rich snippets

Simon Mead

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A rich snippet is a piece of information, stars, images or videos that search engines present below a hit on the results page. By optimizing the HTML source code, the website owner can provide the search engines with the information they need, allowing his to show up as Rich Snippets in the SERPs. This is a way to increase the number of clicks on the search result and thus get more traffic to his website.

Definition

A snippet appears in various forms on the Internet. This often refers to the snippet on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) – the results page of search engines like Google. In this context, a snippet is a preview of a web page that is generated from the page’s meta information.

If the source code of a web page contains the appropriate information, the search engine can also provide a rich snippet. Then, in addition to the Meta Description, it also displays elements such as rating systems, pricing, image and much more.

If the webmaster integrates this information in the source code during his search engine optimization, the most important information can already be presented to the user on the SERP. This way, a website operator draws attention to his offer earlier and can lead more users to his site.

How can you create Rich Snippets?

If you want to promote your site better in the SERPs already, for example to improve your conversion rate, you have three ways to generate the snippets.

For all three variants, knowledge of HTML is required. To help, sites like schema.org provide the appropriate HTML tags and markup you need. Alternatively, Google itself offers the tool Data Highlighter with the Google Search Console, with which you can mark relevant information for Google.

rich snippets

After you have inserted the appropriate lines in your source code, the crawlers of the search engines can include this information in the results page.

Google recognizes the rich snippet designation in the form of microformats, microdata, and RDFa. What these words all mean you will find in the next paragraph. With these, you can expose a wide range of information.Rich Snippets introduced so far are:

  • Reviews
  • Persons and authors
  • Companies or institutions
  • Recipes
  • Products and services
  • Prices
  • Events
  • Music
  • Videos
  • Copyright information
rich snippets

What are microformats, microdata and RDF?

Depending on your website, there are different methods you can use to generate your rich snippets. Today, microdata is a standard that most search engines can recognize and implement.

Schema.org also uses this method. The advantage of the RDFa method is that you can expand your information more easily and provide more information overall.

Microformats

By using the appropriate commands in the HTML source code, you can mark which parts of your web page you want to present as a Rich Snippet. A special vocabulary identifies the appropriate category that you want to present in the SERPs under the meta information.

Within a HTML tag, you use a microformat to define so-called entities and their properties. For example, to highlight a person you can use the microformat hCard. In the source code you note the command class=vcard. Afterwards you can assign further subproperties to the person with the line class=”…”.

Microdata

Just like with microformats, you annotate information relevant to your rich snippets with commands in the HTML text. One command would be the term “itemscope”, which you can then further specify as a person. Using commands like “itemprop” you can assign additional properties to this person, like their profession, a personal website, an address or similar.

RDFa

Unlike microformats or microdata, you don’t use HTML commands for RDFa, you use XHTML – an HTML variant that is more complex but also more versatile. If you want to tag a person with RDFa, you can do so using the typeof=”v:person” command. With the tag property=”v:property” you assign the other properties to this person.

Rich snippets without working on the source code

If you want to provide rich snippets without having to change your source code, you can use JSON-D to offload the structured data to another script. With this method, you assign the values to the respective data.With various rich snippet tools such as from Google, you can test whether your programming is also error-free. If everything is displayed correctly, the rich snippets will show up within a couple of weeks after being indexed by the search engine.

Rich snippets are a part of search engine optimization

An important aspect of your SEO work is not just optimizing your site for the Google crawler. Most users reach your site through a search engine – in Germany almost always Google. Therefore, it is important not only to work on your position on the SERP, but to address your target group already on the results page. Good rich snippets significantly increase click-through rates and increase your page views.

In the mass of search results, eye-catching rich snippets like videos or images stand out. That’s why rich snippet optimization has already developed as its own discipline in the SEO world.

Conclusion

Rich snippets allow you to tag search engines with additional information that is presented on the results page. This way you can make your search engine hit more eye-catching and generate more organic traffic to your site. It pays to invest the work in the HTML source code for more page views or conversions.

If you want to learn more about Rich Snippets in relation to Google reviews and their impact on your click-throughs, you can check out our post Rich Snippets: Google reviews in search results (2019)!

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