Today is Rich Snippets day! Yes, it is. It’s all about how you get those darn good looking SEO Ratings right into Google’s search results. But what are Rich Snippets, why do you need it and how is it done? This is what you will read in this blog post.
What Are Rich Snippets?
Some time ago, in May 2009, Google introduced the so called “Rich Snippets” on their Webmaster Central @ Blogspot. The idea behind Rich Snippets simply was to give webmasters a tool to “describe” what’s going on on their websites. In particular the problem is that search engines very often do not understand the content the way the webmaster does.
For search engines your content is just code. Nothing more, nothing less. And you may understand it’s very difficult to filter out that stuff that is important. Just take a look on the image to your right and see if you can figure out the important stuff yourself. It’s just messy, isn’t it?
In my blog post Rich Snippets for WordPress over at wp-buddy.com I think I’ve explained it very well. I wrote:
“Microdata is a synonym for particular HTML statements. It can be embedded into HTML to provide additional information to the search engines.”
But what’s the difference between microdata and Rich Snippets? Microdata is the syntax (the code) that is used to provide those additional information whereas Rich Snippets are the actual “symbols” (in our case it’s the SEO rating that is displayed in search results).
Why Do You Need SEO Ratings in Search Results?
Big question, very short answers:
- You tell the search engines that your content was rated either
- by yourself
- or by your readers
- You may potentially expect higher rankings
- You may expect an increase in CTR (Click-Through-Rate)
Here is a short explanation to every bullet point:
- Rating items: Yes, you can rate your own content or a “thing” that was outlined in a post. For example if you have a tech blog and write about the latest MacBook you can rate this item. The stars will usually also show up in search results. But it’s a little different to the rating that gets calculated as an average rating for a blog post (read more about that later).
- Higher rankings? What? Glen at Viperchill wrote a blog post on how to manipulate the publishing date and get higher rankings out of this. Guess what? This was done with microdata. But please note: this seems to be a bug on Google’s end and in the near future this surely will be fixed. It’s also not officially confirmed that you get higher rankings when you’re using microdata (or in this case SEO star ratings). But I guess that using new technologies (that is also suggested by Google itself) will always be rewarded in any form.
- CTR: This is the most obvious reason why you should use a star rating snippet for search engine optimization. Once it gets shown on search results your search result will be handled differently and the microdata code-snippet will be transformed to a good looking star rating.
How does it work exactly? Here is an example:
I don’t want to go into coding very deeply as I know that most of you reading this will not be very interested in that. But to complete this I will show a little code example for rating a blog post.
At first we have to the define what should be rated. In this case it’s a blog post. I think the best “thing” to describe a blog post in the world of schema.org is a BlogPosting-Thing. But you can also use the superordinated thing (which is a CreativeWork).
Of course, our blog post has an unique URL. So we have to write that down, too:
<aside itemtype="http://schema.org/BlogPosting" itemscope="itemscope"> <meta content="https://purpleheartratingplugin.com/blog/seo-ratings/" itemprop="url" /> </aside>
Alright. Now we have to add the Aggregate Rating (which may come from a database).
<aside itemtype="http://schema.org/BlogPosting" itemscope="itemscope"> <meta content="https://purpleheartratingplugin.com/blog/seo-ratings/" itemprop="url" /> <span itemtype="http://schema.org/AggregateRating" itemscope="itemscope" itemprop="aggregateRating"> <meta content="1" itemprop="worstRating" /> <meta content="10" itemprop="bestRating" /> <meta content="3" itemprop="ratingCount" /> <meta content="6" itemprop="ratingValue" /> </span> </aside>
Here is a small description of the above code:
- The worstRating item describes the worst rating that can be made
- The bestRating item describes the best rating that can be made
- The ratingCount item describes the number of votes (in the example above 3 users have rated so far)
- The ratingValue item is the calculated average rating
So for example:
|#1||9 out of 10|
|#2||4 out of 10|
|#3||6 out of 10|
|Average||(9+4+6)/3 = 6,33 ≈ 6|
When you copy & paste the above code into Googles Rich Snippet Testing Tool (HTML field) you will get the following preview:
You see: It shows exactly the same numbers we’ve calculated plus a nice star rating.
If you’re using 100 as a base instead of 10, Google suggests that you’re using percent as a rating-method. Then your SEO rating snippet will look like this:
Cool, isn’t it? 🙂
Don’t want to do everything manually?
Yes, I admit that adding everything manually is not really comfortable. The problem is that WordPress’ built-in editor sometimes removes HTML tags that are not known, too. That’s why you should definitely use a rating plugin that can take care fo that, like our WordPress Rating Plugin. It does exactly the same as you’ve just learned but with a database connected to it. This will calculate all ratings automatically without any stress and without having to touch a single line of code 🙂