Sean owns and operates the new media company, Surf Star Media. He has been designing and developing sites since 2004 and has been freelance writing for even longer. He has a keen eye for artistry and talent, having worked for Sony Music Entertainment, Warped Tour, and Major League Baseball. When untied from the computer, you can find him whipping up a mean dinner on the grill or exploring the Rocky Mountains.
If you’re looking for a way to increase traffic to your content through search results and you’ve heard terms like “rich snippets” and “microdata” being thrown around, then read on.
In this post, I’ll introduce rich snippets and schemas, and I’ll cover how you can use these to help your content gain more exposure.
What is a Rich Snippet?
A snippet is the lines of text that you see under each search result. They are designed to give searchers an idea of what’s on the page and why it’s relevant to their search.
If a search engine understands the content on your page, it can create Rich Snippets, or detailed information intended to help users with specific searches. You know, those gold star ratings under the link or the author’s mugshot next to their article.
Snippets are ever expanding and evolving, and have become commonplace to deliver quick information about reviews and price. The snippet for a recipe page might show the total preparation time, a photo, and the recipe’s review rating; and the snippet for a music album could list the songs along with a link to play each song.
For this article we’ll use Google as our default search engine but all major search engines support Rich Snippets. The list below is common content but there are plenty more categories supported by Schema.org:
Step 1: Pick a Format
The first step in helping a search engine create Rich Snippets is picking a markup format; Microdata, Microformats, and RDFa. Prior knowledge of these formats are not needed, just some basic HTML skills. Google recommends using Microdata, so that is the format we’ll use.
Step 2: HTML or Data Highlighter?
Google also offers a Data Highlighter to “teach” the search engine about the consistent data on your pages. For instance, if you write a blog and the template of your website automatically generates each new page (think CMS as opposed to building each page from scratch), using the Data Highlighter you can select the title of your article, the author, date published, etc., and Google will apply those parameters to all of your pages. You teach Google where to find that specific information and it automatically pulls it from all of your other articles, essentially doing the markup for you.
The Data Highlighter is amazingly quick and easy to use, but it’s not nearly as specific or detailed compared to writing the markup yourself. The Data Highlighter could be a good option if you’re trying to create rich snippets for a bunch of archived articles all at once.
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