You’ve probably taken notice weeks ago. Although Google just made the announcement on September 22, a lot of people already saw the tiny tweak they did on the SERPs even before that. Known as ‘structured snippets’, these are the little gray details you will see underneath a search result.
They contain customized info based on what type of query it is for. For example: structured snippets for companies usually include office branches and founders; while snippets for products carry specifications (weight, size, color, etc.). Not all results will have this feature. It’s usually only the first one OR the first four that will contain a structured snippet. It’s also possible that the second or the third search result will get this extra information instead of the first one.
According to the official Google announcement, this project is a collaboration between them and the WebTables research team to provide better, relevant data to all users. But where is this coming from? Using a combination of advanced algorithm and other techniques, they extract these facts from tabular data already available on the web page.
Let’s take the example of a superhero keyword search. If you type in ‘batman’ on Google, the first thing you’re going to see is a a Wikipedia result. Underneath that, it will list the creator and first appearance of the character. All these help the user to easily identify the most important details related to his search.
Google and WebTables have also developed a system that prevents them from picking up irrelevant data, such as tables utilized for web design purposes. People looking for quick facts will hopefully find this new feature handy. With structured snippets, it’s possible to get a glimpse of what you want without having to go directly to a page.
As this cannot be generated manually, how can SEO experts control this discovery? The answer: you can’t. What we can do for now is observe how this will impact two crucial aspects of optimization: web design and content marketing. First things first: are you more focused on optimizing for social media OR search engines? Either way, structured snippets will hopefully help you in providing better data for your users.
In terms of web design, tabular data can make large amounts of information look more organized. That’s why Wikipedia uses it a lot. However, if it’s not necessary, there’s no use implementing only to get Google’s structured snippets. For content marketing, offering tabular data – especially for commercial products – is a great way to deliver your message. Online audiences can conveniently find important details in an instant; thereby building a better user-experience and hopefully, more clicks.
So where is all this going? For now, no one knows. As SEO consultants and industry experts, we must remain alert as well as constantly test our theories to see how far we can go. Whether or not structured snippets will create an invaluable impact needs additional evidence. If you’ve read about Google’s structured snippets but would like to know more, don’t hesitate to ask your SEO consulting services for their take on this new search feature.