It really does surprise me, how many website owners still don't bother with rich snippets. They have been around since May 2009 and when used correctly, can significantly increase traffic to your website.
What Exactly is a Rich Snippet?
Well, lets start by looking at a standard snippet:
You no doubt see these snippets hundreds of times every day. They appear in search results, and provide the searcher with small sample of the website content, for that particular result.
I think the ‘shop window' analogy is a great way to explain snippets. Searchers are the people walking past in the high street, they can look in and get a good idea about what's inside, before deciding whether or not to enter the shop.
Now, rich snippets are just normal snippets, but with extra information:
I've highlighted 3 pieces of extra information being displayed by this particular rich snippet: The author's name, and author's image, and how many people have this handsome chap in their Google+ circles.
Here's Jeremy from the Google search team describing rich snippets:
Why Use Rich Snippets?
The short answer: to increase traffic to your website! By providing more information in your snippet, your search results will stand out more against the competition. They will also benefit users by giving them a better idea on what your website provides. If you offer great value and quality content, rich snippets should increase your CTR (click-through-rate) and attract a higher quality visitor (as the users will have a better idea of your page before clicking the link).
The Different Types of Rich Snippets
The above example is just one of many types of rich snippet available. Google currently supports the following types of rich snippet:
- Businesses and Organisations
Review rich snippets provide a star rating of a particular product or service, together with the name of the reviewer.
Each person can have different properties, such as a name, job title and address.
If you run an online shop, you can provide search engines with product information. This can include prices, availability and reviews.
Businesses and Organisations
High street business such as restaurants or shops can leverage business and organisation rich snippets. This can provide location data to search results, and can also be displayed on a place page.
Recipe rich snippets provide additional information such as cooking time, author, ratings and an image of the dish.
Information such as the event dates, venues and titles can be displayed in an event rich snippet.
Music rich snippets display track listings, track length, album names, and track names.
How to Implement Rich Snippets?
It only takes a couple of minutes to implement and test rich snippets on your site. There's a detailed guide on Google's support site, but basically you just need to add a few lines of code to your website.
First you need to choose the format: either Microdata, Microformats or RDFa. Then just add the necessary mark up to your page. This example adds review mark up using the Microdata format:
What Are You Waiting For?
So there you have it! You now have no excuses, add relevant mark up to your web pages to better show off your great content in the search results and increase your CTR. Have a good read of schema.org for more info.