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A Guide To Rich Snippets, Schema & Microdata

I have been scouring the Internet in my quest to learn more about microformats and using schemas, but unfortunately, the majority of posts that I’ve found are from authors trying to exaggerate its difficulty level in order to make something quite simple sound more technical.

With that in mind I thought I’d try and clear the air a bit and create a beginners guide to rich snippets, schema and microdata.

What are Rich Snippets?

Way back in 2009 Google decided to add rich snippets to their search results helping users find more information on a large variety of subjects including people, food recipes, events and reviews. The goal being to help webmasters advertise their content better, and giving users as much information as possible before they made the decision to click through to a website. Check out an example of a recipe rich snippet below:

How have rich snippets evolved over time?

Over the last few years Google have added many more types of rich snippet to their armoury including products, video, music info, restaurants, business organisations, people and authors. As you can see below the snippets provide more eye-catching options than the review above.

Video example:

Music example:

Author example:

If you are yet to add the Rel=”author” tag to your website check out Ben’s excellent post; How to Implement the Rel=”Author” Tag – A Step by Step Guide and Microdata

Fast forward to 2011, and in a surprisingly kind act, Google agreed to work alongside Bing and Yahoo! to support a set of schemas that could be used across their search engines to help improve search results, and more importantly, offer the chance of superior visibility for the savvy SEO consultant or company. The schema alliance has since been joined by the Russian search engine Yandex, and they are apparently open to other search engines joining them in the future.

So what is

As they say here; “ provides a collection of shared vocabularies webmasters can use to mark up their pages in ways that can be understood by the major search engines: Google, Microsoft, Yandex and Yahoo!”

In its simplest terms is based on microdata. Each kind of data can then be described by the schema vocabulary. This means that Schema vocabulary + microdata formatting added to HTML content = Happy webmasters who can markup their pages to further improve their visibility in the search results.

There are many different types of vocabularies available via, ranging from job listings and movie information, to bakeries and liquor stores. You can find out whether your website is relevant to schema by checking out this rather long list.

An example of schema at work

There are 100s of different schemas that I could have chosen for this example but, as I am new to Verve and this is my first post, I thought I’d use the person schema. Using the excellent Schema creator tool courtesy of Raven Tools, I was able to create my personal microdata within a minute!

Microdata example:

Which produces:

Now, the second image is only a preview but as you can see in the first image above, this example is simple to understand (even if you were coding it manually!) and was quick and easy to create. Once you have added the microdata to its relevant page you can check it via Google’s rich snippet tool to find out whether it will be read by Google et all, and isn’t full of errors.

Benefits of adding microdata to a website

Beyond the person schema being a cool thing for your ego, or the ability to add a nice review to your lasagne dish, should you be looking to add microdata to your site? The benefits of doing so are below:

1 – Eye catching results – Drawing a search users attention from your competitors and to your own result.

2 – Potential CTR increase – Possibly increasing click through rates and lowering the chance of the user ‘bouncing’ as they have more information on the page before clicking through (there is also the potential to put off users if the increase in information shows something they are not looking for).

3 – Providing ‘quality’ results – Offering results that are closer to user specifications (again, however, there is a chance that the user is only reviewing information, for example – the price of a pair of football boots. Had the microdata not been there, the user may have clicked through and been convinced to make a purchase).

The future of rich snippets?

Considering the time and resources spent by the larger search engines combined with their evolution it looks like rich snippets are here to stay, so what do we think could happen in the future?

1 – More relevant search results? – The schema alliance are aiming to create a more semantic web, will this bring improved usability, happier users and better search results? We hope so!

2 – Increased rankings? – There have been a few posts discussing how rich snippets can increase CTR, the main one being via Search Engine Land. The question is; will they ever gain substantial weight within the algorithm and help increase rankings in the future? The potential is definitely there and you should expect a rush to add them if it is ever publicly announced by Google.

3 – More time spent on Google? – The counter argument to rich snippets has been that by supplying so much information, the user may never need to click through to the website offering more quality information. This is, after all, what Google really want – more of your content, more users spending longer on their site and more users spending money with them.

Gaps in the market?

With hundreds of options and rich snippets still in relative infancy (when reviewing the majority of non SEO related search results anyway), where do we feel there are gaps that could be exposed by rich snippets?

