What CMOs Need To Know About Google’s New Structured Snippets
Columnist Danny Sullivan explains a recent change in Google's search engine results pages in terms tailored for busy CMOs making critical decisions.
Have you heard some rumblings about “Structured Snippets” in Google’s search results and are wondering what’s up with that? Don’t worry. We’ve got a short, high-level overview to get you up to speed.
What’s A Snippet?
Below is an example of regular “snippet,” Google’s term for the descriptions that it shows for web pages in its listings:
Now look at this example, paying attention to the area where the red arrow is pointing:
See those three bits of extra information, about the camera sensor resolution, weight and display size? That’s new information Google has added to a regular snippet.
Why Are These Called Structured Snippets?
The information is taken off the the web page itself. The “Structured” term comes from the idea that this is structured data.
Structured data? Most data Google shows for pages is “messy,” in the sense that Google is just showing a bunch of words to summarize a page.
But with the structured snippets, Google is trying to organize some of that information — to give it structure — so that it understand certain facts like camera weight or other data points. Often, Google is better able to understand it because the information is in a chart or table.
Should I Worry About This?
Some publishers are concerned that the more data Google shows from a web page, the less likely some might be to visit their web pages.
For example, someone looking for the weight of a camera could do a search, get their question answered by Google’s results and not click on the link to the site that actually provided Google with the information.
Google’s only been doing structured snippets for a few weeks, so it’s too early to say if it’s having an impact that causes sites to lose traffic.
Structured snippets are also giving away far less information that Google’s “Direct Answers” that sometimes appear, even showing step by step instructions like this:
Direct Answers have been around longer; and so far, there’s been no major reports of many sites losing traffic because of them. Given this, structured snippets probably won’t be a major cause for concern.
I Like Structured Snippets. How Do I Get Them?
Some may feel structured snippets make their descriptions stand out more, potentially making their sites seem more attractive to someone viewing search results and perhaps attracting a click.
If you’re like this, you probably want to make structured snippets appear for your pages. How do you do that?
Google’s really looking to see if you have key information about a product or service listed in a table. If you can give information about a product structure by organizing it into a nice table, that helps increase the odds Google will extract parts of your table to use in structured snippets.
That’s the best advice. Even using tables won’t guarantee you’ll get them. But it may help. And if you’re successful, you may see up to four items of data associated along with the snippet.
Special thanks to columnist Eric Enge, who contributed to this article.