Special result snippets in Google search results are described as rich snippets. They include additional information that is not stored in the meta description of the affected target site, but is stored as structured data in its source code with the help of markups.
With rich snippets the attention of the users is steered towards a specific search result. At the same time, rich snippets can offer additional added value in the form of pictures or event details. Further information from rich snippets are displayed both in mobile and desktop search.
The uses of rich snippets for SEO
According to Google, rich snippets do not influence the ranking of a website. Therefore, they do not count as ranking factors. Nevertheless, search hits enriched with additional information have various SEO benefits:
- Greater attention: Snippets on Google or other search engines with additional information ensure that the search result are given more attention by users. This allows webmasters to stand out from competing search results.
- Higher click rate: Thanks to the display of rich snippets CTR’s in the SERPs rise significantly with a corresponding increase in visits. In addition, higher CTR’s tend to be an important positive user signal and an important ranking factor.
- Greater relevance: Given that rich snippets display additional, relevant information, the click likelihood is improved. If the search engine has detected that the search for a term (e.g. “sticky rolls”) is related to a topic (“foodstuff”, possibly “cookery/bakery”) a site identified as a “recipe” in the code, content will presumably be more relevant than a site that is not correspondingly identified.
- AMP websites: If a website has AMP enabled, the structured data can improve its display and content.
Information types for rich snippets
Rich snippets can offer visitors many different types of information. The following classifications are currently available in search engine results:
The major search engines including Yahoo, Google and Yandex are sponsors of the schema.org portal. The schema.org microformats can serve the creation of rich snippets. A nominally skilled webmaster can find schemas with the matching topic for your websites and can in turn enhance the side code with it.
All search engines are capable of displaying rich snippets, which can read out structured data as per the schemas of JSON-LD, microdata and RDFa. Currently, however, it is predominantly Google and Bing that use structured data for the display of rich snippets in their search results.
This is how rich snippets are created
In order for structured data to be read out by search engines, the source text at hand must have corresponding markup. Webmasters have two further formats available to them in RDFa and microdata here, however, the microformats have since established themselves according to schema.org. These are also supported by the major search engine providers.
It is possible that various so-called “entities” can be separately distinguished on a website. In practice, for example, this means that both a recipe and an event could be given markup on a site.
An example from google.com for a recipe site, which is also available as an AMP:
<html amp lang=”en”>
<title>Strawberry-Mango Mesclun Recipe</title>
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://example.ampproject.org/recipe-metadata.html” />
<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width,minimum-scale=1,initial-scale=1″>
“name”: “Strawberry-Mango Mesclun Recipe”,
“description”: “Mango, strawberries, and sweetened dried cranberries are a vibrant addition to mixed greens tossed with an oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.”,
“recipeYield”: “12 servings”,
“servingSize”: “1 bowl”,
“calories”: “319 cal”,
“fatContent”: “20.2 g”
“1/2 cup sugar”,
“3/4 cup canola oil”,
“1 teaspoon salt”,
“1/4 cup balsamic vinegar”,
“8 cups mixed salad greens”,
“2 cups sweetened dried cranberries”,
“1/2 pound fresh strawberries, quartered”,
“1 mango – peeled, seeded, and cubed”,
“1/2 cup chopped onion”,
“1 cup slivered almonds”
“recipeInstructions”: “n1. Place the sugar, oil, salt, and vinegar in a jar with a lid. Seal jar, and shake vigorously to mix.n2. In a large bowl, mix salad greens, sweetened dried cranberries, strawberries, mango, and onion. To serve, toss with dressing and sprinkle with almonds.”
<h1>The best strawberry and mango mesclun you’ll ever try!</h1>
A further example for structure data on an event:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Event”>
<a itemprop=”url” href=”nba-miami-philidelphia-game3.html”>
NBA Eastern Conference First Round Playoff Tickets:
<span itemprop=”name”> Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers – Game 3 (Home Game 1) </span>
<meta itemprop=”startDate” content=”2016-04-21T20:00″>
<div itemprop=”location” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Place”>
<a itemprop=”url” href=”wells-fargo-center.html”>
Wells Fargo Center
<div itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>
<div itemprop=”offers” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/AggregateOffer”>
Priced from: <span itemprop=”lowPrice”>$35</span>
<span itemprop=”offerCount”>1938</span> tickets left
In both of the above examples it’s clear that both properties and further details can be given – not all of necessarily have to appear in the snippet in the SERP. Tip: An alternative to the adjustment of the source code is offered by the Google Data Highlighter. If a website is stored in the Google Search Console, corresponding recurring elements on a website can be marked. Google then saves these as structured data and reads out the remaining subpages as appropriate. However, the result is not always particularly satisfying and is only recommended for temporary optimization.
A rich snippet generator from the web can also be used for the creation of structured data for the display of Google rich snippets. These mostly work rather reliably and properly distinguish the information to be formatted even for non-experts in microdata.
How can rich snippets can be tested?
Google offers webmasters a free tool for testing. Either the code snippet or the corresponding URL can be entered in the tool. The test provides comprehensive errors reporting and also shows what the result would look like in the SERP.
Note that if the tool does not show any errors in implementation, this is no guarantee that Google will ultimately display rich snippets.
Tip: Distinguish more than is displayed
As far as the SEO is concerned, it is important that as much content as possible be distinguished according to its entity. In some cases, the content isn’t always displayed consistently by Google. Note however that search engines also better understand the underlying information without a fully displayed snippet – and is therefore better able to sort results in the SERP.