correct property name should be used for the chosen markup format.
  4. Rich snippets take time to show up on the SERPs for any industry. Thus, do not be alarmed if you’ve recently deployed rich snippets and they don’t show up.
  5. Once the structured data markup is done, it is strongly recommended that site owners use testing tools to verify the workings of Rich Snippets.

To Conclude: Are Rich Snippets Necessary?

To be blunt and simple, NO! Rich snippets are not necessary as avoiding their use does not entail any penalties, does not affect rankings and site owners can still operate their site without structured data markup. But thinking about necessity is the wrong way to perceive Rich Snippets.

Nowadays, the race is on to get ranked on the first page of the Search results. Even if you get there, after text snippets and knowledge graphs, it is very tough to increase click-through rates without giving users something more. Rich Snippets is the tool that can help you stand out and be the preferred choice.

Avoiding the use of Rich Snippets is ok for now but strategies must be tweaked to adjust for lost visibility potential. And the sooner you start, the better it will be.

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