Rich snippets provide search engine users with more detailed information about a web page, directly within the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Due to this, they can improve CTR and therefore the number of visits to your site. We’ll explain what they are, the benefits they can bring and two important updates that Google has just announced.
What are rich snippets?
Each result within the SERPs is made up of three elements:
· Page title
Search engines generally use the meta description of a web page to generate a snippet, however if your website contains “microdata”, search engines can generate a rich snippet with more detailed information about the subject of your web page.
There are many types of rich snippets, with the main types providing information about Events, Products and Reviews.
It is relatively easy to “mark-up” your HTML with microdata so that you give search engines an opportunity to generate rich snippets.
Why use rich snippets?
If your website does not have content which matches one of the supported types of microdata, rich snippets will most likely not be appropriate. E-commerce sites are typically the biggest users of microdata as they can generate rich snippets for tangible products and customer reviews.
Rich snippets make your results stand out from other results (competitors) in the SERPs by using stars and images for example; this ultimately increases your CTR. Around 50% of the clicks on a search engine results page will be attributed to the result in the first (highest) position. As we all know, getting to the holy grail of #1 takes time and effort, but rich snippets is a quick and easy way to gain more click share. For this reason they are a necessity if your main competitors are huge companies with big SEO budgets who consistently rank higher than you.
What are the updates?
1. Previously, product rich snippets were only available to websites based in a limited number of countries but Google have now rolled it out globally. As a truly international SEO team this made us jump for joy!
2. Google have provided a Rich Snippets Testing Tool for a while now however previously the tool would only test live web pages. Now it is possible to insert the code directly into the tool and preview the rich snippet before putting the page live.
Our comprehensive SEO audits cover all aspects of organic search, including features such as rich snippets. Contact us to find out more about our SEO audit and services.
Here is the video presented by Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google:
According to Maile, here are the top 5 SEO mistakes:
1. Having no value proposition
As a business owner, you should have a clear value proposition. This value proposition should be clearly highlighted in your website and search engine results pages. Always keep in mind this question: why would a search user select my site in search results?
To do so, make your product or service compelling! Think of what differentiates your business from your competitors and integrate it in your content, page titles and meta descriptions!
For instance, you may be a non-profit organization, you may offer free estimates / demo / audit, or you may be the oldest independent shop in your city!
As an E-commerce, you differentiate from the competitions since you may offer low prices, free shipping, excellent customer service, and of course a great value proposition.
In brief, no need to start your SEO if you don’t have any good value proposition!
2. Having a segmented approach
This may sound a bit theoretical but this is really important.
Instead of having an single approach of your online strategy, you should align with other larger business goals and communication with every department.
You should consider SEO in entire user experience, from marketing campaign to conversion.
For example, your marketing team may have different marketing goals and may want to promote one campaign site, so you should take it into account and add new content and specific keywords into your main site.
3. Spending too much time in workaround
Other useful SEO advice from Google:
- Avoid rel=”canonical” from each component page in a series to page one, use instead new rel=”next” and rel=”prev” markup for paginated content.
- Submit new/updated content to be crawled through “Fetch as Googlebot” in Webmaster Tools.
4. Being caught in SEO trends
According to Maile, websites and search engines were used to chasing users in the past, so they can get more visitors and conversions.
However, today, some websites only chase search engine algorithms! They only think of the optimal keyword density for their content instead of writing compelling stuff.
I totally agree with this view. No need to optimize a website if it doesn't contain any compelling content!
5. Slow iteration
Latest SEO tip: be agile, and don't forget to:
- Define metrics for success
- Implement improvements
- Measure impact
- Create new improvements
- Prioritize improvements based on market and personnel
In a nutshell, according to Google, a good SEO is about to:
- Do Something Cool
- Include relevant keywords in your copy
- Be smart about your tags and site architecture
- Signup for email forwarding in Webmaster Tools
- Attract buzz and natural links, votes, +1s, follows
- Stay fresh and relevant (social media, accessible on new devices, etc.)
