While rich snippets might sound like something you'd come away with in a smash-and-grab at your local check-cashing store, they’re actually an extremely valuable part of your business website.
Or at least they should be. Because, even though many marketers ignore rich snippets, they can do wonderful things for your search engine rankings and online marketing campaigns.
If you're wondering how, just turn to Google and search for any relatively popular topic. What you'll quickly notice is that some results have a little extra information – like pricing, author photos and bylines, or even recipe ingredients – that make them stand out. These extras come from rich snippets (code) inserted into your site.
It's not hard to see how rich snippets can do your web presence a world of good.
When they are properly in place and indexed by Google, they add extra indicators of relevancy to your content and make your pages stand out more visibly in search listings. So, they do double duty by simultaneously pushing your website higher in the rankings, and catching the eyes of searchers. Both of which help improve click through rates to your pages.
Although there are several rich snippets you could experiment with, we are going to focus our attention on the three that matter most to online marketers, authors and bloggers:
1. The Author Snippet (rel: author)
The value of an author snippet is pretty straight forward: It allows you to claim credit for your work, especially articles and blog posts, and connects your content with your Google+ profile. You have taken our earlier advice and set up a G+ profile, right? If not, you may want to get on that quickly. And while you are at it, ensure you have one for the company as well.
Just as importantly, having current, well-received & shared content can boost your Author Trust Rank (a signal to Google of popularity and content quality), which is becoming important if you want your content to be found. Additionally, if you want to build on a growing readership, and increase the clicks on your search results, adding an author rich snippet can allow Google to display your profile photo next to your content heading.
As we pointed out recently in a different post, there's no guarantee that Google will display your picture, or that they'll do it consistently from one posting to the next, but taking credit for your work is an important first step.
2. The Publisher Snippet (rel: publisher)
Sometimes, it doesn't make sense for a single author to claim ownership of a piece of content. It could be that a team of employees worked on your material collaboratively, or that the goal is to emphasize the brand, rather than any particular individual. In those cases, you should use a publisher snippet in coordination with the relevant author tags.
The larger your company is, the more important publisher tags become. Plus, there is some evidence to suggest that having snippet info displayed with content is more dependent on publishers than authors. If that turns out to be true, there is an interesting symbiotic process going on – publishers (in this case, usually websites and blogs) need good authors for strong content, while authors need trusted publishers to increase their own visibility and author ranks.
3. The Product Snippet (rel: product)
As you have probably guessed, the product snippet tells Google that the page in question contains something for sale. This can be incredibly valuable to online retailers, since Google can then allow searchers to view the products for comparison shopping, reviews, product photos, and even pricing or availability.
In some ways, that level of indexing from Google can be more valuable than any pay-per-click campaign ever could be. If you have something to sell on your website, make sure you're attaching the right rich snippets and making it easy for shoppers to find.
Just think what that could mean for book writers. Publisher snippet for your site, author snippet for your articles, and product snippets for your books. A nice little trio of ranking goodness that’s sure to enhance your online marketing efforts.
How to Put Rich Snippets to Work
Feeling ready to add rich snippets to your website? I'm glad. The good news is that rich snippets are fairly straightforward, and that you don't have to know a lot of HTML to integrate them into your business website.
The bad news is that there is still a very small technical learning curve involved, particularly because rich snippets can be formatted in a few different ways (Google prefers micro-data, and can usually pick up on a couple other options, such as schema, if you absolutely have to use them). As with anything you post to the web, it could take Google a while to pick up on the change and display your rich snippets in search engine results. But as they say, good things take time.
As with most things on your site, if you aren't sure you know how to add rich snippets into your business website, the best thing to do is work with an online marketing partner who understands how to use them to grow your business. No matter how you get them onto your site, though, be sure that you do add them soon – they add too much to your website's findability to be ignored.
In closing, Google recently reminded web masters that every page on your site isn’t likely going to be attributable to an individual author (unless you are a one-person shop), and that site-wide installation of the author code may not be appropriate and could even be punishable if done intentionally as an attempt to boost/influence author rank artificially. The correct solution would be to install rel:publisher site-wide, and rel:author on individual content pages.
If you have any questions about authorship or online marketing, please feel free to reach out to one of our team members now, or pop a note into the DISQUS commenting tool below. We’d love to hear from you.