Google’s integration of rich snippets into their search engine results page (SERP) provides yet another way for webmasters to communicate the value of their site. Utilizing micro-formats and Rich Description Framework (RDFa) markup give sites the ability surface reviews and ratings for products, services, and other information on your site. For example, RDFa allows your ratings to be displayed directly in a search result, many times in the form of a star rating. According to Google research, users are more likely to click through on search results that contain this rich content.
Just this week, Google introduced seller rating extensions for paid search ads. Seller rating extensions display your merchant star rating from Google Product Search. A strong seller rating can increase the click-through rate of our paid ads, thus improving your quality score and allowing you to rise to the top of sponsored links while maintaining a low cost per click. This new development is just the start of how integration between SEO and PPC will support both types of rankings online.
RDFa can be applied to more than just e-commerce sites. Many think of ratings and reviews when partnered with products, however they can be a useful tool for educational and informational sites as well. For example, Rottentomatoes.com, a site that provides movie reviews, utilizes ratings and RDFa in order to draw users in from the SERP. Other sites utilize the rich snippet for user reviews of articles, white papers, or even medical publications. Some of these reviews take the familiar form of asking the question “how useful was this information?” or “was this helpful?” And in today’s web, providing that extra content can make the difference.
Utilizing RDFa rich snippets will increase conversion on site, as 63% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a site with ratings and reviews. This is a result of several user trends. First, users trust the opinion of other users. By including a forum for users to review your product, you are establishing a trust symbol on your site. Allowing ratings and reviews can also strengthen your brand; not to mention, acquiring feedback from your users can be an immensely powerful tool in improving your site and product offering. If you want to demonstrate confidence in your product, credibility, and promote the value of your site, there is no better way than to be transparent and present user feedback as one of the first pieces of information that users see on the SERP.
The popularity of ratings and reviews present a great opportunity for affiliate sites to solidify their position as a trusted resource and to avoid being perceived as a “thin affiliate.” Through supplying unique content, separate from product descriptions taken from databases, an affiliate site can be a strong consumer advocate. The Amazon.com model contributes unique descriptions, reviews, user ratings, pros and cons, videos and articles that separate the site from its competition and produce more conversions.
Merging microformats and RDFa into the SERP indicates that Google will continue to facilitate users’ informational searching behavior. Users perform three types of searches: navigational, informational, and transactional. Informational takes the lion’s share, estimated to account for 70% of searches (1). Sites that don’t utilize more informational content run the risk of being eliminated immediately from users’ selection process. It is more important than ever to supply rich, informative content or risk falling behind.
(1) Janson, Booth, and Spink. “Determining the Informational, Navigational, and Transactional Intent of Web Queries.” Information Processing and Management: an International Journal 44.3 (2008). Print.