Read also 10 other SEO mistakes millions of websites are doing!
Google is currently focusing on semantic search in order to deliver more relevant results.
Let’s review what Google’s semantic search is and what it's going to change.
Google to Develop Semantic Search
In the months to come, the US search company will use more and more semantic analysis to understand the real meaning of a keyword and improve the relevancy of its search algorithm by providing users with direct results.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Google’s search engine will therefore undergo a major transformation as this change is expected to impact between 10% and 20% of overall search queries.
To implement semantic search, the search giant will rely on its huge data base of 200 million of entities including places, objects, and people thanks to Metaweb, a company specialized in semantic data that Google acquired in 2010.
What is Semantic Search?
Google will integrate the semantic to its technology of search by keyword in order to better differentiate the value of information in a web page.
For example, semantic analysis allows to differentiate keywords with more than one meaning, such as the country 'China' and the ceramic material ‘china’.
The search engine will also be able to reply to direct questions.
Semantic Search Isn’t New at Google
Google actually already uses semantic-search elements by displaying answers to direct questions.
For example, a search for “what is the population of China”, results in displaying a graph and the figures from the World bank (1,338,299,512 in 2010).
Google Wants to Keep the Lead in Search
The leading search company has a market share of over 66% (in search queries) and over 75% (in revenue) in the US and isn’t ready to let anyone grab some shares of his cake.
To maintain its leading position against Microsoft Bing, now Apple Siri on mobile, Google has no choice but innovate to stay ahead of the competition.
After introducing the +1 button and social search results, Google clearly wants to stay ahead of Facebook and Twitter's interest graphs, and therefore use other kinds of signals for both search and ad relevance.
More Relevancy and ... More Money
His social network, Google+, will therefore be a key asset for its semantic search since it allows the company to have information on a network of people, companies, places and things, and so build relationships between them to be used in its search algorithm.
Instead of showing users results or ads that just match the terms in their search, Google will have to match ads to their search based on their meaning, as well as their context, location, +1s, relationships, etc.
By providing users with direct results rather than links to other websites containing typed keywords, Google could manage that users would spend more time on its sites, and therefore earn more revenue from advertising that account for more than 90% of its overall revenue.
Google now shows first positions
The change concerns the feature named “Top Queries” accessible via “Search Queries” in the section “Your site on the Web”.
Users will see rankings in search results data differently.
Previously, Google displayed the average position of all links to your website. Now, you will see the average of all the first positions.
How Google calculate the average position?
Let’s take our website as an example (them.pro). If you search for [seo services beijing] on Google, there are great chances that you see URLS from our site in positions 1 and 2, especially if you’re in China.
Let’s say another user search for [seo services beijing], and our URLs appear in positions 3 and 4.
With the old method of calculation, we would have had an average position of (1+2+3+4)/4=2.5 (let’s round up to 3). Now, with the new report, we average the highest position for each search result and therefore get an average position of (1+3)/2=2.
How will this affect my SEO report?
Well, as you may have guessed, when the new method of calculation is used in your Google Webmaster Tools, you will see lower average positions on your SEO report.
Of course, if you only have one URL return for the query, you shouldn’t see any difference (this may be the case for numerous search queries).
What about my previous data?
This change won’t affect your historical data. The new calculation method will only affect your search queries going forward.
How will this affect my website rankings?
No worries, this new method of calculation won't affect your website rankings. It will only affect the way data is computed in your SEO reports.
As you know, we manage a lot of campaigns in many different languages. Therefore, we wanted to conduct a study of quality scores to determine how to decrease the cost of acquisitions for our clients. We already knew that price is part of the adwords algorithm. However, what we didn’t know was that it had such a huge impact on the quality score.
Rlevancy to the users?
What is the relevancy of this to the users? Well, it matters, but not as much as you might think. What matters more is . . . the number of people searching for the keywords. The more the query is searched for, the more chances your quality score will be low!
Why is it that way? Simply put, the lower the quality score, the more you, as advertisers, have to pay to be there.
Example of how it works
Let’s use an example to see how this works. Say you sell a product “productname” that is searched for a lot online. You can clean your landing page and make your product super relevant (you have to do that), but still your quality score will rarely hit 10. Because then you could attract a lot of traffic (remember it’s searched for a lot) for only the minimum amount of money.
Besides, other websites may be willing to pay that price for the same query, which would allow Google to make a lot more money.
Let’s assume that “productname” is searched for 100,000 times a day. If you score a 10, you could pay as little as $0.06 a click. If you have a CTR of 5%, you would pay Google 100,000 x 5% x $0.06 = $300 daily. This means $9,000 per month.
If they give you a quality score of 5, you would have to pay, for example $0.5 on the same query. You would give Google 100,000 x 5% x $0.5 = $2,500 daily. This comes out to $75,000 per month.
So, for very obvious reasons ($), Google makes it harder to get a good quality score for the most popular queries on their search.
Of course, it also depends on the competition, how much the others pay and so on and so forth. But one thing is sure, the more popular the query is, the harder it is for you to get a good quality score, regardless of the competition (and you ad and page quality).
Relevancy is at the heart of the Google search. Money seems to run deep in the heart of the adwords system. Now you know.
Google Search Plus Your World
If you’re in the US, and when you search on Google.com in English, you can now access 2 kinds of results: either classic links from the whole web or links coming from your Google social network (Google+) and photo sharing service (Picasa).
In this new social search, Google displays statuses, photos, circles, and profiles that may interest you from Google+, as well as business & celebrities pages linked to your search. Photos from Picasa can also be displayed.
Here is the official video presenting the new social feature:
Users can simply decide whether they want to get social results or unpersonalized results or not. They can simply choose to turn on/off the toggle button displayed below:
Social Search isn’t New
It isn’t the first time Google includes contents from social networks into its search engine.
In December 2009, the search results page displayed real time status updates from Facebook, Twitter or some blog posts related to the query into a box and then a dedicated page. This feature was removed in July 2011.
In the meantime, Google released the +1 button to its search results page in March 2011. The button was connected to the new social network Google+ in June 2011. Content liked by circles of friends were given priority in the search engine results.
Social Search for Better Search and More Money
With this new feature, Google strives to improve the quality of its search results. However, it’s also a good way to promote Google+ that is still small compared to Facebook and Twitter.
And the idea behind getting more and more registered users is also getting more money from advertisement. Indeed, social networks enable advertisers to run targeted campaigns that are generally more expensive as better targeted.
According to eMarketer, 10.6% of all marketing expenses will be allocated to social network advertising in 2012, so Google wants to get a share of the cake.
A Fierce Debate
Following the announcement, some voices said Google was a threat for the Internet.
According to Wired co-founder, John Battelle, Google excludes Facebook from its social search, and this is harmful for the Internet development.
Some others think Google is pushing its own services too much, abusing from its leading position. According to the famous SEO specialist, Danny Sullivan, the role of search engines is to redirect towards the best information even though not present in-house.
And What About My SEO?
With this new feature, Google makes search more social, and therefore more personalized.
Is SEO dead? As every major update on Google search, not it isn't, it will just evolve. Previously to this announcement, Google decided to turn on secure search for signed-in users, affecting many search queries.
If you aren't familiar with Google+, I'd recommend you to read why your should create a Google+ page.
What do you think about new Google social search feature? Are you excited about it? Do you fear it? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
However, as you may know, those techniques are actually reprehensible by the search company itself.
Indeed, according to Aaron, the request This post is sponsored by Google in English makes more than 400 pages containing sponsored posts by Google, and a do follow to the download page of Chrome.
However, in its good practice SEO guide, Google flays paid links and advices against using do follow links in sponsored posts.
