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Evidence that Google really loves rich snippets

     
7:38 pm on Sep 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

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... given that talking to someone at Google is about as hard as talking to someone on the planet Pluto, i was surprised to get a proper email from an actual human being a few months ago (with his own personal google email address, not a department). he was basically saying that he noticed i had a few rich snippets on my site, and suggested ways to improve them, explaining how i can get the description in the SERPS to feature all of this rich-snippet info.

i duly did what he said (because they were good suggestions) and i'm still getting emails from him now - a few months later. He is pointing out individual pieces of mark-up from individual pages, and saying his engineers cant process them properly and they need me to make some adjustments.

obviously google must be doing this to bazillions of other sites too, asking them to perfect the rich-snippets so they can crawl them better. I am a big cynic when it comes to Google, so i know full well that they are not doing this for my benefit -- they want to combine all this free info and put it at the top of the SERPs, or onto their own Google-owned pages.

But I find it interesting that Google is going around looking for sites with rich snippets, in a detailed fashion, and asking the owners to adjust it so they can grab the info better.

incidentally... my SERPs position has plummeted for a few phrases that are related to the rich-snippets, and i'm half-convinced that its because they contain hidden text (which is fairly normal for rich snippets). has anyone else seen the same?
9:59 pm on Sept 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

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incidentally... my SERPs position has plummeted for a few phrases that are related to the rich-snippets, and i'm half-convinced that its because they contain hidden text (which is fairly normal for rich snippets). has anyone else seen the same?


You lost me with that. I was thinking that "rich snippets" would be content-rich paragraphs, sentences, etc. It must be something else. If so, what?
11:31 pm on Sept 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

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[google.com...]
12:12 am on Sept 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Here's a recent discussion we've had about rich snippets in this forum, which should suggest status of how they're beginning to roll out in the Google serps. The discussion also includes links to other threads and references about the topic....

Bullet Points in SERP description, is that new?
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4355288.htm [webmasterworld.com]

Given the slightly apprehensive nature of the opening post, you might also want to read this discussion...

Pros and Cons of Rich Snippets and Microformats
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/3912217.htm [webmasterworld.com]

I've come to think, as the algorithm has evolved, that Google likes rich snippets because they provide both a more granular and more testable user experience, allowing Google to measure and improve engagement within Google and to deliver search results more precisely. Anecdotal evidence I've heard suggests that Google is making use of rich snippets in rankings.

I still have concerns that rich snippets and microformats make data aggregation easier (see my comments in the above thread)... but publishing our pages online is essentially letting the cows out of the barn. All the rest is just making it easier to herd them, and also easier to find them.
11:51 am on Sept 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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one interesting snippet that came from my email conversation with them, is that one of the reasons google are interested in rich snippets is because they are planning to plot all of the events on their local maps.

no doubt they will provide links to ticket sellers as well, like they already do for hotel rooms.
...another vertical they want to compete in.
12:38 pm on Sept 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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For one of my sites Rich Snippets provides me with a picture in the Google SERPS as well as two additional lines. That has to be good when much of the competition do not use Rich Snippets.

Mind you, if Google use it seriously then many smaller websites will increasingly be left behind because it's not that simple to implement

Bing Dude also reckons that Bing will be using Rich Snippets in the not so distant future.

If you're not using Rich Snippets to the full at the moment then my advice is to do it now.
1:53 pm on Sept 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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obviously google must be doing this to bazillions of other sites too


Are you US based, just wondering?

I was a Google beta tester in the 90s and I've had AdSense from the very start, I was invited by e-mail as a publisher, not once, ever, have I had a call from Google about anything.

Either they're following my model or it is a very selective process trying to assist some publishers.

Does anyone have any idea as to why some people get real calls and the rest of us remain wondering?
2:44 pm on Sept 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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UK based... and the rich snippets are to do with business locations and events

im pretty sure they're not trying to assist publishers. they are trying to work out how best to use rich snippets for their own pages, and need some regularly updated stuff to test it on.
3:18 pm on Sept 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Locations and events, that makes sense.
11:09 pm on Sept 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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londrum which format are you using - microformats, microdata or rda? Any preferences, pros/cons?
1:02 pm on Sept 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I met a webmaster recently who runs sites that effectively 'scrape' to provide a service. He said he loves microformats as it makes it so much less time-consuming to code the scrape elements of his system. He likened it to XML in it's standardisation.

I love the idea of rich snippets but after that conversation have been more reluctant to use them in case I get scraped more. Any thoughts?
1:39 pm on Sept 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I recently implemented microdata on a 1,500-page site dealing with hotels, restaurants, etc. No change in rankings, but also no rich snippet info is showing up in the serps either.

Do we know for sure that Google is currently using microdata to show rich snippets in the serps?
2:07 pm on Sept 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I met a webmaster recently who runs sites that effectively 'scrape' to provide a service. He said he loves microformats as it makes it so much less time-consuming to code the scrape elements of his system. He likened it to XML in it's standardisation.


that pretty much sums up my email conversations with google. they look at my rich snippets, and ask me to make changes so its easier for them to grab it.
5:02 pm on Sept 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Which kinda makes me think, all well and good having nice snippets on Google to attract extra CTR (love the idea) but if it makes it easier for your site to get scraped, leading to a possible Google penalty down the line for dupe content, maybe it's too risky?
11:51 am on Sept 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Any thoughts on just making them google viewable?!
Ie if they are asking for specific info just for their benefit then surely their own ghosting rules cant apply!?

$ip=$_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR'];
$ip = substr($ip,-15,6);
if ($ip=="66.249"){
$microdata=true;
}

?
5:59 pm on Sept 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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they contain hidden text (which is fairly normal for rich snippets)

I'm not sure this is a good idea. I think they would prefer that you just mark up the visible text, not add a lot of hidden text unless you absolutely can't help it. From schema.org:

More is better, except for hidden text. In general, the more content you mark up, the better. However, as a general rule, you should mark up only the content that is visible to people who visit the web page and not content in hidden div's or other hidden page elements.
7:38 pm on Sept 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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i actually asked the google guy that (because my SERPs plummeted a bit and i wondered if that was a reason), and he said there was no penalty for hidden text in rich snippets.

there's lots of stuff that you can include like longitude and latitude numbers, that nobody would want to make visible
8:11 pm on Sept 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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OK, as long as there's no penalty... but in the case of lat and long and that sort of thing, doesn't that text actually go in meta elements, so that it's not actually hidden text but rather metadata?
8:43 pm on Sept 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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i think you can do that yeah, but if you've got something like an events listing with 10 different events/locations on the same page, then the only way of doing it is by putting it in the <body>. you can stick it in with other stuff like the address and telephone
 

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