It's now been eight years since I've pushed my clients to incorporate rich snippets into their online stores, websites, and blogs. Google search engine results pages had become living, breathing, dynamic, personalized pages for you to find the information you need… largely thanks to visual enhancements they've made to the search engine result page using structured data provided by publishers.
Those enhancements include:
- Direct Answer Boxes with short, instantaneous answers, lists, carousels, or tables that may also have images to enhance them.
- Rich Snippets provided by websites to enhance search engine result page entries with prices, ratings, availability, etc.
- Rich Cards for user-friendly mobile users.
- Knowledge Graphs on the right sidebar of a SERP that provides curated images and information about the search.
- Knowledge Panels on the right sidebar of a SERP that provide curated images, information, maps and directories that are specific to a brand or business.
- Local Pack (or Map Pack) are the heart of local search results with business information, reviews, and maps. These are largely driven by Google My Business activity with updates and brand reviews.
- People Also Ask provide related questions and answers from queries.
- Image Pack is a horizontal carousel on queries that are visually targeted.
- Site Links are an expanded list of key links within popular sites. It may also include a site search field that's specific to the site's internal search mechanism.
- Twitter carousel displays the list of the latest tweets from twitter accounts.
- News Box is a time-sensitive carousel of breaking news and top stories found on known news sites.
By structuring your data and following Schema standards, a brand can significantly impact their visibility within these engaging features on a search engine result page – especially when it comes to enhancing their own listed result on the page using rich snippets.
There is a nefarious argument on this as well… that Google is able to keep users on their search engine result pages rather than bring them to your destination pages. If they can keep users there, they may be more likely to click ads, Google's bread and butter. But hey… Google owns the search audience, so I'm afraid you've got to play their game. Hopefully, as you drive search engine results to your site, you're doing a great job at engaging and capturing your visitor's information so you can build a direct relationship.
Google not only states that providing this meta data may result in an optimal presentation on a SERP, they also fully explain that rich snippets can improve your overall search engine visibility because it educates their algorithms on the information within the page.
If your company, your vendors, and your content don't take advantage of rich snippets, you're going to be left in the dirt by competitors that do. If your marketing agency isn't screaming at you to implement them – you need to find a new firm. And if you have a proprietary or old infrastructure that doesn't support them, you need to migrate or develop a solution that does. Rich snippets are not only enhancing search, they're also impacting click-through rates more than ever imagined.
This infographic from Brafton, A Visual Guide to Every Google SERP Feature: Snippets, Panels, Paid Ads and More, provides a visual overview of how rich snippets and structured data look on a search engine results page.