SEOs Get Ready For 15% Reduction In Google Rich Snippets

Oct 28, 2013 • 8:38 am | comments (46) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google AuthorAs many of you know, Matt Cutts, Google's head of search spam, announced at PubCon that you should expect a 15% reduction in the amount of rich snippets and authorship displayed in the Google search results.

There are several threads, including one at WebmasterWorld where webmasters and SEOs are preparing for the reduction in the richer display in the Google search results. Many noticed increases in click through rates and thus higher sales and traffic because of the increase in CTR. But if your site doesn't make the cut and you are part of the 15% reduction, how will you recoup?

To me, it makes sense. Why show rich snippets for all sites that have the markup? Google should reserve them for sites that they deem authoritative enough to display them. There are tons of spammy sites marked up with it. Let alone sites abusing it and spamming rich snippets.

A year ago, it seemed Google began cutting back on displaying rich snippets. This is all while making it easier for sites to mark up their pages. Heck, my authorship dropped out for several months and eventually returned - likely due to a bug on Google's part.

One person at WebmasterWorld said:

So why did Google ever give rich snippets to low quality sites in the first place? It doesn't take a genius to realize that this would be a magnet for spammers. They should have tried to exclude low quality sites from the beginning.

Are you surprised Google is reducing the rich snippets shown? Probably not. But all that effort Google put into convincing webmasters would benefit from it and then to take that away from 15%, just doesn't seem that nice.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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10/28/2013 01:28 pm

It's a learning curve, both for webmasters and Google. To show the snippets in the SERPs for every single page that uses markup was going to be a problem sooner or later.... For Google to now reduce the amount of snippets being shown is only logical and makes the data - where shown - more relevant and authoritative. It's not about marking up your data - it's about what kind of data you mark up ;-)

Greg Fowler

10/28/2013 01:53 pm

I think it is a good move by Google. Heck my site may be a part of the 15 percent...just may need more work to do on it....that it all.

Stephane Brault

10/28/2013 02:53 pm

this => "it's about what kind of data you mark up"

Durant Imboden

10/28/2013 03:53 pm

I think the reduction in rich snippets will have less to do with "low-quality sites" than with pages that shouldn't have been displayed with rich snippets in the first place. Not too many months ago, marked up hundreds of thousands of boilerplate e-commerce pages with an employee as the "author," and for a while, the employee's name and byline were showing up in Google's SERPs. That obviously wasn't the kind of thing that Google had in mind when it created the Google Authorship project, and it didn't take too long for's rich snippets to disappear. IMHO, it's likely that, in commercial categories, the reduction in rich snippets will be far more than 15 percent, while for more purely informational searches, there could be an increase in the number of rich snippets. (It's worth noting that Google recently made a deal with Typepad and to insert authorship markup automatically on pages whose authors logged onto Typepad or with Google+ accounts.)

David Deering

10/28/2013 03:54 pm

Rich snippets can definitely give a page an advantage over competitors in the SERPs. But as many less-than-honest webmasters quickly discovered, they can easily be abused and manipulated, too. So Google's move makes sense. We should no longer think of rich snippets for our sites as automatic, but instead as something that we need to earn. But just remember that there is still tremendous value in marking up your site with structured data, even if your rich snippets do not appear.


10/28/2013 04:04 pm

"But just remember that there is still tremendous value in marking up your site with structured data" Any proof ?


10/28/2013 04:16 pm

A bit unrelated, but worth reading : Google is unreliable. It can give up on anything, previously done, just because of "some bizarre “Googley” metrics". Case, described above, is just another example.

Michael Lindsey

10/28/2013 04:31 pm

It's definitely the right move on Google's part. It seems as though every search you do has authorship images for that particular search query and it leaves me wondering how many of these are actually authoritative sources for their industry. It makes the point of rich snippets useless if everyone is deemed an authority just because they have rel="author" in their header.

David Deering

10/28/2013 04:32 pm

JustConsumer, I'm referring to the real value and purpose of structured data markups--they help search engines better understand your page and the various elements on it. The rich snippet in Google is, you might say, an added bonus.

Yo Mamma

10/28/2013 04:37 pm

Hee, hee hee ha ha ha this happened a long time ago when Google zapped faces from their SERPS. A long time ago. NO good reason either. Google just thumb sucked why you or your competitor was 'worthy'. Google is slime. Slime must go bye bye

David Riccitelli

10/28/2013 04:38 pm

That doesn't mean people should stop marking up their web sites, of course.

Yo Mamma

10/28/2013 04:40 pm

Read my post. Many were dumped a long time ago. Those dumped cannot re-surface no matter what markup u think correct - Face boxed lol vers SAND BOXED

Yo Mamma

10/28/2013 04:41 pm

No matter. If u don't pay Google you will not do well under their wing

David Riccitelli

10/28/2013 04:43 pm

That shouldn't be the unique reason for lifting up your content.

