What is a Rich Snippet?

I can see some raised eyebrows and perplexed expressions. What is a rich snippet? And how can it help search engine optimisation?

it’s small, but it’s MIGHTY!

Cast your mind to what a page of search results in Google.co.nz looks like on your screen. The main section shows Google’s natural search results (also called organic results, or sometimes referred to as ‘SEO results’), with underlined headings, URLs (website addresses) and company descriptions. However, you might also have noticed that sometimes, extra information about a company listed in the main results sometimes appears, including a logo, picture or product ratings. Hooray ! …  that is the rich snippet!

Go to Google now, type in “meatloaf recipes” and you will likely see a result for allrecipes.com as shown below. The product image shows in the result, as well as a product rating from customers of 4.5/5, and it also shows the meatloaf recipe has had over 2,372 reviews. All this information is referred to as a ‘rich snippet’.

example rich snippet in google for meatloaf recipes new zealand

How can a rich snippet help SEO?
Although they were introduced a few years ago, the potential of rich snippets by New Zealand businesses hasn’t actually been fully utilised. Yet, we are all instinctivel drawn to pictures more than text, and it has been demonstrated that websites with rich snippets get a higher click-through rate from their search results than those without. Which means more website traffic, and a greater chance for you to sell product or services.

So if you would like to get on board and improve your SEO results, click through rates and traffic to your website, then here are some examples and ideas to create successful rich snippets for your website:

Photos
We seem to be attracted to people’s faces more than any other type of pictures, and this may explain why Google Authorship photos and pictures from Google+ profiles are so widely used in rich snippets. Adding a face to a company transforms it from another anonymous business to a person and chances are that people will be more inclined to visit your website – provided that person’s picture looks friendly of course!

Here is an example of a photo as a rich snippet (Kyle is a mate of mine, he’s an Auckland-based Psychotherapist and well-known New Zealand blogger). Wouldn’t you be more inclined to click on this search result if you were looking for his services? Seeing his face makes you far more likely to click – it’s a proven fact (yes – even with a face like his!).

Example of Google Authorshoip Rich Snippet

Product Reviews and Ratings
Peer reviews have a phenomenal influence on what we buy and can make or break a reputation. Guiding potential customers towards popular items and steering them away from disappointing ones, they are a powerful website marketing and sales tool and also contribute to reducing customer’s dissatisfaction with poor products, which they would inevitably associate with your company, as well as providing you with invaluable feedback.

In addition to the commercial value of product reviews, they also make fantastic rich snippets: if a visitor clicks through to read more about a product, they are more likely to purchase it from you than from a competitor, since they are already on your website and are engaged.

Here is an example of product reviews rich snippets:

All Recipes.com - Rich Snippets Example

Events
Certain types of businesses will greatly benefit from this feature as it allows them to display details of temporary events that could otherwise go unnoticed, and can potentially make new customers discover you as they search online for something special to do.

Theme nights at a restaurant, live music at a bar, new shows, movie times, upcoming concerts etc, are all suitable events to promote as rich snippets. Although rich snippets are not meant to be used as an online advertisement, they will still perform the same function and will get your name “out there” – for free, even better! So if an exciting new band is playing a gig at your venue, a rich snippet will be the ideal medium to create some hype and market your website more effectively.

Here’s an example of an event rich based snippet for gigs coming up at the Powerstation (in Auckland, Mt Eden – the home of rock):

Events Rich Snippet Example Powerstation Gigs

If you are considering using rich snippets as part of your online marketing arsenal – and you should! – just remember that they are supposed to be informative (so don’t use them to display ads and special offers, use your social media accounts instead for that).

Right, I’m off to see Snoop Lion …