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Get smart with rich data and microformats

A few years back Google CEO Eric Schmidt confidently predicted that it would only be a matter of time before Google would be able to give you your search results before you typed in the query. Thankfully, 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 (and us for that matter) seem to think they are.

Let us explain. Search engines do not read and fully understand the content of your Web site. 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 here that the problem is context.

Say, for example, your Web site has the words “based in Birmingham, we sell sinks all over the world”. Google et al will pick up Birmingham and sinks as specific to you and possibly world (but try typing that into Google and seeing how many results you get). The rest of the statement is meaningless to it.

Whereas, a person reading the site who is based in Australia and looking for a sink supplier will understand immediately you are able to help but will they get to see the page? Just by typing the search in Google will not match the supplier with the customer in this case.

sinks-snippets

Rich snippets

So, what can we do to get round this? Fortunately there is something that can be done to overcome this and it’s called ‘rich snippets’. They are the few lines of text that appear under every search result and are designed to give users a sense for what’s on the page and why it’s relevant to their query.

If Google understands the content on your pages, it can create rich snippets. For example, the snippet for a restaurant might show the average review and price range. In the example we used above it could detail what you provide (sinks) and where you provide them to (globally).

Below we have a good example where a show’s website is built without rick snippets but the ticket sales site adds in the event rich snippet, resulting in a more informative summary in Google.

rich-snippets

Existing code on web sites can be adapted by wrapping certain content with tags that tell Google if the item is a product, place, person, news article, event etc.  The list is growing rapidly with Google now supporting specific tags for reciepes, films and songs for example.

If you’d like your web site adapted to support rich data and microformats or are have any questions about this please give us a call on 01784 772405 or click here to email us.

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Posted by on 20. Sep 2013