Last year Google's Rich Snippets launch initiated a big semantic web push. The snippets enable website managers to show richer search results, making it easier to determine content within a particular page before you've even visited it. The initiative was reviewed at this year's Semantic Technology Conference in San Francisco, revealing usage statistics that will likely influence the future of Google Search.
Even if you haven't heard much about Google's rich snippet movement, you've probably seen it in action. The snippets are what allow Google to provide search results with detailed information, such as venue reviews:
The snippets have been experimental, but recent statistics show that impressions have grown four-fold since October 2009, with a two-fold increase on the US/English Web.
Winning the Popularity Contest
Today Rich Snippets have been implemented in more than 40 languages around the world, and have managed to catch the attention of significant players like Yelp, LinkedIn and Facebook. Naturally, this reaction has inspired Google to to enhance the feature even further.
“We can accelerate the growth of this ecosystem," said Google product manager, Kavi Goel. "At present, only about 5% of the web pages have semantic markup and would like to see it increased to 50%.We are also keen on adding more formats to ensure more support for rich snippets from companies."
The New Search
The bottom line is that companies are working harder than ever to understand user intentions in order to cut out the fat and serve up exactly what is being sought, quickly. In addition to Google, Yahoo recently started packing more structured information such as songs, additional photos, stock prices and sports scores. Meanwhile, Bing's M.O. since day 1 has been allowing users to refine queries for accomplishing frequent Internet tasks, such as shopping or ravel.
"The layout of the search engine results page has gotten a lot more diverse and lively than it's ever been in the past," said Kevin Lee, CEO of Didit. "There's a drive toward relevance and trusted information sources, but also toward potentially being the information source yourself, so you can make more money off of it."
Considering how quickly the trend has been climbing, there's no doubt that Rich Snippets will continue to mold and shape Google's future releases. Unfortunately, growth in this area might also make it more difficult for reputable sites to get noticed -- especially when the search company offers a competing service. Rich snippets also take up more space, which pushing organic listings further down the page.
Until we come to that bridge, however, figuring out whether or not implementing the snippets will do your website good is easy. Check out the Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool.