Search engines collaborating together have the same time frame as Halley’s Comet, about every 76 years. I’m obviously over exaggerating, but it doesn’t happen too often. I do know for sure that when they do collaborate and make a statement, I’m going to listen.
Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! got together in June to create schema.org, a structured data markup schema. The goal was to agree on a single markup format and language to make it easier for webmasters. This is a two way street because search engines want the correct on-page markup to understand webpages and provide richer results. Meanwhile, webmasters have a resource telling them how to best create rich snippets and improve traffic.
Webmasters were using microdata, microformats, RDFa, and Facebook Open Graph and the search engines felt that there were too many competing formats. While I feel schema.org doesn’t solve all problems, it does provide an efficient road map.
If you’re marking up your content to create rich snippets then you are ahead of the game. Take a glance at schema.org to make sure you’re following the standard. If you are not following the standard or just not sure, use this tool to preview what your rich snippets might look like and extract your structured data.
When a search is done for a non-branded keyword all the results look very similar. Optimizing your rich snippets helps your website stand out from the crowd so effective calls to action will prompt users to click on your link rather than your competitors. Users probably don’t have a clue to what a rich snippet is, but they do know what they are looking for and if your short description catches their eye and is relevant to their query than you have done your job. Chances are that they are not the only person running this query, so multiply that by a thousand and you have built yourself a nice click-thru rate.
Google currently supports rich snippets for the following content types: reviews, people, products, businesses, recipes, events, music and video content. Your content most likely falls in one of those categories. Once you have marked up your content remember to test it with Google’s tool.
Which markup syntax is your company’s website using? Will you switch to schema.org? Let us know in the comments below.