Rich Snippets, Poor Descriptions

rich-snippets-poor-descriptionsOrganisations using rich snippets on Google to enhance their search presence may be benefiting from the additional content it provides in search results including author or business profile images, review ratings or product pricing. However, there can be a negative impact of these rich content elements on your standard SEO practices that you may need to address.

Rich Snippets Improve Conversion

Rich snippets are additional elements that make search results stand out or increase the search engine results page (SERP) space allocated to your result. So the impact is that these enhanced results are likely to receive an increased proportion of clicks compared to standard search results.

Negative Impact On Description Meta Tag

The Description meta tag is text hidden in the structure of a web page (so not visible on the page itself) that is often presented by the search engines in results under the link to that page. It is a great tool to help increase clicks through to the web page by making a statement that appeals to your target audience.

The team at e-mphasis have researched over 100 standard and rich results (with truncated descriptions, see example image above) comparing the number of characters of the meta description that are shown. The output of the search was as follows:

  • On average, results with rich snippets showed 10 less characters than those without
  • In the worst cases rich snippet results had over 20 less characters shown in results (141 vs. 162)
  • The proportion of rich snippet results with truncating was 30% higher than standard results

Given that these results are intended to improve the likelihood of generating a click in several cases the descriptions were ended without making their point effectively.

My conclusions are that if you are using rich snippets on your content ensure that your description meta tags are reviewed and ideally shortened to less than 140 characters to ensure that your explanation of the page content is complete.


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