Yo Mamma

10/28/2013 04:44 pm

Its about what Google thinks is an authority site. Not about what pages are marked up. Only one OF YOUR snippets will show on 1 Google search page no matter if your site is show 6 times

Yo Mamma

10/28/2013 04:45 pm

'Lift' your content if you like. Pay someone else to lift it for u. Spend 1000's of hours lifting it. If Google hates u, all that backache will just be for nothing


10/28/2013 04:47 pm

Sure, these snippets were used for spam, but what's the bigger reason in moving forward with this? Why would Google want higher CTRs on organic results? Why not lower CTRs for organic results, which increases CTR of Adwords ads? More moneyyy


10/28/2013 04:55 pm

And I'm referring to the fact, that this "real value" has no any reliable proof. But time, one must to waste on this, has real value. "they help search engines better understand your page and the various elements on it" According to Google they must help, but I don't see in reality that they do help. That's why I'm asking you to back up your statement about "tremendous value". Probably I missed something.

David Deering

10/28/2013 05:05 pm

Well, the Knowledge Graph is proof, for one, as is semantic search.


10/28/2013 05:08 pm

A 15% reduction in rich snippets is no big deal when you have already lost 80% of your Google traffic!

Durant Imboden

10/28/2013 05:09 pm

Authorship is a work in progress (like so many other Google products that start off at public betas). For what it's worth, most of the rich snippets that I see are several pages down in the search results. My own byline and photo appear on my blog posts, but not on my more authoritative (and usually higher-ranked) main site.

Durant Imboden

10/28/2013 05:14 pm

For what it's worth, I started adding article markup and link="rel" pagination to my multi-page articles back in mid-August, and since then, I've noticed big traffic increases for many of those articles (some of which had been around for anywhere from a year to 10 years). Coincidence? Maybe, but I'm guessing not.

Michael Lindsey

10/28/2013 05:15 pm

True Durant. At this point I'd think it would be a smart move to establish your authority early on as I am sure it will only get tougher as people see the advantage later and try to jump on the bandwagon. I put my authorship markup in my main sitewide header so it appears for my home and all blog posts.

Michael Lindsey

10/28/2013 05:17 pm

Because if Google focuses so much effort on Adwords it will lose it's primary search base which is more interested in organic results, not paid ads. Those ads won't be worth much if they have no base because they have run for Bing.

Durant Imboden

10/28/2013 05:22 pm

Why would Google want higher CRTs on organic results? Maybe because happy searchers are more likely to be repeat searchers. Remember, too, that most searches aren't "transactional," If John Doe is searching on "Mother Teresa" or "pancreatic cysts" or "regulations in importing cats into the EU," he probably won't be clicking on ads anyway (assuming that any ads are served). As a practical matter, Authorship (when it works correctly) shouldn't have much impact on SERPs for transactional queries. If Jane Buck is searching for "cheap hotels in Toledo," she probably won't see any rich snippets on the first page of Google's search results (although she will see plenty of ads).


10/28/2013 05:24 pm

How Knowledge Graph is proof ? Knowledge Graph is just huge database. Sure it's structured as any database. Semantic search is just the way to extract data from this database. "According to Google, the information in the Knowledge Graph is derived from many sources, including the CIA World Factbook, Freebase, and Wikipedia.[1] The feature is similar in intent to answer engines such as Ask Jeeves and Wolfram Alpha. As of 2012, its semantic network contained over 570 million objects and more than 18 billion facts about and relationships between different objects that are used to understand the meaning of the keywords entered for the search." Why website owner must waste absolutely valuable time and use markup ? Because Google can select data from it's own huge databases, that's why ???


10/28/2013 05:56 pm

I use them - But I must agree... After years of listening to Google and doing any and all the good things they "recommended" - I was punished. The relevancy of Google has gone down, therefore the searches have followed. To stay number one you have to remember what put you there to begin with (relevancy). To lose sight of this is catastrophic (IMO).

Rahul Trivedi

10/28/2013 06:21 pm

You are right Kevin. Do you lost your traffic and ranking by penguin and hummingbird?


10/28/2013 06:33 pm

It took me THREE clicks to land on actual article on your website. Then I have to make endless number of clicks to read it all. Your website has very poor structure. Real articles are hidden deep inside the website. No doubt bots have hard time to discover them. In your case markup is a must, because of the outdated website structure. But most of the websites have perfect structure, where article is accessible in one click and is presented on one page. There is absolutely no reason to take your experience as a positive example of markup unless one has same outdated structure.

Durant Imboden

10/28/2013 07:49 pm

"But most of the websites have perfect structure, where article is accessible in one click and is presented on one page." I have yet to see a Web site with thousands of pages where you can access an article with one click. What a mess its home page would be! And presenting "an article on one page"? That makes sense if you're writing 500-word blog posts, I guess. For in-depth content? Not so much.


