If you’ve done a Google search lately, you’ve seen rich snippets. They’re the results that stand out on the page because they feature a thumbnail video or photo, a summary of ratings, or some other little added extra that tells you what you’ll find on the page if you click through to it. Those little tidbits are what make the snippet “rich.” They add more detail to the search engine result and make it more likely that people will click on the link to read the rest of the content.
Google originally introduced rich snippets in May 2009 as part of the Semantic Web initiative with support for just a few formats, including reviews and recipes. Since then, the search engine giant has added format support for products, local business, organizations, people, review ratings, software, events, and recently, authorship. The company continues to add support for new formats as they are developed and rolled out. Google has also continued the push to get more webmasters to use rich snippet markup so they can improve the search results they display.
Why You Should Use Rich Snippets
Here’s a side by side comparison of two Google search results that should show you exactly why you should be using rich snippets for your posts and content.
Un-optimized Google Search ResultRich-ified Google Search ResultWhich search result would draw your eyes and your clicks?
Why Your Blog Should Use Google Authorship
Sometime last year, you may have started noticing that search results from major publishers often contained a head shot of the author and a snippet of author information. Those started appearing a little while before Google announced that it was rolling out authorship rich snippet markup to the general public. Starting in June 2011, any content creator could link his authored pages to a writer profile, which would enable Google to display the author’s photo and some profile information with the search results.
Interesting news, but why should you care?
Two words: visibility and authority. When you link your articles and blog posts to a writer profile, and by extension, to each other, you are cementing your reputation as an authority. In the eyes of Google and of the people you want to reach, you are taking accountability for what you have written, and that gives you more credibility.
In addition, your photo alongside the search results makes your link stand out on the results page, which draws attention and increases the chance that a reader will click on the link to read your post. The more people who click on the link, the more respect you’ll get from Google. The more respect you get from Google as an authority, the more highly the search engine will value your posts and your authorship and… you can see where this is going, right?
How to Rich-ify Your Snippets
If you want Google to display rich data about your Web pages, you have to tell the search engine that the information is there. You do that with special tags that identify specific elements and information on your page. Google currently recognizes three different types of markup:
- Test your set up with the Rich Snippets Testing Tool.
Learn more about tags supported by Google, Bing and Yahoo! at Schema.org.