Why Were Image Rich Snippets So Good?
Authorship photos appearing in the search results were a great way to increase CTR for blog posts…until Google decided to take them back. These were being abused by many SEO’s who decided to implement authorship markup across their entire site despite Google saying it should only be applied to “posts”, not “pages”.
Video rich snippets were much larger than authorship snippets and were another great way to increase CTR from SERP’s. As is the nature of this industry, many SEO’s exploited video rich snippets by adding low quality videos to their pages, purely to gain the CTR benefits of having an image appear in the SERP’s.
How Important is CTR?
As well as simply getting more traffic to your website, there is also the possibility that CTR influences keyword rankings.
Rand Fishkin from Moz ran an interesting experiment in which he tweeted and asked his followers to perform a specific Google search and click on his article that was ranking in position 7 at the time.
3 hours later the article was in position 1 for that term.
As he states in his article, this is by no means definitive evidence that CTR influenced the search results, but it is definitely something that is worth looking at and testing again.
Why Would Google Take Rich Snippets Away?
A study published on Search Engine Journal looked at the effect that authorship image removal had on paid ad CTR. No surprises here! CTR for paid ads increased, which means more money for Google!
It is safe to assume that with larger images in the SERP’s, video rich snippets were also taking the eyes of the searcher away from paid ads – something that Google would want to stop! That is, unless the site showing the video rich snippets is YouTube (owned by Google). YouTube’s video rich snippets have remained steady but their percentage share of video rich snippets has increased from 47% to 75% in the US.
When asked about video snippets, a Google spokesman said that they’ll “continue to show video snippets where it’s most relevant.”
Obviously, to them this means keeping YouTube’s snippets and removing everyone else’s. Is this really “better relevance”? Or is it being completely biased?
Image credit to SEOlytics.
What Are We Left With?
Star Ratings. Star ratings have been spammed for a long time by SEO’s with many sites simply adding the required Schema code to their page in order for them to appear and whether there is a legitimate ratings system in place or not. Star ratings snippets have been around for a long time and you could safely assume that they do not influence CTR as much as the exiled image snippets. There are a few other types of “rich snippets” but they do not have the same visual impact on the SERP’s.
How easy is this to implement? VERY! You can visit this site and enter what your rating is for, what you want your rating to be, and how many people voted for this rating.
Will Image Rich Snippets Come Back?
It’s not uncommon for Google to test things off and on for a few weeks to gather some data before making a final decision on major changes to their SERP’s. In this case, I would expect Google to see an even greater increase in CTR for paid ads with the removal of most video rich snippets and we are not likely to see them make a comeback, but I would love to be proved wrong on this one!
^^See what I did there? 😛