Why You Should Be Concerned About Google's "Rich Snippets"

Written on
March 8, 2018
by
Sean Smith
in
Technical Optimization
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Google's number one goal is to connect searchers with information that answers their query.

It's as simple as that.

The faster, easier, and more reliable resource usually wins out over the slower, more convoluted, badly laid out resource.

If  your site is hard to navigate, hard for Google to crawl, hard to pull  information from, and slow you will likely rank worse than your  opposition - but in some circumstances Google skips the middle man (you)  altogether and pulls information from your site that users might be  interested in seeing and displays it in a better way than you are - so  that their searchers can get information faster.

These are  typically referred to as "rich snippets" which act as tables, graphs,  bios, or other information that is displayed directly within a search  engine results page (otherwise referred to as a SERP).

At the end  of the day these rich snippets can help you gain traffic dramatically,  or hurt your traffic dramatically - and it typically depends on a few  different circumstances.

A brief understanding of rich snippets

Rich snippets are typically represented in three different ways:

  • Paragraph snippets (which are typically referred to as "Feature" snippets that represent small segments of larger articles)
  • List snippets (which is basically a list of information from an article or resource)
  • Table snippets (which can be something like a calculator, or even information about the weather)

According to Getstat paragraph  snippets make up 82% of overall snippets found on Google, while list  snippets make up 11%, and table snippets make up the other 7%.

Feature  snippets and list snippets are typically really helpful for site  traffic - and in some circumstances can actually surge an article's  traffic - or really harm traffic to your article if yours is not the one  being featured.

Table snippets on the other hand can be very  helpful to customers, but if the data pulled solves the need of the  searcher without having to access your site it can have a massive  negative traffic outcome on your site.

For a bit of information on how to optimize your site to be included in the rich snippets of a search query Ann Smarty wrote a great post on the Moz blog about just that.

The good

In  circumstances when your articles are being represented as a featured  snippet or a list snippet the effect can be massive over the volume of  the article or resource the information is being pulled from. We've had  clients who have had their articles included in the featured snippets  that have seen 100x the amount of traffic that their normal articles see  from organic traffic.

When this happens it can be a really great experience, and typically looks something like this:

Rich+snippets+post+(4).png

This  resource from IMDB likely gains a lot of traffic from being represented  in this list snippet - as anyone who would be interested in seeing more  information on this topic that isn't listed here might be more inclined  to click the IMDB link after engaging with the information in the link  rather than progressing to the other organic options further down the  page.

The bad

Unfortunately it can go the  other way as well, you can have your article not be featured - and your  competition can have a featured snippet, which means your organic  traffic might see a massive dip from this specific search query.

An  even worse circumstance is when Google pulls information from your site  for a direct query about your business that is more user friendly than  the same information represented on your website. These are typically  seen as a table snippet.

I'll use a ski lodge near me as an example of this.

Here's the site of the lodge:

Rich+snippets+post+(2).png

But  Google knows that most people who would be searching for this resort  would likely be wanting to know if it's open, what the slope conditions  are, and if the slopes and lifts are currently open. That being the case  Google shows a table with that information in a much more user-friendly  way at the top of their SERP for a direct query about this mountain:

Rich+snippets+post+(1).png

If I'm finding this information so easily here, why even visit your site?

And  to make things worse, unlike the feature snippet - where is the link to  visit your site? It's not there. In-fact in this circumstance Google is  pulling this information then not even showing the organic listing for  the website this information is pulled from until after this table and  their local listing table:

Rich+snippets+post+(3).png

You  could imagine that this is likely highly affecting the click-through  traffic of Wolf Ridge's website, and while the information still might  be helping them get business because their customers are getting  information about the slope conditions quickly - they're unable to  control the messaging and call to actions that surround that information  until someone scrolls over 70% down the page to click on their organic  listing, unless they click on their paid listing at the top of the SERP  (which costs them money every time it's clicked).

Be concerned, be aware, and bake it into your strategy

So  there's plenty of reason to be concerned about these rich snippets -  they can help or harm your business in a massive way - but they can be  adjusted, they can be adapted to, and you can make them a part of your  online strategy too!

Simply effective marketing.