Rich Snippets Now Easier to Implement

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    Ever wondered how you can make your organic search results stand out from the crowd? How do some companies manage to get their contact info, event listings, reviews or products to show in the Google search engine results pages (SERPs), while all your company gets is a measly title, description and URL listing? If you’ve always wondered but were sure it was too difficult to even begin to try to implement, then we have some good news for you so keep reading! Google has made it much easier in recent months to display rich snippets in the SERPs with their updated Structured Data features – including a handy ‘point and click’ Data Highlighter tool and Mark-up Helper and an increased range of data that Google can now recognise with the right markup implementation – including products, local businesses, articles, software applications, movies, restaurants and TV episodes.

    HTML Markup vs Google’s Data Highlighter Tool

    Although there is another, more complicated method you can use to help search engines recognise your rich snippet information (which involves editing the HTML code of various pages of your website), Google’s Structured Data Highlighter tool can get you the results in a much simpler way. While HTML markup gives you greater control over the marked-up content and lets other search engines, not just Google, understand the information you are trying to highlight, the Data Highlighter method can be used to much the same effect (for Google SERPs only) so long as you the pages on your website are laid out much the same (i.e. you use a similar template for all pages you want to markup). The Data Highlighter tool can even work to your greater advantage if you have a large number of product pages that you want to markup and you don’t have the time to edit the HTML code of each and every page.

    Why Use Structured Data Mark-up?

    In case you needed more convincing on the benefits of taking the time to implement structured data mark-up on your website, we’ve outlined the main technical SEO points to consider:

    • Structured Data Mark-up helps Google to understand exactly what the pages on your website are talking about. Instead of your website content just looking like a lot of text and code to the Google spiders, by using structured data mark-up you can highlight key pieces of information in a way that lets Google know exactly what you’re talking about, why the information is important, and how and to whom it should be displayed.
    • Armed with this information Google can use your marked-up information to create those ‘rich snippets’ in the SERPs. That’s the extra information it displays below your website’s organic listing, such as event dates and times, product info, contact info or review ratings.
    • Google can also use the marked-up information to display your information in other ways, such as in the knowledge graph panel that often shows up to the right on the SERPs (see image) or on one of their ‘Google Now’ cards.
    • While rich snippets and the knowledge graph won’t increase your website rankings in Google, they are a good way to increase traffic to your website, as users searching for your products can see more of your information in their search results, giving them more reason to click through to your website to find what they’re looking for.

    The Tools You’ll Need

    You can get started implementing structured data markup on your website today. The Data Highlighter tool can be used through your Google Webmaster Tools account – find it in the ‘Optimization’ section in the left hand navigation panel. Once you click into the tool you’ll be asked to input the URL of a typical template page of your website (e.g. a product page), and you can then follow the prompts to tag different sections of the page and indicate the type of markup you’d like to associate the sections with. Once you have completed the set-up, the changes won’t take effect until Google crawls your site again. In the meantime you can check that the implementation was successful using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

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