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Today’s post is by Sr. Account Manager Brian Moore, who has worked in SEM and SEO across many verticals since 2007.
When reflecting on what has changed in the organic search marketing landscape over the past few years, one can be overwhelmed by just how quickly things change. Perhaps this is why some marketers have had a difficult time keeping up with some of the biggest opportunities for SEO even a few years after their introduction.
In my own experience, semantic mark-up in the form of Google’s Rich Snippets has been one of the biggest examples of this. It seems outside of major players like Amazon, eBay, CNN.com etc., very few are aware of what Rich Snippets are or how they work. Nevertheless, adoption is growing, and slowly but surely Rich Snippets are revolutionizing the organic search landscape.
What Are Rich Snippets?
Rich Snippets are search engine listing enhancements that provide additional information to users about the contents of the destination page. These enhancements are pulled from semantic/structured mark-up data that code into a webpage. Here’s an example:
While the semantic web allows for the coding of a large variety of page elements, Google currently only recognizes a handful of them:
- Businesses and organizations
Why Should You Care?
With Rich Snippets, your listings become more eye-catching and informative, which can lead to an increased organic CTR.
It is also key to note that Rich Snippets and Semantic mark-up in general will not improve your organic listing positions. However, it does mean that if you are in, say, position 3, but your listing is the only one with enhancements, then you may end up taking a larger chunk of the clicks than you otherwise would. Check out the following (which would you click?):
Now, although this isn’t a new opportunity to improve rankings per Google’s algo, the reality is that this is a chance to improve upon all rankings that you have achieved across the board. And the fact that Google isn’t adjusting rankings based on semantic data now doesn’t mean they won’t sometime in the future.
It’s also important to realize that the faster you act to implement, the more benefit in taking clicks away from competing listings. After all, as adoption inevitably continues, you may be forced to play catch-up to retain the traffic you already have.
How to Get Started?
The first step is identifying the best way to implement semantic mark-up on your website. Google recognizes Microdata, Microformats, and RDFa. If none of those names means anything to you, I recommend visiting http://schema.org/, which provides details on how to implement Microdata, the mark-up language most recommended by Google.
The next thing to do is figure out which type of Rich Snippets you can leverage on your website. I recommend taking advantage of any you can; don’t leave any opportunities on the table.
Finally, once you have marked up your pages, you can troubleshoot you listings with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
Once you have confirmed your successful implementation, you can begin watching your organic traffic climb.
– Brian Moore, Sr. Account Manager