Understanding Rich Snippets For Local Search

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.

From Google:

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.


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

8 Reactions
  1. What looks that google wants more ways to charge for results, more and more to own internet content. They want to suggest what we type and now “suggest” the results….

  2. I may be missing something, but I seriously doubt Google will give relevance and credibility to Websites that generate and host their own review page for their own services and products. Just a thought.

  3. “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.”

    I agree with Lisa. In spite of what may be motivating Google, it seems that there will be benefits for users as a result. Time will tell.

  4. No doubt, Google wants to profit from this, but with every other tool they provide there is substantive value to the small business owner. I’m happy to see them profit because they provide immense value to me and my small biz. Yeah, they sometimes push my boundaries, but hey, so does Facebook, Yelp, Twitter… That’s life. The info they glean from my use of their apps (which I do try to limit) is a fair trade in my view. I have Google Email, Documents, Apps, Analytics, Website Optimizer, Google Voice and the list goes on. Free.

    They are a rising tide and I want my boat on it.

  5. Andre makes a good point, but I’ll still be testing the effectiveness of this.

  6. Is this some sort of marketing ploy that Google intends to monetize in the future? Perhaps, Facebook has been putting their sales on the low as marketers realize the value for money that it offers when it comes to targeted advertising. I’ll give rich snippets a try and see for myself how effective it is. Thanks.