As search engines and the structure of the web continue to advance, it becomes ever more challenging to provide information in a way that is both user friendly and easily read by search engines. It also becomes more important to differentiate your search results from those of similar content. One method of doing so is the use of ‘microdata’ tags to identify the key information on the webpage and pass that information on to the search engine. Using microdata allows the search engine to display the search results as a “rich snippet” rather than a simple link and description. The library of structured data types continues to grow and can be implemented in varying levels of detail. In this post, we’ll take a quick look at what rich snippets are and where to find out more about them.
So what is this microdata structure?
Microdata, as defined by http://schema.org, is rapidly being adopted by the larger players of data driven content, and is the recommended method of providing data to Google, Yahoo and Bing for use in their rich snippet result displays. It began with a very basic set of broad data types and has evolved into a collection of very detailed items that allow all of the major search engines to classify a given web page into a specific resource type. Microdata are additional HTML attributes which, when applied to the various elements of a web page, classify those elements as containing specific types of information. The information can be anything from the location of a business or school, to an offer of a product for sale or an indication of a user rating system. When used in combination, the elements provide a great deal of information for the search results to use in displaying an entry for your page.
How does Google use rich snippets?
When your search pages have structured data defined, you will get enhanced results such as the following examples:
In each of the above examples, the link and description for the page contain additional information and links specific to the page being presented. For more technical specifications, directly from the source, head over to the Google Webmaster Tools recommendation on rich snippets.
How will we use microdata and rich snippets?
By adding these structured data attributes to our pages, we can begin to improve the search result displays for all our partner content, including adding rich snippets for all of our school search and scholarship information. Be on the look out for continued improvements in this regard in the months to come!