10/28/2013 08:17 pm

The point is, that your website can't be an example of successful markup usage, because markup in your case is like a walking stick for an old or sick person - s/he can't move without it. re " I have yet to see a Web site " Well, it's not a secret for me, that you have a lot to study )

Durant Imboden

10/28/2013 09:58 pm

No, structured markup and pagination are benefiting my site because they make it easier for Google to understand that, for example, an eight-page article about [topic] (a) is a single, in-depth article about [topic] and (b) has dedicated, named sections about {subtopic1], [subtopic2], and so on. It's a win-win for the rare Web publisher who produces in-depth content: The [subtopic] pages continue to do well in Google for targeted queries about those subtopics, but the article also gets a boost for its overarching theme. Of course, structured markup isn't just about helping articles to rank; it may be to help a business become more visible in local listings, for example, so that the searcher who's looking for the name, address, and phone number of a hardware store or veterinary clinic can find that information quickly and easily. Bottom line: If you don't think structured markup has value for you, then don't use it. But don't attribute stupidity to everyone who shares your ignorance.


10/28/2013 10:15 pm

Exactly, your website is so bad, that it needs help, so bots would be able to understand it. I just want others, who will not dig into your words, will understand, that your case is totally unique. Your website is so outdated, that it must use markup to be understandable for the bots. There are no evidences, that websites in good condition will benefit from it.


10/29/2013 10:07 am

it exactly what they do now - lowering CTR on organic results. Very easy reason - money, and let matt cutts keep telling us what it not true, we know it very well. They decided to convert search engine into short-term cash cow.


10/29/2013 02:12 pm

One question will be how will this affect the review and directory sites like Trip advisor, yelp, YP, etc.? When you search on a vacation or hotel in Antigua, you get a 100 reviews, but not for a single page or site. Was this Google's intent? To rank whomever could show the most aggregate reviews? I don't think so, but I doubt it will affect those sites.


10/29/2013 02:41 pm

The intended use for the markup makes no sense on a fundamental level, and it's incredibly easy to abuse. Putting a rel=author link to your G+ profile doesn't make you an authority. Posting a bunch of blogs all over the internet on one topic doesn't make you a qualified expert either. This system is just a way to force people to use G+. The whole idea is crap. I work in a commercial industry and one of my opponents has implemented authorship on every single page on the website, including the home page. A reverse Google image search of the "author" proves she isn't even a real person. Or, if she is, she has about 40 different names and really likes to provide testimonials. I've reported them to Google for rich snippet spam twice and yet their authorship remains intact. And she doesn't even pretend to be the author of the content on a given page, the text around the link says "Page edited by ______". Edited. By a fake persona. Why in the world should that show up in the SERPs? It's ridiculous.

Michael Lindsey

10/29/2013 05:10 pm

If you really want action when reporting abuse to Google you need to use the Googleproducts forums. You also need to make sure you are steadfast in your complaint on there. Many of the higher level members work for Google for each specific subtopic, and if the complaint is a viable error on their end they will actually bring up your specific example in their team meetings and update you on progress.

Kenneth von Rauch

10/29/2013 07:36 pm

Perhaps they did not limit this feature to high quality sites only because they don't really know how to granularly tell the different between a decent and a sucky site?


10/30/2013 01:11 am

Hi kevin,May I ask what google traffic is ?I an a beginner of google seo ,Thanks!


10/30/2013 04:48 am

Not making sense to me. Google requested webmasters to mark-up pages on their sites with rich snippets. Is Google asking a reduction in the number of rich snippet displayed or reduction i the number of pages marked-up marked?


10/30/2013 05:38 am

Taking the pessimistic side here but someone will be there trying to game even this. Why don't search engines come up with a universal standard via which ratings and reviews can be verified. For starters, Google could bring up a directive that reviews only with Google+ could be added and similarly Bing could use Facebook for the same. An aggregate based on this would be the way to go while featuring reviews....

UK Finance Hound

10/30/2013 08:58 am

But they are still promoting google+ so hard. Just received an email from Mr G saying they have a unique URL for me to use now for my Google + page


10/30/2013 06:56 pm

Thanks for the advice, Michael. I hadn't even considered posting there. Found the section for rich snippets & structured data and will post something soon. I do have some qualms about publicly posting this kind of information though - their URL, the person's picture/profile, and the specific queries that are affected. I agree that I would have to be steadfast and post all the evidence available. But with all the brand monitoring tools we've got set up, I imagine I would be alerted if someone posted something similar about my company. I would like to avoid drawing their attention to my complaints if possible. What do you think?

Michael Lindsey

10/30/2013 08:12 pm

You can edit that part out since you're just asking a general question not specific to that information. Those questions are more relevant to if you need specific help to your site.

Shital Bhalani

12/20/2013 06:10 am

While we believe that our sites are fine from quality perspective, Google does not think similarly. They think their own way and ultimately users have to suffer.

Matt Fielding

12/20/2013 12:17 pm

"Google should reserve them for sites that they deem authoritative enough to display them" This isn't what's happening. My personal blog is pretty new so hasn't built up much trust/authority, but some posts that previously had authorship markup now don't, while others remain. Therefore it would seem Google is removing it based on page-level metrics rather than domain-level.

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