Back in December while you were busy with the holiday season, Google rolled out a new improvement to how they sniff through your product catalog, and display it in the SERP.
We're just starting to notice the effect of this change, and wanted to point it out.
There are many types of programming codes that can be hidden inside of a web page. One way or another these hidden codes communicate with other web pages, or provide background interaction with things like databases. There are even hidden codes, called Rich Snippets, that tell search engines how to store information into their database.
Google's been reading and understanding Rich Snippets since May 2009, but in December 2011 they made a few changes so they could better detect this hidden codes on shopping, recipe, and review websites.
The beauty of Rich Snippet code is that you can very specifically tell Google that the name of a necklace is "Pearl River of Snow Necklace (3-8 mm)" with a price of "$28.99" and a product description of "This elegant necklace features natural and dyed pearls creating the illusion of a flowing river."
Instead of letting Google randomly figure out what your product page is about, programming with Rich Snippets provides better control.
Admittedly, Rich Snippet programming is not something you can simply sit down this afternoon and add to your website. You really need to get your web programmer involved. But before you dive into programming your product detail pages, we suggest starting with your breadcrumb trail.
You might think that breadcrumb trails are only useful when you don't want to get lost in the woods, and on a website with many levels they act much the same way. They are named for the very same thing you're thinking of-- a way back to the direction you came from.
At the top of the pages for a very complicated website, you will often see a navigation structure like this:
Home > Online Catalog > Rings
That's actually a breadcrumb trail. You should be able to click Home/Online Catalog/Rings to jump right to those pages. As you move up and down through the website the breadcrumbs also change.
With Rich Snippets you can also tell Google the breadcrumb trail for each page. This feature has been around a while, but we're starting to really see it work in the SERP.
We just did a search for "diamond earrings" and noticed this in the SERP:
(title) Diamond Earrings | Overstock.com
(links) www.overstock.com > Jewelry & Watches > Jewelry > Earrings
(title) Diamond Earrings | Ross-Simons
(links) www.ross-simons.com > Jewelry > Earrings
(title) Pearl & Diamond Earrings - Helzberg Diamonds
(links) www.helzberg.com > Jewelry
Take notice how each link line is a breadcrumb trail. That link line usually shows a green link to a single web page, but in those above examples there are at least 2 links.
On the same SERP we also noticed that Tiffany.com, Amazon.com, BlueNile.com, and Zales.com are lacking the breadcrumb trails. A quick review of those website revealed that none of them are employing that technique.
We're not going to call this an SEO ranking factor, but rather a way to increase customer usability and get more clicks from a single SERP listing.
You might just want to forward this Daily Golden Nugget to your web programmer and find out if they can set this up for you. Here are some directions from Google: