Back in the early days of website design, ranking on various directories and search engines was as simple as putting some info on a page and then crafting your meta tags. Search engines relied on what it said almost disproportionately to what was actually going on with the page itself. Its influence was so weighted that it quickly became misused and frustrating for developers who were playing by the rules as they got outranked by people gaming the system by keyword stuffing.
As it became glaringly obvious that the “honor system” wasn’t going to prevail, search engines quickly began to disregard it and it became the bastard child of meta tags. There were some meta tags that were still useful such as the title and description which gave developers an opportunity to convey what the site was about and there was no threat of misuse as search engines simply wouldn’t rank the site if the content didn’t match.
Other meta tags like content type, robots tags, content language, etc. were also no threat of being misused because if they weren’t correct, a wide host of problems could occur including your website not being displayed correctly. Those tags gave the search engines some of the meat and potatoes of how your site was structured.
It’s insinuated across the board that the meta tags will have no impact on your rankings, but that it does still provide an indicator to the search engines (Google, at least) that it is being used to add to their understanding of what’s on the page.
Additionally, you should make different meta tags for each page you have indexed. Duplicating your meta tags keywords on every page wouldn’t hurt your rankings, but you’d only be doing a disservice to yourself by not taking advantage of an opportunity to give a clearer picture to Google about your site regardless of how insignificant it may or may not be.
Most importantly, Google can smell keyword stuffing a mile away. There will be many who will continue to misuse the keyword meta tag and they’re only shooting themselves in the foot. Andre Weyher stated, “You shouldn’t overdo it. I see a lot of sites with a huge amount of them in the META data. Webmasters need to remember that the more of them you have, the less each one of them is worth!”
To stuff your meta tag keyword area or fill it with useless words like various city names (Atlanta car dealer, Lawrenceville car dealer, Marietta car dealer, etc.), colors (blue car, red car, green car) is a crying shame to waste your efforts on that ignorant decision. Let’s not forget that somewhere in that algorithm lies the schematic of what was once Google’s Wonder Wheel. That essentially means that littering your code with a dozen unnecessary variations is worthless since Google is well aware of the keyword hierarchy. Variances are fine, but within reason.
All of that being said, it’s time to start using those tag areas again, but to keep it in check. Keep your keywords to a minimum and a good rule of thumb may be no more than 6. Think of the top 5 keywords a customer or potential client would use in the search engines to find that particular page and use them. If the variations are too close, replace them with other possibilities. It’s not rocket science. Don’t overdo it and know that you will never be able to game the system for any length of time. We still can’t believe it’s back again.
You can see the Google results pages literally changing right in front of you. What used to be plain text and links now have photos, reviews, and a wealth of useful additions that make it much easier for you to get to the true information that you want. Welcome to the world of rich snippets. How can your business take advantage of these coding wonders, what are they, how do you use them, and what can they do for you?
A rich snippet is a simple coding alteration that tells search engines a lot more specifics about what information is on the page. The practice has been around for a couple of years now, but don’t feel like you’ve missed the boat. Search engines have really just started to fully utilize that data to alter the results and experiment with new uses for it every day.
A good example would be the recipe snippet for the brownie recipe example below. All 3 listings in the example use rich snippets to show you calories, cooking time, photos, reviews for their brownie recipes, and other data. All of which are wrapped in rich snippet coding in the backend of their pages.
What may have even caught your eye is that Google can also analyze the data on those pages and separate out certain specifics which allow them to then provide the additional search options that you see on the left hand side giving the searcher the ability to then narrow their search by cooking times, calories, ingredients, etc. And all of this is brought to you courtesy of rich snippets.
Rich snippets can also envelope product reviews…
…contain information on specific people like positions, titles, and companies…
..show event listings for venues…
…have on page clickable links to media such as song clips…
And so much more….
But what’s even more amazing is that you have the capability to apply this to your own websites and get the advantage of having a better visual search result which will give you an amazing advantage over your competitors.
Implementation of snippets into your coding may be the most time consuming of the tasks, but the impact it offers is huge. You need to be somewhat familiar with HTML coding and if you’re familiar with CSS, you’ll find that it’s pretty much the same type of format.
A product page about a blender may normally look like this:
<b>Price: </b> $100<br>
<b>Description: </b>The best blender ever.<br>
<b>Reviews: </b>”This is the best blender ever!<br>
This code is obviously generic and not typical, but an example of what that same block of code would look like after you implemented rich snippets would look like so;
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://www.schema.org/Products”>
<span itemprop=”name”><h1>Super Blender</h1><br></span>
<span itemprop=”name”><img src=”best-blender.jpg”><br></span>
<b>Price: </b><span itemprop=”price”> $100<br></span>
<b>Description: </b><span itemprop=”description”>The best blender ever.<br></span>
<b>Reviews: </b><span itemprop=”review”>”This is the best blender ever!<br></span>
As you can see, you would simply reference the schema that you’re using (in this case, the one at http://www.schema.org/Products) and then wrap each piece of information (name, price, description, etc.) to properly identify it to the search engines. The search engines then take that data and use them in a variety of different ways. A direct result of its use is the beautification of the search results that has been in place for quite some time now. But what may come next is unknown and it doesn’t look to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Google has released a bunch of videos to help you through the process, so re-explaining it here via text when humans like yourself are visually stimulated would be pointless. So take a look at the videos here and start coding your site accordingly. We’ve also included a great infographic from BlueGlass that provides even more visually stimulating info on the topic.
The diference that you will experience in the way your results look all the way down to clickthrough increases can be immense. It’s time to get coding!