Last week the Google Research team unveiled a new feature in Google Search that improves upon the relevant and structured data results delivered to users. This new feature is known as Structured Snippets.
To break it down by components, let’s first define the meaning of “snippets” in this context for you. Snippets refers to the text that appears under a search result, the black ink below the blue ink, so to speak. The intention of snippets is to provide you with an indication of what is within the link delivered on the search engine results page (SERP) and why it is relevant to your query. Google wants to give you as much data on search results as possible before you make your decision to click-through and arrive at a relevant (hopefully) web page.
Rich snippets take things a step further by providing more detailed information, so that when you enter explicit search queries you truly arrive at the results you were looking for. Google uses an example of rich snippets for a music cd, which would list songs found on the cd along with links prompting users to play each. You may have seen advanced rich snippets in use for real estate as well. Over a year ago, more and more users searching for real estate in their locale reported being delivered tabular snippets of listings with addresses, prices, and other data on homes for sale. These search results were truly providing users with relevant data. Now, with the arrival of Structured Snippets, this sort of detailed table-based data delivery will become more prominent in search.
Let’s look at a more recent example. If you were to Google “Los Angeles real estate” on the day of this blog post (Sept 29) you will find the result pictured below. As you can see, Google has stepped things up a notch, detailing not only the addresses of homes for sale in Los Angeles, but open houses by date as they relate to the day the search was being performed. How relevant is it to provide searchers of Los Angeles real estate with open houses in a moderate price range for the week ahead? Very!
Google has provided their own example within their research blog announcing Structured Snippets. This example, referencing a detailed search for a new Nikon digital camera, is relevant to retailers and product affiliates.
As you can see, Google is providing very detailed information on the product. While many search results are delivering product information on this particular Nikon model, the site dpreview.com is being rewarded with Structured Snippets. One can only assume that the searcher would be more likely to click-through to this site for more details on the product because they can already see that the page has the exact information they were looking for. The next step in the search experience in this example would be to search for this model along with “price”, “for sale”, and retail “location” identifiers. A retailer/distributor/affiliate would of course hope that Google delivers their site along with Structured Snippets providing this data (w/their location where relevant, and price). So how can you as a business hope to become the recipient of Structured Snippets? Good question.
First of all, you will want to mark your site up with micro-data. The content on your website needs to be marked-up to help Google better understand the content on each page of your site. Microdata is a set of tags added to your site’s HTML (introduced with HTML5), that allows you or your developer to do so. This can all be accomplished by following the instructions here at schema.org.
But what it really comes down to is your site’s content. The Google Research team has stated that Structured Snippets is using algorithms to determine site content quality and relevance and that they will use this to display up to four highly ranked facts in the data tables that Structured Snippets delivers. Note the word facts.
“Facts” are indeed the angle, which is why you will see Structured Snippets display for many Wikipedia results. Businesses will want to ensure that product/service pages are created for products/services they offer, and to provide detailed data on each so that Google understands it as fact. That is why dpreview.com received Structured Data credibility and why redfin.com search results display open houses for Los Angeles real estate. There is no disputing the specifications of a camera model nor can one argue whether or not an open house is occurring – these are details that exist as actualities. Google is delivering these facts to searchers and so it is up to you as a site manager to make sure that product/service pages are optimized and structured to deliver them.
Google has by no means perfected this Structured Snippet process, stating that “Fact quality will vary across results based on page content, and we are continually enhancing the relevance and accuracy of the facts we identify and display.” All that you can do as a business to best capitalize on the Structured Snippets opportunity is to provide original, informative, and optimized content on product/service web pages and make sure that it is marked-up in the manner that Google understands.
Stay tuned for updates to Structured Snippets and all other moves Google makes to improve the user experience on SERPs by following this internet marketing blog daily.