Shaad Hamid

Oxford SEO and PPC Consultant/Blogger

Is Google testing and cherry picking rich snippets?

| 1 Comment

I’m not entirely sure if this is something new, but I’m seeing Google display weird listings on the SERPs lately. OK let me try and be a bit more specific. I was manually monitoring rankings for a website I’m helping out with and noticed they were ranking on the first page today (for their most competitive keyword phrase). What was weird was that the site’s set up the following schema on the same page:

  • authorship,
  • ratings, and
  • location schema,

Before today Google would usually override all other rich snippets opting to only display authorship on the SERPs. Sadly I don’t have a screen-grab of how wedding belles photography used to render on the SERPs, but this is how it appears when using the Structured Data Testing Tool.

However, today instead of authorship, Google’s rendering the ratings rich snippets instead of the authorship rich snippet, like so:

What’s even more strange is that Google’s rendering both authorship and ratings schema when searching for the brand name wedding belles photography:

It’s very clever on Google’s part for being able to distinguish the most suitable schema to display. Initially, I did test both rich snippets, authorship and ratings on the home page and noticed  that Google gave preference to authorship when both mark-up were on the same page. However, since Jon’s fairly active on Google plus – and I was encouraging him to start blogging – I didn’t ask him to remove the authorship tag from the homepage, even though I personally felt that ratings rich snippet would be more useful from a CTR perspective (since wedding photography oxford would be a commercial query more than informational). But to my surprise, Google’s doing the sorting for me.

Seems like Google’s trying not to display authorship for transactional and geographically specific queries. Google used to display the following listing when someone searched for Oxford SEO:

Oxford SEO

The above listing had authorship and local business schema displayed, but today it seems like Google’s removed both these rich snippets for the search queries Oxford SEO and SEO Oxford and included Google places listings:

Oxford SEO today's results

Oxford SEO

SEO Oxford

SEO Oxford

Looking at the above listings it seems like Google is testing out different rich snippets based on the query type – e.g. authorship for informational queries, and ratings/reviews for commercial queries. Also could it be that Google’s trying to figure out which rich snippet to display based on the on-page mark-up?

Have you noticed different rich snippets being displayed on any of your sites? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Author: Shaad Hamid

Shaad used to be an Oxford based SEO and PPC blogger, consultant and citizen journalist. He has recently moved to Dubai and is currently working as an SEO Account Manager at DigitasLBi. He is passionate about internet marketing and is the SEO lead for numerous clients from diverse sectors such as FMCG to Travel & Tourism. Find Shaad on Google