There was an important announcement on the Google LatLong blog last week that small business owners should be aware of it and act on. In it, Google announced that they would be supporting rich snippets for local search to help business owners tag content as being associated with their businesses.
Today, we’re announcing that your use of Rich Snippets can help people find the Web pages you’ve created that may reference a specific place or location. By using structured HTML formats like hCard to mark up the business or organization described on your page, you make it easier for search engines like Google to properly classify your site, recognize and understand that its content is about a particular place, and make it discoverable to users on Place pages.
If you’re not familiar with Rich Snippets, Google has set up an information page to help you learn how to use them for local search. In short, Rich Snippets use structured markup to label the content on your Web site to tell the search engines that it represents a certain type of data.
For example, if you have a review on your Web site that includes the name, address and phone number of your restaurant, along with the rating, date and description of the review, you’re only making this available to customers. To search engines, it looks like nothing but a string of text. By marking it up and telling Google this is a review, they know to pull it when that information may be helpful to a user. To further help Google pull the appropriate information, you should use this form to tell them about your content.
Why is Google suddenly so proactive about encouraging users to use Rich Snippets? Because they want to be able to aggregate the information on a local business’s Google Place Page. They want to pull in reviews and other information related to your business. And they’re looking to do it in a way that doesn’t rely on any sort of partnership deals with third-party providers like Yelp.
Regardless of Google’s motives, I’d encourage small business owners to mark up their content whenever they can. The more information you can give Google about the information on your site, the more Google can use that information to help users find you. Whether it’s pulling in reviews, related blog posts, or news articles about your business or events you’re involved in, the more positive “stuff” you can populate on your Google Place Page, the better.
To learn more about Rich Snippets, I’d recommend reading Google’s Rich Snippets help documentation and checking out their Rich Snippets testing tool. Both serve as great resources for small business owners.