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Rich Snippets and Structured Data Explained

Search is on the brink of a major transformation and one of the biggest changes we are seeing right now involves the way we see search results. For example, have you ever noticed stars next to results? How about images? Google Plus profiles? Videos?


For a long time, search results were nothing but a sea of text, but now they don‘t have to be – website owners have the opportunity to make their search results stand out from the crowd.




Rich snippets and structured data.


What are rich snippets?


The rich snippet is a type of on-page markup that effects search engine listing appearance. Rich snippets might be used to add star ratings to results, images next to results, products next to results, events next to results, plus much more. The aim of the rich snippet is to give Google a better idea of what a page is about so that they can then offer searchers valuable information in the search results.


The benefit of integrating a rich snippet on a web page for the webmaster is that there is a possibility that the search listing will stand out from a regular one and get more clicks, if Google chooses to show that rich snippet, of course.


Google will show any rich snippet so long as it benefits a search query.


What is structured data?


Structured data is how you create a rich snippet. Microdata, Microformats, or RDFa data can be integrated onto web pages to help Google understand the content on your pages. It is from that understanding that rich snippets can be created and implemented by Google in the search results.


Google has a structured data testing tool you can use to see how web pages will show in the search results. At the moment, the only rich snippets Google supports are reviews, people, products, businesses and organisations, recipes, events, and music, but in the future it is likely they will support opening/closing times, prices for services, etc.


Due to this, it‘s important to understand how to create structured data that works with those snippets.


What are the big benefits of using rich snippets and structured data?


There are two big benefits. These are:


– A rich snippet result will have more search engine real estate


Your search result will be alongside millions of others. Rich snippets will help it to stand out.


– A rich snippet result will get more qualified traffic


Anything that helps you stand out is going to result in more clicks and search engine traffic.


Further reading


Google has published their own guide about rich snippets and structured data. This is a straight-forward guide about the types of data you can use and how Google will use it.


Search Engine Land published a how-to guide on rich snippets and structured markup for SEO.


Search Engine Watch covered a story earlier this year about Google penalising websites for rich snippet spam.




Rich Snippets and structured data are a very real way to spruce up search engine listings. Use them to your advantage and help Google to better understand your web pages.

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