Google’s most recent Webmaster Central Blog post, entitled Better page titles in search results covers the basics of how page titles and descriptions (called snippets) are generated.
A few things to note:
In the New Year, Webmasters should take note that Google has updated their Site title and description page (including an eight minute video of Matt Cutts discussing optimizing websites for Google and snippets). This page also offers a solution for Webmasters frustrated with titles and descriptions they did not write appearing in search engine results pages (SERPs). If you have found that your titles or descriptions appearing in SERPs are sourced from the Open Directory Project (ODP), or DMOZ, there is a solution!
The following code, inserted in the head section of your code, will tell all robots not to display information from the ODP with regard to your snippets.
If you are only having an issue with Google displaying ODP data, use the following code:
Please note that this code will need to be crawled by the robots before you may see a change in the SERPs.
If you are unfamiliar with the ODP / DMOZ:
The Open Directory Project (http://www.dmoz.org) is a human-edited directory of the Web that is maintained by a global community of volunteer editors and is touted as the most comprehensive directory out there. There is no cost to submit your site to the ODP.
Our previous blog post, Rich Snippets & Schema.org: Part I, compared snippets to Rich Snippets and touched on the foundation of Schema.org. Not only can implementing the suggestions of Schema.org increase your click through rate on the search engine results for your website pages, but a visitor delivered to your webpage from a Rich Snippet is more informed about the content on your page and has just made a decision to visit your content. This is the perfect opportunity to test your conversion rates and start (or ramp up) on-site testing.
By updating your website’s code to allow for Rich Snippets, you are able to partially control what can be shown in the major search engines in regard to results that include pages on your website.
The previous post showed an example for a recipe site:
The above All Reciples Rich Snippet shows a star rating, review count, time to cook, and calorie count to searchers looking for a pumpkin pie recipe.
This is only one way in which Rich Snippets could be optimized, another is the Event Schema. The following example shows a Rich Snippet including Katy Perry show dates and locations available through Ticketmaster for a search of “Katy Perry Ticketmaster”:
A searcher is thankful they don’t have to click through the Ticketmaster website or do an additional on-site search, assuming they are looking to click through directly to one of the upcoming displayed shows.
IMDB has updating their code so that their Rich Snippets feature a rating of each movie. The below Rich Snippet is for The Muppets 2011 movie (also being released over Thanksgiving, I assume the reviews are from pre-showings).
And interestingly, both the Android Marketplace and Apple’s App Store have updated their code so that their Rich Snippets display the votes for each app as well as a price.
Depending on your business, the above examples may seem more or less relevant; however, Schema.org is gaining momentum as more webmasters become familiar with the available types and more searchers enjoy the extra information in their searches.
Schema.org provides commonly used formatting types for Restaurants, Local Businesses, Products, Reviews, Organizations, Events, Creative Works, Recipes, and many more. As Search Engine Optimization professionals, we recognize the opportunity available to businesses today with the open communication created through Schema.org. The search engines have given businesses a way to tell them what information could be added to search engine results pages to make them better for everyone. The search engine, the searchers, and your business all benefit from the openness and availability of this information.
“Snippet” refers to the grouping of content related to one search result on a search engine result page. A traditional snippet contains three sections:
As search evolved, new ways of displaying search snippets surfaced. “Rich Snippets” were introduced on May 12th, 2009 in the Google Webmaster Blog post entitled “Introducing Rich Snippets.” This blog post explained the fundamentals of Rich Snippets which very simply is, by adding markup formats (such as microformats) — some extra code for the non-technical readers — Google and other search engines can “see” extra data about your webpage that may be interesting to a searcher when viewing your snippet; the search engine can then pull that identified content and display it with that snippet.
By adding some additional code, everyone wins. Searchers using the search engines find more information about what they want, search engines are happy that their users are happy, and your business benefits from more traffic as more searchers click on your enhanced snippets (Rich Snippets).
The following example, in excitement for Thanksgiving, is the search engine results page for the Google query “Pumpkin Pie.” As you can see, All Recipes is using markup formats in their code so that their Rich Snippet displays their recipe’s image, star rating, review count, time to make, and calorie count. One ranking above it, PickYourOwn.org is not using any additional markup and shows as a regular snippet. Which result would you choose?
What is Schema.org?
Rich Snippets are wonderful, but each search engine chose to read markup formats differently, that is, until Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Yandex (the largest search engine in Russia) banded together and made a website filled with schemas that each search engine taking part would recognize. Webmasters can use the agreed upon markup formats on their pages to provide searchers Rich Snippets. That website is Schema.org, founded in June 2011.