Representing Content the “New” Right Way
Artificial intelligence may evolve to a point
where computers understand meaning.
But for now, structuring data with semantic
markup makes the Web a better,
While you may have an intimate understanding of your
Web pages and the content they represent, it is Google (and
other search engines, too) that will help users find your
page(s) by showing them a sample of the content — a “snippet,”
if you will — on the search result pages. And these snippets
are very important, as they are a major factor in whether
or not a user clicks on the result.
Think of the summarized information as a new presentation
model that applies Google’s algorithms to highlight
structured data embedded in your Web pages. So can you
influence what Google displays in these snippets? Yes, you
can — with Google’s Rich Snippets.
As an SEO, Internet marketer or webmaster in general,
you can influence the results by annotating your pages with
structured data in a standard format. By incorporating some
standard annotations in your pages, you not only make your
structured data available for Google’s search results, but also
for any service or tool that supports the same standard.
Focus initially on providing semantic markup (rich
snippets) for people data featured on your website, then
move to providing additional information for review data
and event data.
Rich Snippets for People
The most exciting use is associating data with people. Since
most websites feature some information about key employees
or stakeholders, it only makes sense to start here.
Each individual can have a number of properties to associate
data with, including name, title and address, but there is much more valuable data that can be shared. An
image link, the person’s role (not just the title), a Web page
link and even affiliations are all candidates. Also, thanks to
Google’s ability to recognize XFN properties (friend, contact
and acquaintance properties), social relationships can
also be identified.
Rich Snippets for Business
Another content type to append with semantic markup
is the information for your business or organization.
Name, URL, address (including sub- properties such as street
address, region, postal code and country name), a telephone
number and the specific geographic coordinates can be
Rich Snippets for Reviews
One of the most interesting aspects of using Rich Snippets
on review content is that both individual reviews and review
information in aggregate can be marked up. For example, in
some instances it might prove useful to show the
aggregate number or reviews whereas others might be
more interested in showing an editor’s rating or review
of a particular product or location.
Individual reviews can receive the Rich Snippet
treatment with properties such as the name of the
item being reviewed, its rating (due to the many
possible ways to indicate ratings, Google has provided
some guidance on this — http://bit.ly/9kFtlp), the
reviewer or author, the date the item was reviewed and a
description and summary.
Those wishing to profile aggregate review data on the
SERPs can include the item being reviewed, a rating, total
number of reviews for the item, votes and a summary. For
those who are thinking to include both, Google recommends
choosing one format. If a page contains both individual
and aggregate review data, only the aggregate
markup data will be displayed.
Review sites and social networking sites (Yelp was one of
the original adopters during an initial rollout) are those that
will benefit the most by using Google’s Rich Snippets for reviews,
at this point, but all signs point to Google extending
to additional areas in the future. When that happens, being
prepared will pay significant dividends.
Rich Snippets for Events
Receiving exposure on event information is a great reason to
use Rich Snippets. Information such as an event's title, date
and venue can help a listing stand out in the search results.
Google currently uses the data only for pages containing collections
of events, but websites displaying events should consider
adding the snippet to their pages. There are several
other event fields to include, such as geographic coordinates,
event type (festival, concert or lecture), duration and even
an image or photo.
Rich Snippets for Recipes
Don’t think of Rich Snippets as exclusive to B2B industries.
In fact, Google supports Rich Snippets for B2C too, such as
recipes. The properties that can be added to rich snippets
for recipes are some of the most extensive and detailed. Information
such as the type or recipe, prep time, cook time,
nutrition and even instructions are just some of the properties
that can be included and displayed on the search result
Finally, Google has provided the Rich Snippets Testing
Tool to help webmasters check their markup — making
sure the structured data can be extracted from the
page. The tool displays the markup found on a specific
Web page and a preview of how that page might appear in
Google’s Rich Snippet feature has been rolled out gradually
over the past year (initial release was on May 12,
2009) but sparks little conversation across the industry.
As structured data becomes more widespread on the Web
and on Google, it is time now to get excited about the possibilities
and get started marking up your pages. Rich
Snippets offers a way for marketers and publishers to extend
some level of control and customization on search
results pages. And any edge on Google SERPs is a significant
Read more: To display Rich Snippets, Google looks for markup formats (microformats, microdata and RDFa) that can be added to most Web pages. In some caes, it's as quick as wrapping the exiting data on your pages with a few additional tags. Website Magazine has put together a guide to working with these various markup formats for the various rich snippet categories.