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Get smart with rich data and microformats

Get smart with rich data and microformats


A few years back, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, confidently predicted that it was only a matter of time before Google would be able to show your search results to you before you typed in the query.

This rather alarming prediction has not come to pass, mainly due to the simple reason that Google, and other search engines, are not as smart as he seems to think they are.

The problem with search engines

Search engines do not fully understand the content of your website. This applies no matter how well the site has been designed and written.

All they are able to do is match the words to a specific search query. You will realise straight away that the problem here is context.

Say, for example, your website includes the words “based in Birmingham, we sell sinks all over the world”. Google will recognise ‘Birmingham’ and ‘sinks’ as keywords that are specific to you, and possibly ‘world’, but try typing that search term into Google and see how many results you get.

The rest of the original statement is meaningless, resulting in a raft of useless suggested links.

The problem with search engines

However, a person reading your website who is based in Australia and looking for a sink supplier will understand immediately that you are able to help.

But how will someone find your website in the first place? Just by typing the above search term in Google will not match the supplier with the customer in this case.

What are Rich Snippets?

So, what can we do to get around this? Fortunately, there is something that can be done to overcome this problem and it’s called ‘rich snippets’.

Otherwise known as Structured Data, Rich Snippets are lines of text that appear under most search results and are designed to give users a sense of what’s on the page and why it’s relevant to their query.

If Google understands the content on your page, it can create rich snippets. For example, the snippet for a restaurant might show the average review and price range.

In the original example above, rich snippets could detail what you provide (sinks) and where you provide them to (globally).

Below we can see a good example of how a musicals’ website is built without rich snippets, but a third-party ticket agent adds this data into their website, resulting in a more informative summary in Google.

rich snippets and microformats help visibility in Google Search Results

How can you add Rich Snippets to your website code?

Existing code on websites can be adapted by wrapping certain content with tags that tell Google if the item is a product, place, person, news article or event.

The list of tags is growing rapidly with Google now supporting specific tags for recipes, films and songs.

If you would like your website adapted to support structured data and microformats, or have any questions about this subject, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to help.