[Editorial Notes : This is Part I of a two-part series on exploring and implementing Rich Snippets. The goal of this two-part series is to help startups realize what a ‘rich snippet’ is, its importance, and what tools and resources can be used to implement it. In Part I, we take a look at how rich snippets can be useful and whether startup websites are using it to its full potential.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a ‘rich snippet’ is the extra text that appears underneath every search result. The rich snippet’s job is to provide users with more information about the link and why it is relevant to the query. Google is on a quest to organize the world’s information and rich snippets certainly help them with this goal. Rich snippets also put some structure into otherwise unstructured HTML data. However, there is an issue with this on-page mark-up practice that needs to be addressed: not many sites are actually using it to their advantage.
Consider this image that shows the search results when looking up Elementary, the TV show:
As you can see, the results for Elementary’s Wikipedia and IMDb pages show up higher in the rankings than the show’s official page on the CBS website. This is, in large result, thanks to the high quality rich snippets used for these pages. The snippets make these pages appear a lot more relevant to the TV show; even more than the show’s official page.
Despite the obvious benefit that rich snippets can offer, most websites continue to ignore it as a part of their on-page SEO process. For startups, this can be a particularly costly mistake. Rich snippets offer the opportunity to stand out from the startup crowd, and yet few companies are willing to grab it. We analysed 41 startups featured on NextBigWhat and found that 33 of them can implement rich snippets on their websites. None of these 33 sites make use of rich snippets. Check out a brief analysis of the 41 sites here (link).
Needless to say, this is a golden opportunity gone begging and startups need to start taking advantage of it. For example, consider hopscotch.in: There isn’t any rich snippet content on the site at present. Rich snippets should be implemented on all the products and physical address of company in order to maximize SEO benefits. To implement rich snippets we need to add few simple lines of markup to the existing HTML. An example of how to add rich snippet to products and the address of the company is given below:-
Rich snippets for Product [http://www.hopscotch.in/product/28230/ALEX]
<span =”name”>Piggy Ballerina Bank</span>
<div =”offers” =”http://schema.org/Offer”>
<span =”price”>Rs. 999</span>
Piggy Ballerina Bank
<span =”description”> This little piggy ballerina danced all the way to the bank!
Save coins and dollars in a piggy bank you decorated with sparkling hearts, sequin flowers and glitter and even a tutu!
A fun way to save and learn to count money!
Includes ceramic bank, tutu, sparkling hearts, sequin flowers, glitter glue and easy instructions.
Rich Snippets For Address
<div =”address” =”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>
Call on <span =”telephone”>+022 6196 7102</span>
E-mail us at <span =”email”> email@example.com</span>
<span =”streetAddress”> Mahalaxmi Industrial Estate Gala # 19</span>,
<span =”addressLocality”> Opposite Gandhi Nagar, Dainik Shivner Marg</span>,
<span =”addressRegion”> Lower Parel (W), Mumbai </span>
<span =”postalCode”>400 013</span>
As evident from this example, it is easy to see how incorporating rich snippets does not have to be a massive challenge, but can yield excellent results for a website’s on-page SEO efforts.
Like any other SEO technique, it is possible to exploit this feature and generate a lot of spam. Thankfully, Google has started cracking down on websites that create spam by misusing rich snippets. The quality of the rich snippet is not only crucial for helping to determine how relevant the webpage is, but also to avoid getting tagged as spam.
As things stand right now, most Indian startups are missing out on the advantages offered by incorporating rich snippets into their webpages. Hopefully, this is something that the startup community will be looking to rectify soon.
In Part II, we will take a look at the tools and resources can be used to implement rich snippets effectively.
[Guest article by Jitendra Agrawal, CTO at WebSmith Technologies Pvt. Ltd. You can follow him on twitter @jiten]