Have you ever noticed how some search results contain “extra” information beyond the simple title and description? Things like stars, the company a person works for, job description, location, awards, and reviews sometimes appear in search results for queries related to people, products, and services. These pieces of “extra” information are known as rich snippets.

Here’s what they look like:

Here’s Google’s introduction to rich snippets:

Rich snippets provide webmasters with the ability to add useful information to their web search results snippet. The purpose of rich snippets is to present users with more information about the content that exists on a page so they can decide which result is most relevant for their query. And this may result in additional traffic to your site.

Still not following? See if this helps (h/t @jcolman):

The nice thing about adding rich snippets is that it’s relatively easy to do. All you have to do is add some basic mark-up to your existing pages.

While there are a variety of ways to add rich snippet mark-up, Google recommends using microdata from schema.org. Google also provides a tool for testing your rich snippets code. And here’s a handy schema creation tool (although it’s not as thorough as marking up by hand).

Google currently supports the following rich snippet types:

  • Breadcrumbs
  • Events
  • Music
  • Organizations
  • People
  • Products
  • Recipes
  • Review ratings
  • Reviews
  • schema.org markup for videos
  • Software applications
  • Videos: Facebook Share and RDFa

The “for Lawyers” Part

If you’ve made it this far in the post, you’re either thinking wow this is pretty cool, there are a lot of ways I can see how I can use this on my web pages.

On the other hand, you might be thinking that this makes a lot of sense for recipes and movie reviews, but can’t see the applications for a lawyers.

If you’re having a hard time connecting the dots, here are a couple of ideas of how you might be able to incorporate rich snippets into your law firm website:

  • Person – Contrary to popular belief, lawyers are actually people. You should consider marking up your bio pages with person attributes. Especially name, description, image, affiliation, alumniOf, awards, and workLocation.
  • Attorney – Yep, there’s even specific schema for attorneys (which really means law firm). In addition to some of the basics, I recommend adding aggregateRating, events, geo, maps, photos, reviews, telephone, founders, foundingDate, and members.

Of course, if you’re going to add reviews, ratings, and/or testimonials, make sure you do so compliant with your state’s ethics rules.

You might also want to add schema to:

  • Events – Including speaking engagements and seminars.
  • Organizations – Including professional organizations and associations of which you are a member.
  • Breadcrumbs – Especially those that highlight important pages like awards, testimonials, and organization membership.
  • Videos – If you have online videos, you should be marking those up too.

While Google currently claims that they don’t directly use rich snippets in their ranking algorithm, there is little question that providing users more information in search results increases click-through. And more click-through probably is a positive ranking signal. Further, it wouldn’t surprise me if future iterations of the algorithm give more weight to microdata. After all, information like education, years of experience, awards, affiliations, significant cases, and relationships can be pretty good signals about attorneys.

As the web and search evolve into more personalized, social, and interactive media, details like rich snippets can be a huge competitive advantage and help in distinguishing your expertise.