What are ‘Rich Snippets’
Ok, so today’s post is a bit meaty (TL:DR) and may take you a couple of reads to get through / get your head around… So before going straight to your WordPress site or Google+ and implementing the points I’ve listed below, you may want to know what ‘rich snippets’ are and what code is actually triggering them behind the scenes.
Put simply, rich snippets are an easy-to-crawl form of markup, using which you can better dictate information that a search engine displays about a particular webpage.
So you get to select relevant, useful and more inviting data for the search results, ideally boosting the click through ratio.
What Types of Rich Snippet are Supported
There are mainly 3 supported formats of rich snippets that will be accepted by the Google spider on instruction — Microdata, Basic Microformat and RDFa. Since webpages continuously evolve towards HTML 5 code, it would be wise to stick with “microdata”, as this is current and understood by all major search engines.
What can Rich Snippets be used for?
Rich snippits can be geared towards any kind of data or searcher, primarily, the code in you page can be best modified to suit
- Product searches
- Event searches
- Review searches
- Music/Band searches
The code has to be modified to reflect the following properties:
- The product, event or review title
- Timing and location (for events)
- Price and availability (for products)
- The reviewer and date of posting the review (for reviews)
- Concert details and ticket prices for (for band performances)
NOTE: based on how many people reviewed a product, event or any other rich data, will ultimately affect the rating of the rich snippits (and hence the webpage) based on a 5 point scale.
This rating will appear along with the snippit under your page title in the SERPs and will greatly impact the amount of converting traffic you get.
If you can understand any one of these, optimising the page for the rest is also pretty simple. Let me cover an example of a “product” rich snippit.
Product rich snippit code (steps):
1. Switch over to your HTML code using the code-edit feature in cPanel.
2. Use the <div> tag to indicate the type of rich snippet you’re creating. Most of this code will deploy “schema.org” markup as it plays a role in the activation and tracing of the code.
<div itemscope itemtype=“http://schema.org/Product”>
3. Markup the name of the product within <span> tags.
<span itemprop=“name”>PRODUCT NAME HERE</span>
4. Next, you will need to embed and offer element using the “offers property” offered to be tracked by schema.org. This will also help you to convey your price and availability.
<div itemprop=“offers” itemscope itemtype=“http://schema.org/Offer”>
<meta itemprop=“priceCurrency” content=“USD” />
<link itemprop=“availability” href=“http://schema.org/Instock”/> AVAILABILITY STATUS HERE </div>
NOTE: that the <meta> tag in the above code will help you to transcribe the price into the ISO format of “GBP” instead of the traditional “£” (or “USD” instead of “$”)
This is important as you do not know what form your target reader responds to even though you may know the location you’ve tergeted him in.
5. You may place the code in the above steps sequentially on your page. Do not forget to close tags that have been opened and not closed yet.
6. Also, this code will help the spider signal back that the page has to be displayed or listed in a particular format. It will not affect the appearance your page had earlier.
Implementing Rich Snippets into a WordPress Blog
Now, for those of you who are technically challenged, there’s a way to integrate rich snippets into wordpress, using easy to install plugins. There are two decent plugins that allow this feature to integrate into your blog — “SEO Ultimate” and “GD Ratings”.
For those who are already using the “All in One SEO” plugin, the GD ratings plugin would be better as the SEO Ultimate will only add to the load on your page as it has a lot of other functionality apart from rich snippets. If you double optimize your site with 2 plugins, you will raise your site loading time.
Also SEO Ultimate is heavier than All in One SEO, so yeah it should only be used as a replacement, not as an add on. But, if you’re still keen on using SEO Ultimate, you can easily import all your optimisation settings from All in One SEO.
Finally, if you wish to show more than one rating to your page/post from multiple visitors, in the SERPs, GD Ratings is the option for you.
Select the one you want and continue.
Steps for WP integration (for SEO Ultimate…steps are similar for GD Ratings):
1. Install the appropriate plugin zip file and extract it to the plugins directory. Otherwise, use your WP dashboard to install.
2. Adjust your theme file to support “Google Rich Snippet Syntax”. Verify the blog-post field, against mandatory fields, required as “review post” by Google. This will ensure WP blog-posts are read when parsing content for the snippet.
