SEO 101: Make Your Site Stand Out in SERPs With Rich Snippet Mark-Up

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SEO 101: Make Your Site Stand Out in SERPs With Rich Snippet Mark-Up

In recent years, you may have seen reviews, prices, product availability, and other such details showing more frequently in your Google search results. This is no coincidence. This is the result of more sites implementing structured data markup, which search engines use to provide rich snippets. Before we talk about the implementation of structured markup and resulting rich snippets, it is imperative to understand its usage and its relevance among Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

By adding schema markup to your site, you are identifying data on your website that is valuable to search engines and semantic search. By implementing structured data (input form) to your pages, you can help search engines to identify and serve up content that will enable your site to stand out with rich snippets (output form). Structured data defines the types of data on a page and the relationships between them.

I suggest taking a read of the website for a more indepth understanding of the background and evolution of structured data markup.

Structured data has come along way in recent years but to summarize, it is responsible for text that appears to ‘enhance’ search results, designed to give users a sense for what’s on the page and why it’s relevant to their query. This is potentially an excellent click-through trust signal for site users (or not, which we will discover later in this article).

Note that this method of site optimization is not to be confused with sitelinks. Sitelinks can be demoted within Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) and you can give preference. The difference is structured data may or may not be shown, depending on the relevance of a query; sitelinks are more personal to your page and are likely to appear when someone searches for your site name, not a product or service on it.

As an example, the snippet for a restaurant might show the average review and price range; the snippet for a recipe page might show the total preparation time, a photo, and the recipe’s review rating; and the snippet for a music album could list songs along with a link to play each song. These rich snippets help users recognize when your site is relevant to their search, occupy more SERP real estate, and may result in more clicks to your pages.

Will My Website Benefit From Adding Structured Data?

Structured markup data has existed for many years as a format to communicate key information to Google about your site. Historically, this was done using Meta tags. Largely due to misuse and over optimization, Google eventually dropped it as a ranking signal several years ago.

Google has remained consistent in its stance on structured data and although it is not used as a ranking signal, there are many important SEO gains that can improve your overall search performance. Therefore, structured data shouldn’t be ignored.

How to Test if Structured Data is Present on a Web Page

The type of structured data available and different industry uses has ensured that webmasters must now ensure data is not only accurate but also having a positive impact on a sites performance. Google has a handy structured data-testing tool. With the tool, you can fetch a URL (simple copy and paste), see examples of the different structured data code, and validate structured data code that exists on a page.

How do I Add Structured Markup Data to My Web Pages?

Once you have identified you have a use for structured data, there are three steps to implementing rich snippets on your site: Choosing which format of data is suited to your site, selecting the content you’d like to mark up, and testing the mark up is working.

1. Pick a Mark-Up Format

Google suggests using microdata, but microdata, microformats, and RDFa are the three accepted formats.

2. Mark up Your Content

Google supports structured data for a number of (increasing) content types. Some of the most common include reviews, products, articles, businesses, and organizations, recipes, events, and music.

Here are some examples of how this can improve the user-visible text in SERP’s.

A businesses or organization can improve local search by adding phone numbers, address, opening hours and other information that is unique to the business.

Rich Snippet Example

Screenshot taken 29/03/2015 of

This data may also be used to populate the knowledge graph, like so:

Knowledge Graph

Screenshot taken 29/03/2015 of

Musicians can mark up their intellectual property:

Music Mark-Up Example

Screenshot taken 29/03/2015 of

Google also recognizes mark-up for video content and uses it to improve search results.

Screenshot taken 29/03/2015 of

Screenshot taken 29/03/2015 of

When marking up content, you may opt to use Google’s Structured data markup helper. You can select a format, input the URL of a page, and begin to highlight data. This will output the required code to be added to the page.

If you have multiple product pages following a similar template, you can add mark-up to multiple pages within this markup helper. There is a function to select a sub set of pages and apply the same data highlighting method throughout, although you may have to highlight data from a number of these pages to ensure consistency.

Screenshot taken 29/03/2015 of

Screenshot taken 29/03/2015 of

Lastly, as mentioned earlier, use the structured data testing tool to make sure that Google can read, understand and extract your marked-up data. Any errors will be flagged at this stage and this gives you a chance to double-check your markup is accurate.

What Happens After I Add Structured Data Code to My Site?

Once you’ve tested your code and added it to your page, Google will discover it the next time your site is crawled. It is important to note that Google states it may take some time for rich snippets to appear in search results and adding structured data will not affect your pages rankings. There is also no guarantee your markup will appear in results. As with everything Google, there are guidelines to structured data and the there may be a reason your data is not visible. Check Google support here to troubleshoot.

