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April 13, 2016

How to implement rich snippets (and why you should)

Get clearer, more transparent and more noticeable search listings by sign-posting rich content elements

Rich snippets are used to describe structured data markup. That may not sound very exciting, but they’re a really useful SEO tool. Implementing rich snippets can help search engines understand the information contained on your web pages, acting as a sign-post that explains what a user can expect.

That means visitors have a clearer idea of what to expect after they click, which should drive up the quality of traffic to your site and drive down the bounce rate. Studies have shown that companies with rich snippets experience a 30-40% higher click-through rate.

While rich snippets don’t in themselves contribute to search rankings, the positive effect they can have on click-through rates and bounce rates can indirectly lead to a stronger ranking. As your pages start attracting more organic traffic than results positioned above them, Google will start to inch you up the ranking.

You can add all sorts of extra details from images to reviews, star ratings, descriptions, profiles, contact details, location and even nutritional information for recipes

The different types of rich snippet

Rich snippets allow you to bring content elements right into your search listings, helping them stand out. Snippets with photos can help you cut through visually. Snippets showcasing user reviews emphasise that you have interactive pages with independent UGC voice, giving you a potential edge over similar sites that only carry commercial product descriptions.

And those are just two examples. You can add rich snippets to a range of content types, including people, products, businesses, recipes, videos, music and events. You can add all sorts of extra details from images to reviews, star ratings, descriptions, profiles, contact details, location and even nutritional information for recipes.

Tools to make rich snippets easier

Before implementing rich snippets, use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. This will show you how Google interprets your content and therefore where you can improve it. If you have a high volume of pages on your website, it’s worth checking which have the highest ranking and implementing rich snippets on those first.

Screenshot: Google's Structured Data Tool

Once you’ve decided which pages to prioritise, there are a couple of easy tools you can use to create rich snippets. The first is Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper, which you can find in the Google Search Console. It uses a simple point-and-click interface to help you add snippets to add to a specified web page. Currently, you can add information on articles, events, book reviews, products, movies, local businesses, restaurants and software applications. The new snippet will appear instantly in searches.

The second tool is Schema’s Schema-Creator platform. Schema was established by Google and other search engines to create an industry standard for structured data. However, the ‘language’ can be hard to grasp, so the Schema Creator tool offers an easier route to add rich snippets to your site. Here you simply enter the information required for markup, such as details of a product, person or event. Then you get a ready-made schema which can be copied and pasted into the code of your site.

With rich snippets in your corner you’ll have clearer, more transparent and more noticeable search listings – and if your content delivers on what they promise, you should see the benefits start to roll in.

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