Rich Snippets, making Google understand your site better

Wouldn't it be great if you could tell Google what different parts of your webpages meant? So if for example your site regularly displays events, you could tell Google the date, time and location so that they appear in the search results.

You can in fact now teach Google how your site displays specific elements of data. You have for a while been able to mark certain types of structured data by adding micro-data markup to your HTML. But this new google webmasters tool makes it even easier and provides a easy to use non-code method.

How to use the webmaster tool

  1. Login to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
  2. Select the URL of the site you wish to work with
  3. Select Data highlighter under optimisation in the navigation on the left.
  4. Highlight strings of text that would be typical snippets of data and label them in the drop-down menu that appears
  5. The way Google now understands your website appears on the right hand site of the tool window
  6. Once you’re done highlighting and labelling one page, click done and Google will show you similar pages within your site and how it would label data then.
  7. Make corrections to the shown data until you’re happy with it and then hit “publish”
  8. Google will now apply this pattern to your whole site no matter how big it is.

This video is a good step by step guide to the tool: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrEJds3QeTw

For the moment, Google’s webmaster tools only support this method for “events” but in future they will introduce support for other rich data like:

  • Reviews
  • People
  • Products
  • Businesses and organizations
  • Recipes

What does it mean for me?

This means for web site managers with no specific HTML knowledge it is now easier to teach Google to understand the structure of your site and to display important search results in a logical way to the users.


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