Do You Think You Understand Rich Snippets in Google?

Darren Franks - September 30, 2010

As you may know, Rich Snippets in Google are a way to serve enhanced data in the “snippet” portion for a site’s organic listing in the SERPs. With just basic HTML knowledge, you can add enhanced data to your organic listings, such as event dates, reviews and customer ratings. This is a great way to entice the user to click on the link to your site and not have to necessarily rely on the automated text-based snippet that Google may pull from the description meta tag, page content or from DMOZ.

What are the real SEO benefits of the Rich Snippets? User experience is one thing, but what are the direct ranking benefits of incorporating them if a regular description served up in the SERPs will suffice? Google is able to interpret the information much better when a site is utilizing the Rich Snippet’s markup language (microformats and RDFas). Microformats and RDFAs are instructions in the code of a webpage to describe a specific type of information (reviews, products, events or a person).

Known as “semantic markup”, this technology tags different parts of the page with code that “explains” to the computer what the data is referring to. A search engine may be able to “see” the instructions for making chocolate brownies on a page, but the semantic markup will be able to explain to the search engine what the data is referring to, and the relationship between different parts of the data.    

Here is an example of a site using code to generate a Rich Snippet in Google:

Rich Snippet

While there are several types of microformats, Google currently only supports 6 major ones. Those are:

  1. hcard — for marking up business card or profile information
  2. hReview — for dealing with individual user reviews
  3. hReview-aggregate — basically a summary of hReviews
  4. hProduct — for marking up products, prices, and all things e-commerce
  5. hCalendar — pretty self explanatory, dates and appointments
  6. hRecipe — also pretty explanatory. Recipes and ingredients
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