Snippets are the little descriptions displayed about the link on search results pages. For a long time now, snippets have been auto-generated by Google and you had little control over what the snippet would be – other than the fact that it’s mined from the page it’s referring to. Enter Rich Snippets!
Rich Snippets allow you, the content owner, to specify the snippet language. It’s a way of adding some structure to unstructured data. Snippets can currently be applied to people and to product reviews, more types coming later on.
Here’s some examples of the two types of snippet formats you can use (microformats or RDFa):
Note: This is from a great little article on CMSWire entitled “New Google Tech Fuses SEO and Semantic Web”.
Say that they originally had:
<a href="http://www.example.com/">Jane Smith</A>
With microformats, you specify that you’re defining a person with contact information with the term “vcard.” You use the div and span tags to logically group the information, with div used for multiple pieces of information and span used for single pieces of information.
Using Google’s “Marking Up Structured Data” documentation, they might change this link to:
<div class="vcard"> <span class="fn">Jane Smith</span> <span class="nickname">J.J.</span> <span class="url">http://example.com/</span> <span class="role">Author</span> <a href="http://www.example.com/">Jane Smith</A> </div>
Now they’ve added the context of Jane’s full name, her nickname, her web site, and that she’s an author. To show this same information in RDFa, they might have:
<div xmlns:v="http://rdf.data-vocabulary.org/#" typeof="v:Person"> <span property="v:name">Jane Smith</span> <span property="v:nickname">J.J.</span> <span property="v:url">http://www.example.com/</span> <span property="v:roll">Author</span> <a href="http://www.example.com/">Jane Smith</A> </div>
The opportunity here would be to automate this in SharePoint so whenever snippet compatible content types are used, they are automatically rendered in either microformats or RDFa. For example, the “Product Review” content type. This would be a prime candidate for yet another thing in SharePoint which can be automated to help the SEO cause!