What are Rich Snippets?

Posted on Wednesday, February 25 2015 by Russ Huntington

You may not be familiar with the concept of Rich Snippets, but you’ll definitely be familiar with Google. So what are Rich Snippets, and how are the two connected?

An Example

There’s a simple answer: when you search for something on Google, the results are designed to be as useful as possible. The better and more useful Google’s search results are, the more likely you are to continue using them for search and the better and more relevant future searches become.

Let’s take an example – if we Google “Kafeneion”, chances are we’re looking for the Kafeneion café bar in York. To that end, our Google search results yield Kafeneion’s website as the first result, with some useful additional information such as the average rating, address and telephone number:

In addition we get a side bar on the results page showing additional data held by Google, including a map, today’s opening hours, and a link to the reservations system:

These additional pieces of information are what we refer to as Rich Snippets.

So, where do these Rich Snippets come from, and how does Google join the dots? Put simply, Google combines several data sources (such as Google Place, Yelp, Trip Advisor, OpenTable etc.) to get a consolidated view of the available information for a specific business. These data sources use a special mark-up schema known as Structured Data hidden in the HTML code to define what data is what, and what business it relates to.

Usefully, you can also implement this Structured Data schema on your own website, and that means you can have influence on the useful data that is displayed on Google’s search results page. Achieving this result is relatively straightforward, and many website services (like ours) offer it as part of the package. For example, a White Menu website will automatically encode all of your contact details, opening hours, and even the Latitude & Longitude of your business location.

The Code

If you’re not using a website service that offers Structured Data, and you have access to your own HTML, you can add it in yourself.

First off, you’ll need to define the type of Structured Data that you are marking up. In the case of Restaurants, we add the “itemtype” attribute to a container element with the value “http://schema.org/Restaurant”:

We can then start adding description properties to the relevant elements as defined by the schema. For example, here we have the Business name and telephone number:

In other cases, we can provide the data in a more specific format to help Google understand complex information more easily. In the example below of opening hours, we add the “itemprop” attribute as “openingHours”, with a “datetime” attribute of “Mo 09:00-17:30”. This means that the business is open between the hours of 9:00am to 5:30pm on Mondays. We can add as many of these as we need to cover the full week.

For more information and the full range of properties that you can mark up, get started with Google’s Data Highlighter.

If you have any questions about using rich snippets or structured data to enhance your restaurant website, get in touch with us!