Adding Social Media Markup to Enhance Knowledge Graph

With a myriad of social media profiles scattered across the web and the ongoing debate of which platforms have a positive impact on ranking factors, it is important that your internet property is displayed ubiquitously. By using social media markup, not only can you benefit from linked social profiles but you can also enhance the way your business is displayed in search results and, more importantly, the knowledge graph. The image below shows social media profile details of car manufacturer Audi.

Audi Social Media Mark-Up

Screenshot taken 29/03/2015 of

In summary, once you have decided to implement structured data, you can provide a much better experience for users at different stages with differing intent. Visible data is presented in a much more user-friendly format. While rich snippets are considered an enhancement to results pages, be sure to benchmark site performance before and after implementation and be wary of a reduce in user click-through rate. For example, a user may find your contact details without having to click-through to your site, which may results in fewer site visits. This can be seen as a positive as fewer clicks are required to access data, but be sure to research if that occurs to ensure there isn’t another issue.


Feature image: Credited to (paid).

Jack Cooper

Jack Cooper

Digital Executive at Strawberrysoup
A young professional, a digital marketer and a tech enthusiast. With a collaborative interest in the digital, sports and entertainments industries, I occupy myself with... Read Full Bio
Jack Cooper
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  • David

    Thank you Jack this info is very useful for newbies like me and i want to know how can set up this social media markup? it can be set up from Google webmaster tool or i have to do something else?

    • Boni Satani

      Hey David,

      Here’s the google social profile schema documentation –

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers! 🙂

      • Jack Cooper

        Thanks for covering this Boni. The above link should cover everything you need to know David, but let me know if any of this is unclear. Thanks!

  • Pentago

    Why no one recommends nor discuss JSON markup? I find it much simpler and easiest to implement without need to alter the whole page HTML.

    • Jack Cooper

      Hey Pentago, apologies there wasn’t a specific focus on JSON, but I thought it would be best if people picked there own method of implementation based on resource. JSON is an alternative option in the Google structured data mark up helper, which can be generated by clicking a button.

  • Rick Vidallon

    Jack – I will be the first to admit we need to redesign our site, but we have a constant stream of business from new and existing customers based on our uncompromising reputation for excellent pre and post services; so our attentions are focused on ‘our clients’ for now. With that said; we have a 5 star rating on Google reviews. Why isn’t more ranking importance applied to this citation? Does the the recent mobile ranking shift mean that a crappy company with a mobile friendly site gets upper hand in mobile search and vice versa for other sites?

    • Jack Cooper

      Not specifically Rick, but these are two completely different metrics.

      Firstly, i’d recommend adding a similar tactic to the one above to your reviews, so you have a greater chance your reviews may be displayed in SERPs, although this would be more relevant to brand based search queries.

      Unfortunately, as reports recently show more people searching on mobile devices than desktops these days, Google are not penalising you based on how great your company is or how poor a competitor is, but rather how well your expertise translates on a mobile device.

      Remember Google is impartial when it comes to competing businesses, but it does specify the need for users to be able to find what they are looking for, regardless of device.

  • Kyle Piira

    I honestly feel like not enough Webmasters properly optimize their sites for Rich Snippets. Its especially weird that this hasn’t become common place with tools like Google’s Data Highlighter in WMT that are available for Free. Overall Loved the article and I hope that this will inform people about just how easy it is to start using rich snippets to enhance the user experience. 🙂

    • Jack Cooper

      Thanks Kyle, I appreciate the feedback! I think adding structured data has always been a great idea and simple to do, however it is especially important at this stage following Google’s recent announcement that the poor use of it could land you in a bit of hot water.

  • Daniel Schumann

    I need to say that this topic became even more important a week ago. Since this Google Update, not-responsive websites will rank worse.

    • Jack Cooper

      Yes, and helping Google by specifying which data is relevant to your business, such as location – you should help to improve localised mobile search too.

  • Chris Surridge

    Schema tagging is essential in this day and age with the vast amount of information being gathered and subsequently displayed in search engines. I always advise clients to invest time and proper development into data mark up.

    For new starters, I advise looking at Google Webmaster Tools and simply using the data highlighter tool for your key or parent pages.

    • Jack Cooper

      Agreed! Compared to other elements of search, this is really quick and simple to implement!

  • Yogesh B.

    Markup has been on my mind for years now and today there are a number of options too but is there any automated semi-automated tool which can work offline.

    • Jack Cooper

      Hey Yogesh, not to my knowledge but why would you want to work offline?

  • Kamal

    What is customized search results filter in the results section of

    • Jack Cooper

      Hi Kamal, I’m not 100% but this could be where people have previously implemented code for things like open graph? I’ll do some investigating.

  • Thomas Charlie

    I need to say that this topic became even more important a week ago. Since this Google Update. I also felt like this, Schema tagging is more important ranking factor now a days. because Leading search engine provide accurate search results.

    • Jack Cooper

      It is important to not only implement structured data, but to also ensure it is accurate as Google will be clamping down on people using this as a spam tactic.