In a recent conversation with a user on Twitter, Zineb Ait Bahajji – Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst – gave some insight into how the company’s search engine algorithm allocates rich snippets for competing results.
A “rich snippet” is a term used to describe a search engine result that provides additional data for the viewer, usually summarising the content of a page. Google is able to extract this data when it detects the relevant format within a web page, but not all enabled search results are allocated this extra information.
If you’re finding that search results for your website are not displaying rich snippets, or you simply want to start using this feature, Zineb Ait Bahajji has provided more information on how it works. The main point of rich snippets, she says, is to keep the SERPs tidy and less cluttered.
To decide which results benefit from the extra information provided by rich snippets, she explains that the search algorithm will compare and contrast the links displayed on a SERP. So it’s not only about your own website but also the websites you’re competing against for certain search queries, and whether Google deems your site to be better for rich snippets.
While there’s nothing you can do to directly change how Google sees other web pages, you can alter your own content to gain an advantage over your competitors. But what criteria is important to optimise for when trying to generate rich snippets on Google?
The length of time a rich snippet has been used for is less important in the algorithm decision making process according to Zineb Ait Bahajji, with the content of a web page playing a more vital role. Specifically, it is the relevance and quality of the content that Webmasters should be concentrating on in order to compete effectively with other sites.
In terms of quality, some search queries will produce a higher standard of links in comparison to others. This means that even though you might be producing consistent work throughout your site, some pages might need to be of a higher quality for the rich snippets algorithm than other pages.
An SEO expert tasked with optimising your content will, therefore, need to look at how the search engines are responding to individual pages on your site and adjust accordingly. If one page is showing rich snippets while another is not, this will provide an effective guide as to where to improve and compete for search engine perks.
Zineb Ait Bahajji’s comments have provided interesting insight into the workings of Google’s algorithm with regards to rich snippets, indicating that quality plays an important role in its decision making process – not just the quality of your own content but that of other websites as well.