Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you are using Google to hunt for something, certain search results stand out more than others? When it comes to Search Engine Optimisation and the process of attracting potential customers to our website, (hoping of course that those visitors will translate into loyal customers), there is much more potential to be grasped than simply how high we rank within Google’s search engine results.

 

Make Your Website ‘Pop’!


As we scroll through our search results we can see that a more or less standard result will appear with a larger title in blue text, a web address below it in green and, below that, an out-take of text from that web address that Google has deemed relevant to our search term. What you will likely notice, however, is that some search results seem to “pop” more, due to the fact that there is more information on the display. You might see a small image on the left of the search result, a star rating, the name of an author, an address, or a host of other small pieces of information that help you to know that this link is exactly what you are looking for. If you have not been aware of this before, try searching Google for a common food recipe. I guarantee you will find some great examples of a richer search result!

 

Leading Your Target Audience To Your Website


So, how do the creators of these websites provide this information to search engines like Google? The answer is via what we call “rich snippets”, the term for pieces of html code on our web page that tell a search engine more about what the page contains. The crucial lesson here is that for us as website owners, rich snippets offer a great way to increase a search engine’s capacity to present our product page or website to those looking for exactly what we have to offer. This means that our target audience is not only more likely to find us and become our customers, but that our site visitors are more likely to stick around when they visit our website, rather than hitting the back button.

 

 


Efficiently Communicate A Whole Host Of Information


This practice has become standardised following the arrival of Schema.org, which is a collaborative community that aims to create, maintain and promote structured data markup, encouraging the use of rich snippets across the web. Major search engines Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex founded this project together in order to increase the quality of search results for web users and online businesses alike, facilitating the use of three different types of data markup: Microdata, Microformats and RDFa.

Whichever the type of markup, the content of rich snippets is broadly called “schema”, and lots of different types of schema can be applied to help users and search engines identify what your content is about. This could include products, reviews, movies, business information, recipes, events, video content, addresses and people. All the information, or schema, within the rich snippet is provided in a multi-levelled structure, with the primary piece of information referred to as the “itemscope”. The itemscope can have its own set of individually relevant values or sub-items that are referred to as “itemtype” and within these is a further range of sub-items call “itemprop”. This may sound a little complicated, but basically, it means that we can effectively communicate a whole host of useful information to Google and other search engines, that will enable them to pinpoint the value of our content and give an instant cue to searchers that our website can meet their needs.

 

Use Rich Snippets To Develop An Edge On Your Competition


Search engines apply a pretty sophisticated screening process to rich snippets in order to ensure that the results they present to their users are the best available. For this reason, rich snippet information may take several days to show up on results pages, if at all, and it can take months for the snippets to start showing permanently. Therefore, to benefit from rich snippets we need to make sure that structured data is formatted correctly and represents our content accurately, noting that search engines will penalise websites that use rich snippets inappropriately! There are several tools out there to help us analyse our markup. Google offer their own flexible structured data tester into which you can either paste the code of a whole page, just specific snippets of code, or you can enter the URL of a page to test. Some great browser extensions are also available for Chrome, Firefox and other browsers, to help identify and validate markup on a page automatically.


The use of rich snippets allows us to develop an edge over our competition, displaying embellished, and eye-catching results on search engine results pages. With this tool we can make it easier for search engines to interpret our data, enabling them to use our website to deliver perfect search results to users, and in turn develop those users into our growing, happy customer base!

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