Why Snippets Matter in SEO


Your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is a complex one—and it’s easy to forget about rich snippets. These are the text lines you notice underneath the heading of search results. However, there was a change at the end of 2014 to focus on both rich snippets and “structured snippets”. Now, people enjoy a format that’s more fact driven for some queries (not all). Of course, it’s Google’s goal to give their users the best web experience possible, and for snippets that means getting key information before ever clicking on a link.

Google Research teamed up with WebTables to optimize the snippets. It’s already changing how users are finding things online, but it means a big change for your SEO, too. First, consider this: Both “structured snippets” and “rich snippets” still exist, and they’re not the same thing. All snippets are rich snippets, and “structured snippets” are a sub-category of rich snippets. Structured snippets aren’t applicable to every search.

Get “Rich” Quick

The purpose of rich snippets is to optimize the results page so that users have a little more information about their search results. For example, let’s say somebody queried “Frozen movie”. They’ll get a bunch of results which might include synopses, reviews, options to buy the DVD, and the like. Before users click on any link, rich snippets give them basic information so they can figure out if they’re clicking on a review or a synopsis.

Rich snippets are created from data that’s specially formatted on your website—and Google even helps you build it. The type of “rich snippet support” Google offers includes video content, product specs, business information, reviews, recipes, and information on people. However, structured snippets provide information from aggregated results. Meta data can be completely ignored with structured snippets, and Google might dish up information like the movie’s release date, the director, etc. via information that’s readily available online.

What about My Click Through Rates?

How are structured snippets going to impact your click through rate or CTR? You’ll probably notice a difference with your organic traffic, but all those other factors will stay the same. In the end, don’t worry about it impacting the bottom line. Having more information on search result pages is a good thing for everyone involved. After all, if a person is searching for a specific product, they’re probably going to buy it from you if you have a good SEO ranking and competitive price regardless of whether they find that out by clicking through your site or if the information they need is right there on the search engine results page (SERP).

However, what you do need to worry about is ensuring your snippets are correct. There are big differences between rich and structured. Rich snippets demand that you structure your data so that Google can read it, and structured snippets are automatically pulled from your site. In other words, it’s a lot easier for you to manage your rich snippets, so get cracking.

What You Can Do

Focus on rich snippet management first. Google recommends selecting a markup format (there are three available). Microdata is the most common and highly recommended, but you might be a better match for RDFa or Microformat. An SEO agency can help you pinpoint which is best. Next, apply the markup format. Finally, test, test, test. A simple coding error or bad formatting can mess everything up. You can test for free with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

Want to manage your structured snippets? Simply write content that’s accurate. Google’s algorithm will crawl over the content and cherry pick what’s most relevant. You can’t directly control this, but you can definitely give Google bots the information they need.

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