You’ve finally done it. Your company’s website comes up on the first page of a Google search. This is great news and everyone is excited about the excellent results, not to mention all of the revenue this will drive. Then you notice further down the page that one of the links for another company has a tiny picture next to it or additional information in the description. Curious, you click on the link and travel to a competitor’s website. You’ve just been drawn in by a rich snippet2 and all of your customers will be too.
A snippet is the small piece of information that search engines recognize on your page and is returned within a search result. This small piece of information is drawn from a page through an automated process2, and there are ways to manage the results of the information being displayed in the snippet to make sure that it is accurate and helpful in the search results.
The next step is to create something called a rich snippet. A rich snippet can be as simple as an image that has been attached to the link that shows up in the search results. One company’s research showed an improvement of 150% percent in the number of click throughs (CTR) they received.1 (“Click-through rate or CTR is a way of measuring the success of an online advertising campaign for a particular website as well as the effectiveness of an email campaign by the number of users that clicked on a specific link.”5)
To take this to the next level, you can implement something called Google Authorship.4 When properly set up, Google Authorship will allow a company to tag their links with a picture of the person who wrote the article.3 Considering the impact of an increased 150% return on CTR this seems like a simple no brainer to increase traffic for the content that a company is creating.
The true genius beyond setting up Google Authorship is that it will marry a Google+ account with Google search results. It might seem like a small thing but this seamless crossover from search results to social media is something that many companies struggle with and Google has made it plug and play. A potential client can now go from simply looking at a search result, to interacting with a company’s content creator in a social setting.
Google has several simple suggestions to help this process go as smoothly as possible including: making sure that your Google+ profile uses the same name as the one being listed on the content, and to make sure that all the content has a “by,” noting who created it. There is a great deal of anonymous content on the web and it does not take much to add credibility to a site by including an author. When readers visit a site and find an actual author, they are able to research that person and see other things that they have written in the past. People like to know where their information is coming from and trust sites that deliver an author’s information.
Google Authorship also allows for the tracking of a content creators links to see how they are doing. As with everything else that we discuss on this site, it always returns to a measure of the analytics. While the creation of rich snippets will lead to better CTR it will still be a content manager’s responsibility to make sure the content they are delivering is getting the desired return on investment.
As of right now, Google Authorship and rich snippets are relatively novel and getting in on this trend before everyone else will help lend credibility to links created by a site. There will likely come a time when nearly all links have some form of rich data tied to it, but until then this is a way to make a link stand out and grab the public’s attention.
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