Google Introduces Structured Snippets in Web Search
Posted on September 29, 2014
Google's latest addition to its web search is "structured snippets", which incorporate facts and data points into individual search results. While this may sound a little confusing at first, it's actually pretty useful. For example, if you search for a "Nikon D7100 camera", Google now displays basic facts about the camera in a box directly under the organic search links. Search for "superman", and in addition to the Wikipedia entry, Google will now show who created Superman (Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), Superman's place of origin (Krypton, of course), and his first appearance (Action Comics).
Google says fact quality will vary based on page content as the search giant continues to enhance the relevance accuracy of facts on display. Snippets are also appearing in smartphone searches.
What Are Structured Snippets?
Right now, whether you see a search snippet is pretty hit or miss. Since Google is pulling this data from the linked websites, the quality is variable. The big pro for users, of course, is that structured snippets make searching for specific facts easier and faster. Google's search results are smarter and more detailed, so users will have to do less clicking to find the information they're searching for. On the flip side, this can definitely be a downside for companies and online publishers. The more information that appears on Google's search results page, the less likely a searcher will visit a company page or website.
Structured snippets are another way that Google is integrating Knowledge Graph information directly into search. Based on initial search query third party testing, search snippets are available for everything from company overview pages and products to events, places and people. For example, search for the Boston Marathon, and in addition to the Wikipedia entry you'll now see the course records and the date the marathon is held. Search a company like Shazam and you'll see the number of office locations along with the founders listed under the Wikipedia entry.
How Will Structured Snippets Affect My Web Traffic?
Since structured snippets now provide additional factual information directly under the search results, webmasters and SEO analysts have already expressed concern that this may diminish web traffic. This is similar to a concern echoed earlier this year during a keynote session at Search Marketing Expo West regarding knowledge graph. Earlier this year, a tweet accusing Google of being a "massive scraper site" went viral. Google's Amit Singhal responded by saying that Google's results are still no substitute for the searcher who wants deep information. While some searchers may just want a quick answer, those that need additional information about a product or service (i.e., those that are already motivated to make a purchase or engage with a company) will still visit that company's website.
Singhal says that a search engine like Google is an amazing Swiss Army Knife, "It's great, but sometimes you need to open a wine bottle. Some genius added that to the knife. That's awesome. That's how we think of the Knowledge Graph. Sometimes you only need an answer."
Singhal also emphasized that in a mobile world, it's simply not possible for individuals to read 20 pages. Sometimes they just need a quick answer, and that's what Knowledge Graph, and now structured snippets, is designed to provide.
Structured snippets are ideal for mobile search and users who need quick access to information, but these are the same folks who might have bounced off a website very quickly once they found the one thing they needed. On the flip side, individuals who are motivated to learn more about a product or service will still be visiting the business's website.
Online version: Google Introduces Structured Snippets in Web Search
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