Snippets are the lines of black text that accompany every search result listing. They describe the page’s relevance to the phrase that the searcher used as his search query, with the words that match the query shown in bold as shown below. A Google search result listing for “born dinah loafers” with the rich snippet outlined in red. Rich snippets are additional pieces of information that the search engine is able to identify on the page, used to enhance the searcher’s understanding of the value of that page. Ratings, pricing, and availability are commonly seen in ecommerce rich snippets. Search engines provide rich snippets not to play favorites with one page over another, but to enable searchers to make a more educated click decision and improve the likelihood that searchers will choose a page that satisfies their need.
All ecommerce sites can take advantage of at least one form of rich snippet: Products and offers. If you have something to sell and a published price, you can put rich snippets to work for your site. The markup code that helps search engines classify the information for rich snippets can be easily inserted into your page templates so that the code appears on every relevant page on the site. Think of rich snippets this way: Standing out in the crowded landscape of a search results page is similar to making the best impression in a field of ten candidates for a job. All ten candidates are qualified for the job and have worked hard to distinguish themselves. But out of that top handful of candidates, only one will be chosen. The candidate that wins the position has something special that distinguishes him from the pack.
It’s the same with search results: The page that wins the searcher’s click will be the one that distinguishes itself from the pack of ten blue links and various paid ads filling the search results page. In the crowded ecommerce field, where even commerce-free informational sites are competitors, rich snippets can win you eyeballs, clicks and sales. If you don’t win the click, you can’t make the sale. But if you don’t get noticed, you can’t win the click. Ecommerce sites need to take advantage of every option to entice searchers to click on their page instead of a competitor’s. Rich snippets enable sites to embellish their search results with add-ons like ratings and photos, which draw the searcher’s eye as well as offering additional information.
With so many paid ads, image results, and other visually stimulating elements vying for attention on the search results page, rich snippets can be that special something that draws the eye and wins the click. Here are 3 ways you might not be knowing to use rich snippets:
Displaying Single Price Range
Customers like choices – so providing them with the ability to select from multiple options or configurations each with a unique price can significantly improve conversions. The search engines may equip your search results with a price range block, so your potential customers can estimate how much they may spend on a website. To help the search engines identify the lowest and the highest value of the price properties, mark-up a multiple-product page with the Schema.Org Offer entities. After identifying the product name, a variety of other attributes can be marked up as well, including price and availability. If your products are commonly searched for by SKU numbers, make sure to mark up the SKU in your product pages using the “identifier” property.
If the product is on sale for a limited time, you can use the property “price Valid Until” to drive a sense of urgency. If the product is unique and only a limited number available, you can also use the “quantity” property. The Product markup type also includes the ability to mark up a product photo, but I’ve only seen Bing use product photos in traditional search results (see below). Still, every product on your site has a photo already. Why not mark up that photo for Bing’s search results with the possibility that it will be used in Google at some point?
They Don’t Affect Rankings
Though it has been hinted that structured markup might one day factor into its ranking algorithm, Google has made it clear that rich snippets currently do not affect site rankings. However, while structured data markup for rich snippets does not work as a ranking signal, it can generate indirect SEO benefits by making your page more easily indexable and providing more accurate and targeted metadata. On-page behavioral data – click-through rate, bounce rate, time on site and so forth is believed to have an impact on rankings — so the more qualified, targeted traffic you get, the better. In other words, higher user engagement with your pages may lead to higher rankings, and therefore more traffic, in a virtuous circle of SEO success.
Rich snippets help you achieve this by pre-qualifying visitors. If my Google search leads me to a SERP with listings that just offer the bare minimum of information, I won’t know whether any given listing matches what I actually want until I click through. When I visit a site, then realize it’s not relevant and bounce, I’m not pleased. I’m back to search again, so Google’s not pleased, either. And the site I visited now has worse on-site behavior stats because I bounced back to the SERP. No one is well served by this model. With rich snippets, your visitors know what you do and can even see social proof like reviews right in the snippet. E-commerce sites, blogs, entertainment sites and others can use rich snippets to pre-qualify traffic, improve the way they serve their users and earn themselves indirect SEO benefits at the same time.
Google Can Disable Them Too
Google loves structured data — so much so that it makes a concerted effort to protect its integrity: We perform algorithmic and manual quality checks to ensure that structured data meets relevancy standards. In cases where we see structured data that does not comply with these standards, we reserve the right to disable rich snippets for a site in order to maintain a high-quality search experience for our users. Again, Google is pretty clear about where it stands: Not only will they disable rich snippets created by spammy structured data markup, they might also hit your site with a manual penalty. So, how do you avoid this? Ensure that you’re using the appropriate type of structured data markup for your content type.
Google displays different rich snippet formats depending on your page content. Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool will show you whether you’re using the right code for your page and give you hints and tips on how to deploy it to better effect. After that, it’s a question of looking at it from your users’ viewpoint. If you’re using rich snippets to enhance the search experience and pre-qualify traffic, then you should be fine — assuming you don’t slip up technically. If you’re using it as a new place to keyword-stuff, you’re headed for a fall.