Reviewing Google search results over the last year or so if I was to own websites, or work with clients within recruitment, professional services (dentists, electricians, plumbers etc) or health and beauty business markets, I would be discussing rich snippets pretty quickly!

Homework/Further reading

If that wasn’t enough goodness for you we have more information on schema via Google, Bing and Yahoo! below:

Google: Introducing Search engines come together for a richer web
Microsoft Bing: Introducing Bing, Google and Yahoo Unite to Build the Web of Objects
Yahoo: Introducing A Collaboration on Structured Data
Schema blog

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26 thoughts on “A Guide To Rich Snippets, Schema & Microdata

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  4. Law

    A nice beginners guide for rich snippets this. It’s a complicated topic so I have had trouble finding a good guide for my newbie friend.
    Even bigger respect for using Burial’s music as your music schema example :)

  5. Karen Quach

    I am relatively new to the world of SEO and I am currently learning about rich snippets and the basics of coding. My questions are, once you have that schema, where do you put it? The head? The body? Also, what is the easiest way to input it? Such as through Google Webmasters, Google Tag Manager, or directly into the built of their website (like WordPress).

  6. Blaine

    So like the commenter above me, I too am looking for knowledge on schema markup. I do mainly word press sites and am admittedly a bit late to the schema game. However I do think this is getting bigger and want to get on board with it.

    I’ve found the schema creator tool listed here in your post to be very helpful. Thanks for listing it. Also on it’s page it there was a link to the wordless schema creator plugin. I’m going to go play with this plugin and see what I can come up with. I really need to get this down and I think I’m over complicating the whole matter.

    Thank you for the resources!

  7. Gareth Morgans

    Great article – thanks for sharing those useful schema tools!

    Shame Google have dropped authorship from SERPS but I hope they develop their algorithm to include schema and microdata in the future.

  8. Rob Johnston

    I just wanted to give you guys a big shout out and thank you for this awesome post. I have only started to work with snippets and was having a hard time with all of the contradictory information. is good, but it is quite technical and not ‘for idiots’ just like me. After reading your post I can say that I now generally understand what I need to do in my own site. Again, thank you kindly for taking the time to put this blog together. That was plenty of goodness! :-)

  9. Akshay Peddi

    Thanks that helped me a lot. :) my question is what is the difference between & Rich snippets or they are the same…??

  10. Ashley

    I really want to try this but every time I add the code it appears physically on the web page. Is there any way to do this so it only appears in the meta data to be read by the search engines?

  11. TNC

    This is one of the best schema and rich snippet article.

    Thanks for sharing these useful information, which help me to understand the importance and how to create them.

    Btw is there a difference between Rich Snippet and Schema?

  12. Nick van de Veerdonk

    Hi Ben thanks for a great article!

    Not too long ago I have added Microdata markup to my website and found it strange that 99% of the websites out there hardly use any markup, and/or often (including the Genesis theme) full of errors. Besides the obvious and SERP visible rich snippets it was VERY hard to find websites that had extensive implementation.

    Do you have an explanation for this? Is the learning curve to big, not worth the effort, has the initiative failed? Love to hear your opinion!

    Kind regards,


  13. David

    My business shows multiple pages. I am using a site builder because I am not that great at this. I am wondering if I should put my shema info in the header or before the end of the body tag. That’s the only option I m given. It shows this info on every page, but I have more then one location. So my question is cn I put more then one city in my schema and can I put this code anywhere?

  14. Gokhan

    Hi Ben, really a nice guide for beginners. Sorry for my question but where to put this microdata code within a page? I don’t have a problem with creating the code but when i put it on the relevant product page, it shows up on the page and it doesn’t look nice. Shall I hide it? IF so how to hide it? Thank you.

  15. James

    Hi Ben,

    I’m new with schema markup but I’m learning :D What I want to know is how to have a star rating in my snippet? I tried agrregate rating but it’s not showing the star rating in Google Search.. Pardon me for such dumb question but it would be much appreciated if you can give some tips!

    Thanks! :D

  16. Yasser Moosa

    Thank you for the advice. I’m doing on-page SEO for an Australia client of mine of one of the things he could improve upon is Schema. I’ll check out the Google’s rich snippet tool. Hopefully it’s not too complicated too integrate into his pages. It is a ranking factor now, so definitely worth looking into. Thanks again :)