Earlier this week I had a lot of fun putting together a presentation for (a thoroughly excellent) SMX Advanced. Originally I was going to broach the (often slightly) dry topic of using Person Schema (or hCard) to get “people” rich snippets for author pages. As it turns out, using hCard or Schema.org on an author page to get a rich snippet doesn’t work. That’s a different story and one I’ll come on to in another post. This story’s quite a lot more interesting.
Late on the eve of my presentation I was stressing that my test didn’t work and I needed a near total rewrite of my presentation for the “Schema and Authorship, One Year On” session. With Game of Thrones playing in the background, I had my moment of inspiration.
“How many review rich snippets are our retail clients competing with on page 1 of Google’s search results?”
Rich Snippets (Review Ratings) Increase CTR by 5%
Late last year, we carried out some testing with SERP Turkey to examine the impact that a range of changes to the description wording may have on click through, depending on intent. As a side note to that experiment, we introduced a rich snippet to the a/b test, which yielded a measurable, significant change to click through.
During the testing we introduced a third variation (the inclusion of a rich snippet) in the transactional scenario. The final result was perhaps unsurprising. The transactional variation received 21.52% CTR. Our rich snippet, transactionally worded variation won at 26.32% CTR. The rich snippet version in the test, ranking in 2nd place was easily receiving more clicks than 1st place. That conclusion really makes a dent in reliability of arbitrary click through rate studies, because let’s be honest with ourselves, they’re nonsense.
Rich Snippets Increase Your CTR but Everyone’s Doing it
Surely they do and unfortunately, they are. My moment of inspiration was to come up with a quick way to measure the saturation levels of rich snippets reviews in search rankings. More specifically, to revise the question:
“How many keywords in my top 500 referrers are competing with a review rich snippet on Page 1 of Google’s organic results?”
I think this search result sums it up nicely; there are so many options to get eyeballs on your content, video, image, etc; so are you so sure rich snippets are the right strategy?
With a little help from Dan, we nailed the method to measure exactly that – SERP saturation of review snippets across a set group of keywords. Here’s the outcome:
Nothing to see here! In SEOgadget’s top 500 referring keywords from Organic search, 13% share page 1 of the search results with at least one site that has review rich snippets. A pleasantly surprising and uncrowded result. Now, compare it to our retail site – PrezzyBox, long-time SEOgadget friends and clients, who kindly allowed us to perform the same check on their top 500 referring keywords:
Wow – Fewer than 9% of the top 500 search queries have no review rich snippets on page one. I suppose that’s hardly a surprise but nonetheless, the retail space seems quite saturated with organic rich snippets.
Measuring with SEO Tools for Excel, and xPathOnURL
As it turns out, if you request a Google search result from SEO Tools for Excel, or Google Docs, you get the non-Js version of the search results pages. When there’s a rich snippet visible in that particular SERP, a div container styled with
class="star" contains a
".". You can detect this, and even count the number of occurances to work out how many of them exist on the page.
Here’s a simplified version of the SEO Tools for Excel Query:
So you can use that to work out if the marker is present on the page, wrap it in an IF statement using the same principles in this post on how to check if a link is still live.
The same formula works in GDocs, just swap XPathOnURL with ImportXML
Here’s what you can build:
This is a snapshot of one of my dashboards, where I’ve got snippet, shopping, video and image data combined.
Here’s how to get result data from organic search including a count of the number of image, video and shopping results:
Get Advanced Web Ranking – it’s the best rank checker in the market and it scales well with a decent proxy. To collect image, video, news and shopping results in the data, you need to create a campaign with Google Universal (in your country). Collect the rank data as usual, and head to the “Data” tab. From there, use the “Split the results into Organic, images, video, news, shopping” check box.
From here you can construct a really rich dataset, and start considering this important point: just because everyone else is doing it, should you? Here’s the presentation:
Image credit: San Diego Shooter