3. Next, open the page to add rich snippet code to, in your WP dashboard.
4. In the “SEO Settings” Box, point to “Rich Snippet Type” and a drop-down will appear.
5. Select “Review” (If you opt for a review type snippet. Adjust accordingly for other types).
6. Choose a star rating.
7. Click “Save Changes”.
Short, sweet and simple.
Relevant fields and values for display will be fetched from the post/page content by the plugin, if everything was done correctly.
Making Sure it’s Correct
You can test your implementation using the Google “Rich Snippet Tool” in Google’s Webmaster Tools.
What the REL=“Author” is that(?)
I’ll tell you about it in just a few moments, but before you do test, there’s one more aspect we should cover in order to aid our efforts with rich snippits.
It’s implementation of the rel=“author”.
Implementation has to be done in a way that not only lends credit to the author of an important post, but also helps your rich snippits to show that author as a catch in the SERPs, immediately drawing attention and shooting traffic through the roof!
However, just to let you know beforehand that rel=“author” has a restriction.
It cannot support multiple author blogs. This means it is ideal for use on a site which has a single author blog, i.e., not fit for syndicated content (yet). But if your site is self-hosted, that’s perfect
Implementing REL=“author” into your blog
The steps to follow are:
1. Goto ‘Appearance / Widgets’
2. Add a Text widget to a module placement — I tend to use Sidebar
3. From the author name on the blog post, link to the author page on the blog.
4. To that link, add the rel attribute with “author as the attribute-value.
<a href=“http://your-domain-name.com/author/YOUR NAME/” title=“Posts YOUR NAME” rel=“author”>(END CODE)
5. On the author page, cretae a link to your profile on Google+. Tag the link with the rel attribute again. But this time the value is “me”.
<a rel=“me” href=“https://plus.google.com/10276****4677*******”>My G+ Profile</a>
6. Open your G+ profile and create a link to the author page of your blog. We again have to tag this link with rel=“me”. This can be easily done by checking the option — This page is specifically about me — before creating the link. And you’re done!
Now for the testing part. Go to the link for the rich snippets testing tool (This will check your markup and let you know if google can index the structures rich snippets data on your page and it will also give you a preview of how the page appears in Google Search)
Please keep in mind that indexing of rich snippits takes time and do give it a good day or two. Also, as the tool is in development, it only has an interface in English, though it can test markup for other languages as well. But the preview in that case may not be what you expect, so conduct a search later to see the final result.
NOTE: the supported RDFa attributes are xmlns, typeof, property, rel, and content. If you test a URL and it says “Insufficient data”, the that is probably because the headers, footers and navigation on that page are not about the data that has been marked up in rich snippets. Also, it could be because the marked-up content is missing important attributes to qualify for the tool. Remember to cover organisation, location, or role, and name. Okay, now for the reults after you enter a valid URL to a qualifying page.
3 Sections to Google’s Rich Snippet Tool
# 1 : Google Search Preview
This will show you the expected appearance of your rich snippet, as it will be visible to the everyday user when they serach for your content and target keywords…along with a link to the FAQ section of the tool, in case you feel this is not what you expected.
# 2 : Expected Author/Publisher for this page
The format is somewhat like this:
authorlinked author profile = www.link.com/author/James google profile = http://profiles.google.com/15362353*******/about author name = James Bond (END FORMAT)
Below this would be a line indicating whether or not this author/publisher is verified for the Authorship. The first line is indicating whether the page content is from an author or from a publisher who has rights to the content. The following three lines are giving links to the suthor profile at their blog, their G+ profile and their name, respectively.
# 3 : Extracted Rich Snippet data from the page
This will give the descriptive data the publisher authorises to be used for reference to the page. Accompanying it are all the details about the rel tags, their target URLs and their anchor names/statements. You will also get details about the date and time when the post was published and last updated. In the end, there will be a small listing of general details about the page, it’s sitename, title, URL, page-type and the publisher’s preferred image for that post in the for of it’s URL.
At the bottom of the results, you have the option to explore your rich snippets as returned by a custom search engine.