At the beginning of this month, I gave a talk on how to increase CTR using rich snippets at SMX Israel.
What I notice that other posts written about rich snippets are more about what new structured data now appear in the SERPs and some actionable development resources.
What I find lacking, which I tried to cover in my talk, was being able to show your client why it’s important to them as a business, not just because “that looks better”.
For people who want to know more you can read the transcript from my talk which include links to resources, as well as reading other posts on specific rich snippets such as Graham Charlton’s post on ecommerce reviews or David Moth’s post on video thumbnails.
It’s all about exposure
In exchange for providing Google with structured data, Google uses that data and provides the searcher with even more relevant information specific to their search.
There are several forms of structured data that you can utilise so they will appear within SERPs, and nine are listed in Google’s Rich Snippet Testing Tool.
You can easily test on a live site or paste in HTML code to test what the result would look like in a SERP so that you don’t have to bother your developer.
One example: The rel author attribute. Easy peasy richy snippy
On a technical level this is isn’t a rich snippet, but is part of structured data that Google can, and will, apply to your site’s search results when implemented.
Using the phrase “people love people, not brands”, people are instinctively attracted to the image of a person’s face, especially when surrounded by lots of blocks of text (such as a SERP).
Let’s see what you’re focusing on with the SERP for “facebook comments”:
I don’t know about you – but my eyes are drawn to the picture of me, and then afterwards the review rich snippet in the result below.
This element of noticing something that falls outside the usual pattern of a search result is the key to increasing your exposure in the SERP and therefore attracts more visitors to your site.
To read more about the rel author tag, Google+ use and how it integrates into search you should read a post I wrote about it in August last year.
Increased exposure = increased CTR = fulfilling KPIs!
Now – back to the value of rich snippets from a business perspective. It’s very nice to have rich snippets appear in the SERPs but you essentially want to do this to improve your own site or your client site’s worth.
So, taking the concept that using rich snippets increase your exposure within a SERP, you now have more opportunity to attract that searcher to visit your site.
Rich snippets can be optimised too. You can use the rel author tag by experimenting which profile picture attracts people the most. As well as covering it in my talk, I make mention to a more comprehensive test carried out by Cyrus Shepard where he tests CTR increase with variations of profile pictures that appear for him.
His test resulted in an increased CTR (which you can track in the Search Engine Optimisation area of Google Analytics or the Author Stats section of Google Webmaster Tools) and with that he attracted more visitors to his site.
More visitors to a site is a great KPI to measure. If anything I find that an increase in non-branded visits and the number of non-branded keywords searchers find a site with are more important than climbing up the SERPs.
Some may disagree, but I always like to use the following hypothetical situation to illustrate this:
Imagine you’re competing to be position one for a high competition keyword. The site at position one will be hard to beat without increased resource, time and (more importantly) money. My thoughts here are to decide whether it’s better to be in position one, or instead rank in position two and use that second position to attract the searcher so much so that they don’t notice position one as much.
If I can explain to my client that there was a way to attract more visitors without necessarily being obsessed about ranking at position #1 and without having to increase budget then I’m doing my job.
If I can implement it, track it, and then show that the increase in visits convert or fulfil any other KPI, I have done my job well.
Rich snippets do have value beyond information!
Using increased CTR as your KPI and tracking these visits all the way to conversion can count towards an actual monetary value.
Exact tracking is sometimes hard to come by but as it’s been shown before, using structured data provides more information for searchers to find and therefore give more reasons for that person to visit your site and not the site that may rank above you.