Improving search engine performance with Rich Snippets

Many search engine results are now appearing with extra information, such as reviews, additional page / product links, information about who wrote a page or article etc etc. These changes are as a result of the use of rich snippets, which is a small amount of additional code in your web pages that improves the display of search results and makes it easier for people to find the web content most relevant to them.

Here’s a couple of examples to show you what we mean..

We took a film search by way of example – Our search in Google was for “Goodfellas

 

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You can see from the results page that IMDb are using rich snippets to display review / rating information in their search results. The enhanced listing is useful to the searcher as it provides additional information to the search. The aim is to improve conversion rates / click through from your search engine results. It is an inexpensive way of improving your search engine traffic without doing lots of work to improve your page rankings.

It is a widely held belief that click through rates do play a part in Google’s ranking systems, so by making your search result more appealing / more visible to a searcher, you could also as a result be improving your overall page ranking, simply because a greater proportion of people are clicking on your link than would do otherwise.

In another example here, a quick search for gigs in Birmingham returned this result

 

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The 3rd result for Skiddle, gives us whats on listings directly into the search results and provides a much more compelling result than the position 1 “Birmingham gigs guide”. It’s good branding, good user experience and brilliant for click through conversion.

There are several ways to use rich snippets, the most popular being reviews and ratings, product information, business / organisation information (think phone numbers, opening hours etc), people and so on. It is extremely unlikely that a snippet relevant to your business can’t be generated to provide better results for your visitors.

What are the advantages of my search engine listings having rich snippets?

Standing out against your competition – Unless your business or offering is completely unique, chances are you’re going to be fighting it out with other listings on a search engine results page. When your listings have the added rich snippets features they will stand out more. This will definitely increase the clicks your search listings receive and long-term will improve your SEO efforts by increasing rankings and overall traffic. Most report data available suggests an increase in conversion of between 25 & 40%. That kind of improvement can mean hundreds, or thousands of extra visitors coming to your web site at very little cost

Help Search Engines Properly Understand and Value your Content – The use of structured data improves content relevancy for search engines. If you are already using Google places, you’ll have seen how this can affect local traffic with the availability of so much extra information direct from the search results. You will also get better quality visitors since the visitors will have more information about your page before they click on your link. Using a telephone number in your search results for example, can reduce the amount of 1 page traffic your site receives and a call can convert direct from the search engine results page. The traffic that makes it to your site will be better qualified and more certain that they have “come to the right place”. Not only is this better for the user, it also helps us to have a deeper understanding of those users and how they are interacting with your web site.

How do I get rich snippets on my search listings?

It is simply a case of adding some extra code to your web pages. Each page “template” will have a few lines of HTML added to tell the search engines what to show in their results. You’ll probably want to consider different snippets for different types of pages on your web site. For example, somebody searching for a planning company in Birmingham might be more likely to click through on a listing showing a photo, job title and contact details of a managing partner in the office, but that level of personnel detail may not be as relevant to somebody looking for experience in a particular sector of expertise.

Will this not happen automatically?

No, unfortunately it’s something that we have to do to your web pages. We have to tell the search engines what it is that you’d like to tell people about you before they get to your web site The rich snippets code tells the search engine “robots” which part of your content; is the name of the product / service, its rating, its price, who made it and any number of other useful things.

Once the changes to the code have been made and tested, it should take a few weeks for the changes to appear in the search results pages on Google, Bing and Yahoo. There’s no guarantee that the snippets will be used, but there’s no reason for them not to be as all of the search engines are striving to make results as relevant as possible.

Can you help with this even if you didn’t build our web site?

Yes of course – as long as we can access your web pages to amend them. We can also provide advice to you / your web developers about proper implementation if that is useful.

For more information on rich snippets and conversion optimisation, call Karl Baxter on 0121 616 0098 for an informal chat.