What Are Rich Snippets & Schema Markups? How Do I Use Them?

by Scott Brandley | September 18, 2020

Today’s businesses largely rely on search results to attract customers and increase traffic. So how do you get your search results to stand out? As search engines evolve, it isn’t enough to simply target keywords and phrases.

Your company’s results need to be appealing and informative before customers will even consider clicking on it. One highly effective way to do that is by using rich snippets and schema markups. 

But what are rich snippets? What is schema markup? And how can they be helpful to you?

 

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What Are Rich Snippets?

Rich snippets are Google results that include additional data and information. Most search results will only include three pieces of information:

  1. Title tag
  2. Meta description
  3. URL

Google uses this information to give readers an idea of what the website will be about. This helps the reader determine if a specific result will give them the content they’re looking for.

Rich snippets, on the other hand, add more detail and useful information to a regular snippet. And rich snippets can be formatted to the type of content you produce, so it’s important to know what category of rich snippet you want to aim for.

  • Events: Results about upcoming events can give additional information, including the date, time, location, and ticket prices.
  • Music: For content about music, like the release of a single, a rich snippet can include the song length, the genre, who wrote it, and the day it was released.
    • Organizations: Google can display key information about an organization, including the logo, an address for its headquarters, the year it was founded, and contact information.
    • Product Page: If the searcher looks for a specific product, a rich snippet makes it easier to find its price and whether it is in stock both online and at a physical location.
  • Recipes: Rich snippets for recipes will give searchers an image of the food being made, the time it takes to prepare the dish, a list of ingredients, and the recipe’s average review score.
  • Reviews: Good for both individual products and businesses, reviews in a rich snippet can give searchers an easy first impression of the company by showing its aggregate 5-star review.
  • Top Stories: This type of rich snippet includes a “top stories” box that applies to news-related search queries. You can only access this rich snippet if your online publication is approved by Google News.
  • Video: Video rich snippets will help both readers and search engines better understand what your video is about. It will display data about who published the video, when it was made, and what video streaming service you will be directed to.

 

How Do You Get Rich Snippets?

Targeting rich snippets should always be a part of your SEO strategy. One study showed they can lead to a 516% increase in sessions, so it’s a great way to launch your content to the top of the search results page and increase your click-through rates.

But how do you target rich snippets? Google will extract information from your website to display the enticing information of a snippet. So, you need to know where to put that data so Google can easily find it. Here are six steps to get you started on targeting rich snippets.

1. Identify the Details Google Should Focus On

Using the categories we listed above, determine what tags, or HTML codes that highlight certain information to search engines, you need to include. Here are some examples of tags you can include:

  • Events: Event name, keynote speakers, schedule, dates, meeting times
  • Music: Song/record title, artist name, length, date of release, genre
    • Organizations: name, founder, current CEO, location, contact info
    • Product Page: Product names, aggregate ratings, prices, availability, images
  • Recipes: Recipe rating, level of difficulty, ingredients list, total calories, cooking time
  • Reviews: Aggregate review score or individual review and reviewer name
  • Top Stories: Article title, author, publish date, featured image, news topic
  • Video: Title, publication date, video length, genre

2. Use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to Define Your Webpage

Now that you’ve determined what tags to include on your webpage, how do you implement them? This part is a little complicated, as you need to create a structured dataset to get Google to recognize your tags and use them in a rich snippet.

Fortunately, Google made this part easy for businesses and developed the Structured Data Markup Helper. With this resource, you can select a topic that best describes the content you’re creating. Then add your active URL to properly tag your webpage.

3. Create the Right Microdata for Your Webpage

Microdata is what helps Google know where the important information on your website is. You do this by adding simple HTML tags to assign descriptive terms to bits of information.

You don’t have to be an HTML expert to implement your microdata in the right place. Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper will direct you through this process, allowing you to highlight certain parts of your web copy and assign the applicable meanings. For example, if you were optimizing a blog article, you could highlight the author, the publication date, and a featured image to start.

4. Create a New HTML

Once you’ve edited your HTML with all of the microdata on your webpage, continue on the Structured Data Markup Helper setup and click the “Create HTML” button. This will essentially save your changes and give you a fresh HTML code you can insert into your website.

5. Tag Your Content

To implement the new HTML into your content, you’ll need to manually add it to your webpage’s HTML code. This isn’t too complicated; you’ll have to go to your content management system and insert your new HTML code into the “Head HTML” box. From there, the HTML will assign all of the tags as you configured them in step three.

Test Your Rich Snippet

Now that all of your tags and microdata are in order, it’s time to test to make sure that everything works properly. Google created another tool that essentially does all the testing for you—the Structured Data Testing Tool. With it, you can insert your URL and see how your search result appears. If any information is missing in the rich snippet, you’ll know what you need to change.

 

What Is Schema Markup?

Schema markup is a kind of microdata found on schema.org, a website created from a collaborative effort between top search engines like Google, Yahoo, Yandex, and Bing. It is another way to create microdata for your rich snippet. And like the microdata you create using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper, schema markups help search engines read and understand important data on your webpage so it can give more context in your rich snippet. 

 

How to Add Schema Markup to Your Site

Schema markup is especially useful when you want to target a rich snippet across all search engines, not just Google. To do that, follow these four steps:

1.  Determine What Kind of Schema Markup You Need

Following the same methods you would take when creating a rich snippet, you must first decide what kind of content categories you need schema markups for. The same business types listed above (events, music organizations, product pages, recipes, reviews, top stories, and video) are applicable for schema markups as well.

 

For a full list of possible schema markups, visit Schema’s tag catalog.

2. Find the Right Code Layout for Your Markup

Schema.org will have the right code layout for any given markup. All you have to do is copy the microdata. Alternatively, you can create your own schema using a schema generator like https://jsonschema.net/.

3. Copy and Paste the Code to the Right Location

Rather than creating a new HTML code to simply copy and paste, you have to copy and paste the individual schemas into your existing HTML code. This will inform the search engine what the important words mean, and highlight things like the topic of the webpage or the author of the article. It may take a little trial and error when you insert schema markups for the first time, but don’t get discouraged.

4. Test Your Schema Markup

To be sure all of your schema code is in the right place, insert your webpage’s URL into Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

 

Improve Your Online Reputation

Above all else, rich snippets and schema markups will make your brand’s webpage look more reputable, improving your search rankings. Shopper Approved can augment that boost in your reputation with our reputation management services. We use online reviews to help companies highlight the quality of their brands. Contact Shopper Approved today to get more verified reviews.

Scott Brandley
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