Matt Cutts, Google’s head of spam, even previously considered those techniques as spam (by the way read our previous article to see how SEO differs from spam).
The question everybody wonders is whether Google would be punished or not. Other companies such as JC Penney, Forbes and Overstock (as well as Google Japan) were severely punished by the search engine for using paid links.
Google hasn’t made any statement about this yet. Let’s see what the search company decides to do with its own page.
A study released in September 2011 and led by True Action Network shows Click-Through-Rates (CTR) for every ranking position of Google's Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
From an SEO point of view, what do we learn? 1st ranking position (what I call pole position) isn't as attractive as before!
Everyone agrees to say that having your website ranked on the 1st page of Google search results is extremely important as it gives you visibility, as well as drives traffic to your website.
However, the 1st ranking position is less important today than a few years ago according to the study. Indeed, the 1st ranking position CTR has decreased since 2006 and actually benefited to the 4 following positions.
The study was based on Google Webmaster Tools data from major e-commerce players which are also True Action Network’s clients.
The data enabled the company to compute the number of times when a search result is clicked compared to the number of times it is displayed (CTR), and then compared to AOL data dating back to 2006.
The sum of all CTRs reached 52.5% in 2011 (vs. 49% in 2006) meaning that over 1 out 2 Internet user clicks on organic results on the 1st search results page. 13% click on ads, and the remaining on other links such as Google Images, Videos, Shopping, etc.
|Position||CTR (AOL, 2006)||CTR (TAN, 2011)||Growth|
The 1st ranking position attracts less Internet users than before: less than 1 out of 6 in 2011 vs. nearly 1 out of 4 in 2006.
On the contrary, CTRs of search results ranked between 2nd and 5th positions dramatically improved (over 50%).
What does it mean for your SEO?
Findings of the study should help you understand that SEO isn't about the 1st position only. There are great chances that working to rank several keywords on positions 2, 3, 4, and 5 is more effective than focusing on getting the pole position only.
Related article: CTR comparison between Google and Bing.
Google recently released its 2011 Zeitgeist highlighting how and what the world searched in 2011. The search company also published a ranking of the fastest rising searches in every country, including China.
1. Japan Earthquake 日本地震 (Rìběn dìzhèn)
One of the most powerful earthquakes in the world that hit the Japanese Pacific coast in March 2011 and resulted in massive damage.
2. Naked Wedding Era 裸婚时代 (Luǒ hūn shídài)
Very popular Chinese TV show that talks about a young couple who is in love and wants to get married despite all their financial problems. In extension, the term “naked wedding” refers to a marriage without material prerequisites such as flat, car, and fancy wedding ceremony.
3. Discount 折扣 (Zhékòu)
The third most-searched term in Google in 2011, mainly because Chinese Internet users are fond of finding good deals online.
4. Libya 利比亚 (Lìbǐyǎ)
Following the revolutions in the Arab countries known as the “Arab Spring”, Libya underwent a civil war in 2011 that led to the end of Muammar Gaddafi’s political regime.
5. Kung Fu Panda 功夫熊猫 (Gōngfu xióngmāo)
American computer-animated action comedy movie very appreciated by the Chinese people. The sequel to the 2008 edition was released in 2011 and starred many famous actors including Jackie Chan.
Apple is one of the most appreciated brand in China, so are the second generation of the US company’s tablet computer.
7. Android 安卓 (Ān zhuō)
Though Google as a search engine has difficulties to succeed in China, its OS for mobile devices is quite popular in China’s smartphones market.
8. Transformers 变形金刚 (Biànxíng jīngāng)
Another blockbuster movie appears in the most search keywords on Google China in 2011 (the third edition was released last summer).
The most popular Instant Messaging (IM) in China for iOS such as iPad, Iphone and iPodTouch.
10. Weixin 微信 (Wēi xìn)
A more and more popular mobile instant messaging (similar to Whatsapp in the West) by Tencent, a Chinese company well-known for its QQ IM.
What other Chinese keywords did you search in 2011?