Google introduced Rich Snippets back in 2009, but went rather unnoticed by most webmasters until recently. Rich Snippets are based on a collaborative effort between Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! called Schema.org, and are hidden tags in your HTML code (similar to META tags) that tell search engines more about the content on your page so they can return more informative results.
When your pages show up with snippet content on search results, it can vastly increase click-through rates since your listings are more visible and show the searcher that you have what they are looking for.
While Google and other search engines can read text and see images on your website, they really don't have any idea of the context. Consider a product page on an ecommerce site - if you were Google's web-crawler looking at 1000 lines of HTML, how would you know for sure what the product name, price, SKU, review rating, etc. was on a given page? Or, of all the images on that page, which is the main product image? Sure, Google could take a fairly good guess, but Rich Snippets help search engines identify exactly what the page is about, what images are most important, and what details are the most important out of all the content it sees. Typically, you "wrap" content with the invisible tags, something like:
<div itemscope itemtype="http://data-vocabulary.org/Product">
<span itemprop="brand">ACME</span> <span itemprop="name">Executive Anvil</span>
<img itemprop="image" src="anvil_executive.jpg" />
In this example, the "itemprop" code tells search engines on a product page what the brand, product name, and main image are.
Rich Snippets aren't just for ecommerce sites - Google recognizes snippets for lots of different content:
- Businesses and organizations
You can find out a lot more about Rich Snippets and what they can do for you on this page or watch the video below.
The implementation of Rich Snippets is a bit technical, and if you have a dynamic site (like an ecommerce store), sometimes getting the right format can be tricky. Of course, we can always help. Contact us for a quote on implementing Rich Snippets on your website.