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Google’s Rich Snippets, Meta Data and Schema unveiled

Posted by GMI Blogger Posted in Search Engine Optimisation,Search Marketing
April 4th, 2014 at 03:16pm

Looking good is an ongoing pursuit, for majority. Only exceptions could perhaps be new born babies who are in great shock soon after they arrive. Good looks attract & demand attention. Rulers of nations as well as ordinary people spend considerable time and money to look good. Good looks increases respect in addition to popularity and likability.HHSheikh-Mohammed-and-Princess-haya

Prime Minister Of UAE & Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum & Princess Haya – best dressed couple in the region. Always dressed perfectly for the occasion. Here they are visiting the racecourse at the Royal Ascot in England.

When Google was young, the search results page was simple as you can see from the first version of the page. But as the internet evolved, websites started having image video content. Because of the multiple types of web page content displayed in the search results page, the Google search results page is now know as the Universal search results page. Have a look at the Google Search results page of 2011 and that of 2014 – you can see the difference.

Google Search Result in 2011 and 2014

Google SERPs Result 2011 Google SERPs Result 2011 Google Search Reult 2014 Google SERPs Result 2014

By comparing the Google’s search results in 2011 and 2014, we can understand how the Google Search Results Page (SERP) has undergone a significant visual change over the years. The old Google interface has been transformed to a more engaging page with inclusion of video, images and ratings displayed.

Rich Snippets

The star ratings you see towards the bottom of the 2014 google search results page are called rich snippets. Rich Snippets are thus the the additional non text results contained within the search result. The search result page of 2014 shows the author images, videos, star ratings, news results, reviews and site extensions. Having the rich snippet has helped people like you and me – the internet users have a better idea of the type of content in a webpage even before choosing to click on any specific search result. Thus we have a better user experience.

Different Rich Snippets appearing in the Google Search Result

When you search for recipes, you may want to know about the nutritional value, the time taken to prepare the dish. But when you search for articles on a particular topic, people may want to know about the author before you decide to click on the particular search result & dive into it. Thus in this case the name and image of the author matters.

Thus there are different types of rich snippets.

Author Rich Snippet

Google Author SERPs Result

Recipe Rich Snippet

Google Recipe SERPs

Event Schema Rich Snippet

Events Rich Snippet

Music Event

Music Event Snippet

Movie Rich Snippet

Movie Rich Snippet

Music Rich Snippet

Music Rich Snippet

These are only some of the rich snippets. But you will agree that from the very appearance of a web page in the search listing, we get much information even before clicking on one of them. Hope you appreciate the concept of rich snippets! Among all the different rich snippets, the most visible ones are the ‘Author Tag’ and the ‘Recipe Snippet’.

Why Schema and Structured data are necessary?

The ultimate goal of any good search engine (e.g. Google) is to offer a better experience for its users (people like you and me). For this, the search engines need to understand, interpret and store the structured data from the websites into its own database. Many of the websites that we see today are developed over many years using different web development standards, languages and methodologies. As a result understanding and interpreting the webpage fully is not an easy task for the Search Engines. With millions of websites and billions of WebPages in the net, structuring the data is difficult for the Search Engines.

Schema is a frame work. Across web technologies with the adoption of Schema the standardization of the source code is done. This facilitates easy readability and interpretation by the Search engines. After the HTML source is edited incorporating the schema rules, the search engines such as Google, Bing and Yandex (Russian search engine) can read the structured data. This structured data can be used for improving the display of search results in the SERP.

3 methods for Rich Snippets Implementation

Basically there are three methods to add Rich Snippets to the website viz.

  • MicroData
  • MicroFormats
  • RDFa (Resource Description Framework in attributes)

We can modify the html source code according to the rules stated by any one of the above methods. It is similar to writing an exam with different colour ink pens. You are free to use any ink colour of your choice such as black, blue or brown. Whatever colour you use to write, your answer should be communicated to the teacher who evaluates it.

During the Rich Snippet implementation, when the code is modified as per an adopted standard, the web page HTML should inform the search engine about the individual elements in the underlying code.

Historically Google supported MicroData, MicroFormats and RDFa to improve their SERP listing. But now MicroData methodology has been given prominence over the other two.

MicroData Implementation Using Schema.org

MicroData Implementation (Schema.org) is one of the most widely accepted methods adopted by the webmasters for rich snippet implementation. MicroData works well with HTML5. It is elaborate and contains much more properties than the other two methods (MicroFormat and RDFa). It clearly defines properties spanning from large Organisations to a local Plumber. If you are Interested to know more about Schema please check the link http://www.schema.org/docs/full.html where all the different properties are listed.

Implementation Options for web masters

Even though the schema language is very long and elaborate, you do not have to study every aspect for its implementation. Depending upon your website, you need to implement only specific schema rules that is relevant to your website. If it is your Personal website, then you have to implement personal schema schema.org/Person. If you are the owner of an Event website, then the webpage has to follow the Event scheme schema.org/Event. Similarly for a recipe website it is schema.org/Recipe.

How to Test if your Rich Snippet Implementation is Correct?

After the necessary schema modifications are incorporated in your web pages, it should be tested to see how Google reads and interprets it. Google has provided its own Structured Data Testing tool where you can verify your code modifications.

Google Rich Snippet Testing Tool

Add the Url that you have changed in accordance with the schema guidelines for testing. Google will notify you if errors are found in the source code. This helps you rectify the errors and test it once again.

Short cut to correct implementations

On the structured data testing URL, you can even check other examples provided, so that you can figure out how the code has been implemented in other web pages

Rich Snippet Testing Tool Example

Also I would advise you to check the source code of the other websites where the rich snippets are showing correctly. This will give insights on proper Schema implementation.

Contact Us

If you are looking for Schema Implementation on your website and intend to partner with a Digital Marketing Agency, contact us. We have been serving the middle east region for over 14 years. For many blue chip Dubai clients, we are the preferred Digital Marketing Agency

Photograph courtesy

Zimbio.com Link :  Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum attend day two of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse

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