Not a lot of people know this, but there are actually differences between rich snippets and structured snippets. Confused? Well hopefully I’ll try my best to enlighten you!
I was guest speaking at an eCommerce Masterclass (Hi-5 Me!) last week and I noticed one of my fellow speakers discussed them as though they were the same thing. After further investigation, this appears to be a fairly common misconception. It’s very important to understand the difference because in the future, structured snippets will transform how information is presented to searchers!
Before I delve into the key differences, it makes sense to touch on why they exist. For as long as I’ve been able to visit my local pub (legally anyway), Google has always strived to present the most relevant information in a way that is of most use to someone typing in a particular search query. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, but generally they do a pretty good job in terms of providing a good user experience. Both these types of snippet have helped Google to interpret data and web content in a way it hasn't been able to in the past.
So, what's the difference I hear you ask?
Rich snippets are pulled from specially formatted data found on websites and exist to improve the results pages and give users more information about what they’re searching for before they even click on the link! For example, searching for a restaurant could result in brief excerpt of a sample menu, opening hours or reviews. You can control these results and help Google to better understand the content within your site.
Structured snippets, by contrast you can’t control. These help to provide very specific information about a given search query based on aggregated web results, which unfortunately you don’t and can’t influence! These types of snippets can completely ignore rich snippets and instead do their own search for information already out there. So, say for exmple you’re searching for a movie (e.g. Guardians of the Galaxy which is ace if you haven’t seen it!) the almighty Google could serve up a variety of different information on the various actors, film reviews or a plot summary from Wikipedia. All information that it feels might help give the best possible user experience. Find out more about the arrival of structured snippets by reading our blog here.
Now you see the difference, you can perhaps understand why marketers are a little concerned about how structured snippets could severely impact click through rates and ultimately traffic. At the moment it’s relatively small in scale but it’s unlikely to stay like that for much longer. Structured snippets are here to stay and Internet marketers are right to be worried.
I’ll be discussing how you might restore the balance of power to some extent in a future post so keep your eyes peeled!
That’s All Folks!! … After Digital’s more enlightened SEO Guru signing off for this week.