A Beginners Guide to Rich Snippets


Even though rich Snippets are not deemed as necessary, they do have certain benefits to the major search engines, users and site operators. In fact, these benefits are often more noticeable to everyone involved in digital marketing activities.

With rich snippets, the following usually occurs:

  • search engines are provided with the capability to return a lot more relevant results.
  • Users have the ability to determine the relevancy of specific results much faster and easier without reading a lot of unnecessary information. It is also important to note that users gain a better understanding of the contents on a site, and the relevancy to the query that they make without having to visit the site.
  • Site operators usually gain from an increase in click-throughs as well as a reduction in bounce rates.


What Are Rich Snippets?

what is a rich snippet in google serps


So, what are rich snippets? Rich Snippets can be described as structured data markup that’s presently used by site operators. This data is added to the site owner’s existing HTML code so that the search engines can easily identify what type of data is contained on each of a site’s web pages. To take this information a little bit further, the major search engines are also using this markup structure to give the user richer search results. Thereby, giving the user more capabilities in finding the data that they are really searching for online.

Under the traditional scheme, when a website showed up on a SERP, Google, and other major search engines would simply display the title of the site, its URL and whatever meta description that had been assigned to that page. When Rich Snippets are used, however, Google is now being given the capability to show a little bit more info about the actual results. Some of the more pertinent info is identified as follows.

  • a review
  • a person
  • a product
  • a business
  • and so forth

For example, if the search results displayed items from Google Pay or Itunes, the items will show up with a number of different relevant factors including the number of votes for that items, its overall rating, the associated price and the platform supported.

Today, there are at least 3 different markup specs currently recognized by these major search engines, and they are: Microdata, RDFa, and Microformats. Of all of these 3, the most widely supported is Microdata, particularly as relates in terms of annotations.

It is also important to note that rich snippets can be used as follows:

  • Reviews – Though there are different properties for each, snippets can be used on aggregate and reviews.
  • People – Google and Bing are currently showing richer info from LinkedIn when a user searches for those that are well-known. The same or similar results are also possible for any site that provides a profile of their staff, team members as well as others in an organization. All that’s needed for the snippet is the name, title, contact details, role, and the associated professional affiliations.
  • Products –Products and special offers made various merchants, as well as particular online stores, can be shown as rich snippets too. Setting up the appropriate properties is also standard since the major search engines can pull in the name of the product, its image, description, brand, identifiers (ISBN, SKU, etc.) and etc.
  • Businesses & Organisations – When a rich snippet is being used for a business & organization, the search engine will be using the following properties: business name, logo, its physical address or the site’s url, telephone no, and geolocation.
  • Recipes – When a rich snippet is being used for a recipe, the search engine will pull in wide range of related properties including: reviews, the type of dish, cooking and preparation time, nutritional value (i.e. calories, fat content and more)
  • Events – When a rich snippet is being used for events, the search engine can pull in: future events, ticket details, duration, event’s official name, start and end date, and geolocation.
  • Music – Though Bing does not mention rich snippet support for music, Google does make provision. For instance, they may link to individual tracks, full albums and previews of songs.
  • Video Content – When a rich snippet is being used for video content, it may apply to embedded video content on a site. The properties used may relate to production company, duration, license, creator and the class family friendly.

How to Add Rich Snippets to Your Content

First of all, not all content has to be marked up, even though markups can make it is easier for the search engines to provide better results. The general rule of thumb, however, is only visible content should be considered. Content on hidden pages should not be included in this process.

Structured data mark up consists of 3 main elements and they are as follows:

Itemprop – specifies name, Url, review, etc.

Itemtype – indicates what types of items being noted

Itemscope – specifies HTML , in specific the item

TV shows, photos, movies, books, music and recipes are all noted as creative works.

It is also important to remember that properties can vary based on the type of content presented. In fact, because there is a huge number of properties that can be used to set-up structured data mark-ups, the process alone can be very intimidating at best. Fortunately, there are plug-ins that can be used for sites that use WordPress so it makes it a lot easier.

There are plugins for major e-commerce sites too. On the other hand, if the site owner is utilizing a bespoke CMS, its best to solicit the help of a qualified SEO consultant to assist with making these mark-up structured processes easier.

What to Expect After Adding Rich Snippets

Normally, when site owner decides to add Rich Snippets to their webpage, they may find that the work that they have done does not automatically appear. This is because Google will wait to see if the structured data markups have been done right.

In fact, they will not only analyze the markups themselves, but also assess them prior to displaying the richer results. This process normally takes about 10 to 14 days for this first phase. After which, if the structure data markups appear to be accurate, some of the pages will display the new snippets. This phase is about 5 days in length.

If no errors are discovered, in about 8 weeks, the web developer will begin to see semi-permanent rich snippets. It is very important to understand this process completely to prevent unnecessary delays.

Particularly, because when people do not know what Google is doing, they may begin to confuse the entire process by unnecessarily tweaking part of the work to see more results. So, one basic rule of thumb is to wait about 2 months to see full results.

Finally, before a site owner gets started, there’s still a few things that they should know. Starting with the fact that rich snippets have been implemented in the major search engines for over 2 years now.

However, the search engines are still adapting to these new changes. In order to get the best results possible, some of the snippets are not being shown, and the parameters for displaying will vary from time to time. For instance, the display of authorship has changed a number of different times since 2013.

Along with the assessments and evaluation of rich snippets, Google is also starting to penalize sites for a variety of different techniques. For example, if the information found in the snippets are misleading or contain other manipulative techniques, the site will be penalized.

Therefore, the site owner must become familiar with Google’s Rich Snippet Quality Guidelines.

In summary, if the approach that the site owner uses on their site is always ethical, there is no need to worry about unnecessary penalties only long-term gains.

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.

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