The Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) are getting crowded. Thanks to product listing ads, videos, images, and social media results crowding out the traditional organic results, it’s more important than ever to help your pages stand out from the crowd.
Enter Rich Snippets.
Rich Snippets are the result of properly implemented structured data markup. By marking up your page data, you show the search engines – and enable them to show users – some of the most important information on your pages. For a product, this could be customer ratings and reviews, the price and/or available sizes. For a recipe, you might include reviews, cook time or even calories per serving.
You’ve likely seen Rich Snippets in the SERPs before.
Each result outlined in red above is the result of structured data markup. It takes what could be a so-so page result and turns it into a one-man band – you can’t help but notice it.
How to Leverage Rich Snippets
Here’s where it gets complicated. There’s likely no switch to flick, no easy on or off button inside your CMS that will allow you to implement structured data. (Not yet anyway.) (But this might be a good thing – if it was easy, everyone would do it, and if everyone did it, the SERPs would turn in to a casino – every result a bleating, blinking slot machine competing for the user’s attention.)
To implement structured data you will need:
- A Developer
- A method to mark structured data such as schema.org, the encyclopedia of structured data markup.
For example, if you wanted to achieve the Rich Snippets from the pumpkin pie recipe result above, you would reference a recipe schema from schema.org/recipe, and then add the following characteristics to your code:
- For the image – thumbnailUrl
- For the starred rating – reviewRating
- For the rating – aggregateRating
- For the cook time – cookTime
- For the calories – NutritionInformation → calories
There are examples on schema.org your developer can use to properly mark up your data using this language.
If you have more structured data, such as cooking method, servings, ingredients, etc., we recommend that you mark those up. Because you never know which data the search engines will pull and deliver as Rich Snippets, the more data you’ve marked up, the more data the search engines have to pull from.
If you don’t have a developer, or ready access to yours, you can use the Data Highlighter tool within Google’s Webmaster Tools to show at least one search engine (Google) your pages’ most pertinent information. This isn’t the same as hard-coding your site with structured data, but if you don’t have a developer and want to give structured data a whirl, this is your best option.
A Few Caveats
It’s important to note that even perfectly implemented structured data won’t necessarily show up as Rich Snippets in the SERPs. This is because the search engines have the final say as to precisely what they will show to users.
Still, when every click counts, it’s a good idea to do whatever you can to stand out from the crowd.