Rich snippet spam penalised

There has been speculation that Google is looking to introduce an “author rank” whereby the more authoritative an author is; the more likely their snippet is to appear.

We’ve seen quite a few changes with rich snippets in recent months, primarily the reduction in the amount of snippets appearing in the search results (particularly a reduction in authorship). In relation to authorship, there has been speculation that Google is looking to introduce an “author rank” whereby the more authoritative an author is; the more likely their snippet is to appear.

In line with this, Google recently announced that they were going to begin penalising sites for poorly implemented rich snippets code and schema – in cases they consider spam. This has the potential to affect quite a few sites, particularly small business websites where webmasters perhaps don’t fully understand how to implement rich snippets.

The update is designed to stop the abuse of rich snippets and those who violate Google’s snippet quality guidelines; the types of action that are not accidental (marking up reviews that don’t exist or hidden text). The jack- in-the-box, however, is that this also affects authorship being added to homepages.

This seems like a bit of a biggie: many people misuse authorship and add it to a corporate homepages, when in fact the publisher tag would be the correct one in these situations. Heck, even if you run a personal blog, it’s not advised to add authorship to the homepage – only add it to specific posts that you’ve written.

Steering on the right side of these recommendations and avoiding a manual penalty isn’t hard, but it could be a little confusing if you’re just starting out online. I doubt we’ll reach the point where small blogs that have improperly implemented authorship will be penalised, or at least I sincerely hope so, but for big brands (or even SMEs) this could pose a potential issue.

Double check how you have any rich snippet markup on your site, or get someone else to check if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. Remember that Google isn’t obliged to show your snippets, so staying within their guidelines is only going to increase your chances.