Avoid Rich Snippet Markup Spam- Black Hat Process

What is Snippet?

Snippet refers to the small text excerpts from a website that is displayed in the search results of a search engine. These usually consist of a title, description, and a URL. They serve as a preview of the search results and are aimed at attracting the reader to click.

What is Rich Snippet?

Rich snippets are a more advanced form of snippets that may also contain other elements such as rating stars, links, images, prices, and other forms of information. These provide the searcher with additional information. The information can be formatted in a special manner in the source code and prominently displayed in the search results. It is aimed at helping visitors to quickly determine whether the search result is relevant for their search or not. Rich snippets can be used to increase the click-through rate.

Why are they beneficial?

  • Rich snippets give customers information they need more quickly, and they often increase click-through because they provide immediately relevant content that is more visible in search results.

  • Click-thrus also increase because the additional information is eye-catching. Many companies have seen click-thru rates rise 20 to 30 percent after introducing rich snippets.

  • Rich snippets also reduce bounce rates because visitors have a better idea of the page’s content. They are less likely to click away quickly because they can’t find the information they’re looking for.

  • Both click-through and bounce rates contribute to search engine optimization, so using rich snippets can increase your ranking over time.

Why we need Snippet?

  • When you type a search query into a search engine such as Google, you normally get a set of 10 search results at a time. Each search result is different although it has been retrieved with the same keyword. Observe that some search results are accompanied by images, videos, user ratings, published date, author photo and additional details about the content in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). It is a universal tendency to be attracted by visual information more quickly than text-only information. Hence, one is generally inclined to click on the search result with visual content, even if it is the fifth result from the top in the SERPs, as shown in the sample SERP below:

    What is rich snippet- TheWebomania
    Rich Snippet for a particular search result in the SERP

  • The most appealing search result is first ones, which give a visual representation of the contents of the respective websites with four-star ratings. The second search result would be the next preferred one. So, even if www.wikihow.com makes it to the top of the SERPs for the keyword banana shake recipe, the results below it steal a good share of its audience by looking better on the SERP.

  • The text information depicted in the first search result is generally known as a snippet, while the information depicted in the second and third results with visual components are known as rich snippets. It is quite apparent by now that rich snippets fare much better than plain snippets.

    For what type of content can Rich Snippets appear?

    • Restaurants

    Rich Snippets: average review, number of stars and price range

    • Recipes

    Rich Snippets: photo, recipe rating and time required

    • Music Albums

    Rich Snippets: lyrics and a link to play the song

    • Video

    Rich Snippets: video image

    • People

    Rich Snippets: phone number and photos

    • Products

    Rich Snippets: rating, picture and price range

    • Business and Organization

    Rich Snippets: location and customer review

    • Events

    Rich Snippets: event date, location and time

    • Authors

    Rich Snippets:  author photo, name and link to more article

Why did Rich Snippet Markup consider as Spam?

It’s a general fact that the rich snippet helps to e-commerce store owners by displaying their product’s data in the search engine through well-decorated manner and have seen click-thru rates rise 20 to 30 percent after introducing rich snippets. But some of are using this advantages marking up their content that is invisible to users, marking up irrelevant or misleading content and other manipulative behaviours. Hence Google starts penalizing sites for rich snippet spam. Below are some examples:

Reviews for a particular product:

Some of the websites add some artificial content to a page, just pretending it’s reviewing something (or users have reviewed something). Well, Google adds shining stars to the snippet even if this review is totally false. Now this will consider as spam due to manipulative content.

SEO rich snippet- TheWebomania
Manipulative content using Rich Snippet

Recipes:

Rich snippet- TheWebomania
False and irrelevant information using Rich Snippet

Above example is irrelevant as it’s not possible to make a Cassata in that time and the rich snippet is giving false information.

Videos:

SEO rich snippet- TheWebomania
Rich Snippet having misleading content.

Above example is a misleading content as there is no video and the rich snippet is giving manipulative information.

Guidelines:

  • If you use rich snippets on your websites, you should be aware that Google is now penalizing websites for spamming structured data mark up.

  • The new warning was first mentioned in a forum post on the Google Webmaster Central forums from a user who is asking for clarification about the warning and what the issue could be. It is a manual action penalty based on incorrect usage of mark-up’s, regardless of whether it was deliberate spam or simply a mistake.

Ways of implementing rich snippets!

There are three different approaches to rich snippets: RDFa, Microdata and Microformats. Google recommends using Microdata. Schema markup is the most common way to incorporate rich snippets using Microdata. Schema.org is a collaboration between Bing and Yahoo! to set up language that can be used across these different search engines. The Schema Creator allows store owners to create code quickly and easily and insert it into their website. Users can then test their snippet using Google’s tool.

There are 3 different ways of implementing rich snippets depending on the purpose and the standard used:

·      MicroData

Microdata enables declaration of information types using HTML5 and assigns them properties. This makes it possible to declare reviews, persons, products, companies, recipes, events, organizations, videos, etc. using a special vocabulary. A person created through microdata may look like this:

Google snippet- TheWebomania
Microdata- A way of implementing Rich Snippet

Use of item scope within the tag declares that an element follows. The element’s type is specified as being a “person” using itemtype=“http://data-vocabulary.org/Person”. The item is then complemented with properties by adding itemprop= “ ”. Inside the quotation marks are the various properties e.g., name, title, affiliation, URL, or address. A special case is the address property that can be subdivided further into sub-properties such as locality and region.

·      MicroFormats

Microformats are also used to implement rich snippets through HTML tags. One defines the so-called entities and other properties through a class attribute within a tag. In order to create the concept of a person, the hCard microformat, which is registered in the source code using class=“vcard”, is used. The above-mentioned example would look as follows in microformats:

SEO rich snippet service- TheWebomania
Implementing rich snippet by MicroFormats.

Here as well, the person is defined further based on different properties and again, the address is separately specified through sub-properties. The definition of the various properties is done using the class=“ ” string. It is no coincidence that most of the properties have the same name as already mentioned above in the microdata example. The properties used for microdata are based on the microformat hCard.

·     RDFa

RDFa also makes it possible to integrate elements with their respective properties and thereby make reviews, persons, recipes, and other elements available for rich snippets. However, as opposed to microdata and microformats, RDFa uses XHTML tags to define these properties. When implemented in RDFa, the aforementioned example would like this:

SEO rich snippet- TheWebomania
RDFa implementing rich snippet.

The namespace declaration using XML shows which vocabulary is used for the definition of the elements and their properties. Use of typeof=“v:Person” defines the type of element, which is a person in this case. To add a property, one uses the property=“v:Property” string. “Property” should, of course, be substituted with the corresponding term. When specifying URLs, the rel-tag is used instead. Just like with microdata and microformats, the address can also be sub-divided and given in several sub-properties in this case.

Differences between microdata, microformats, and RDFa

For some time, microdata is the only standard that is supported by Schema.org. As a result, microdata is recognized by all major search engines and is implementable without any difficulties. However, one of the advantages of RDFa is the easy expandability as opposed to the limited standards of the other two in terms of the extension options. On the other hand, microformats are quite easy to use and can, therefore, be implemented relatively quickly.

What is rich snippet- TheWebomania
Importance of rich snippet for SEO

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