SERPs or “search engine results pages”…they are where your company succeeds or fails online. Appear deep in the SERPs, say around page four or five and you are unlikely to be found by your target audience.
Appear on that first page, and you’ve achieved one of the most relevant business goals.
Yet, SERPs are the result of many factors, and these have changed over time, making it essential that your SEO strategy and website content change along with it. Typically thought of as the result of these factors, SERPs also reflect less familiar elements, such as “rich snippets”.
Rich Snippets and How They Figure into the SERPs Equation
When you look for technical definitions of SERPs, you’ll see a few explanations, but Webopedia offers a bit more insight when they explain that “major search engines typically display three kinds of listings on their SERPs:
- Listings that have been indexed by the search engine’s spider
- Listings that have been indexed into the search engine’s directory by a human
- Listings that are paid to be listed by the search engine.”
It is very helpful to see that search engines, particularly Google, have more than automation and algorithms at work where SERPs are concerned. In fact, they use human evaluators and consumer feedback to continually update not only algorithms but the methods used to design them.
It is all about customer experience, according to Google, and so their algorithms have consistently rewarded sites with relevant, quality and SEO oriented web content with higher rankings in SERPs. They also introduced rich snippets around 2009, which has taken SEO to the next level.
As one SEO expert in Forbes has said, “the incorporation of rich snippet data — such as reviews, recipes, directions, calories and other information — can take your SEO in a whole new direction…. studies have shown click-through rates (CTR) to increase up to four times when rich snippets appear, along with huge increases in website traffic.”
Just What Are Rich Snippets?
Of course, you may have yet to discover just what rich snippets are and where they appear in website content. To keep it simple, think of them as additional bits of information that are part of your listing in SERPs. It comes from any markup content placed on your pages and can serve as a bit of sneak preview, of sorts.
It is meant to help web users determine if a specific result is what they need.
You’ve seen lots of rich snippets yourself if you have ever “googled” something to see pricing or buying options. For example, typing in the latest iPod or iPhone will get you results that show sites selling those devices. Some will have rich snippets that show their ratings, whether something is in stock and even pricing – and all before you even click the link.
Getting Started With Rich Snippets in Your Website Content
Google itself does not refer to this content as rich snippets but instead calls it rich results that come from the use of structured data. They provide developers with the step by step instructions needed to create it, but even the briefest look shows that it is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced site administrators. The difficulty is unfortunate because rich snippets as part of your website content strategy is a fantastic way to ensure effective SEO and wind up higher and higher in relevant SERPs.
Currently, 30% of all Google results have rich snippets that illustrate their website content or focus, and it is expected to increase as the use of voice searches and AI also increase. Why? Because rich snippets, especially when combined with effective SEO and up to date website content, share critical information about the site and its content. This critical information enhances your site’s authority, which nearly always results in higher traffic.
When considering your SEO strategy, it is important to consider how structured markup and rich snippets can work best for you. Maintenance of a site, rather than a “once and done” mindset, is now the most common way to manage your website content and SEO strategy.
As you look at the ways you must update content and keywords, don’t overlook the ways that your structured markup, i.e., rich snippets, can make you far more understandable to the search engines and more visible to your audience through consistently high rank in SERPs.
This is an issue that is of significance, and a reason that so many businesses turn to website content consultants and SEO experts when considering rich snippets and SERPs.
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