What is it?
Structured snippets is a feature that displays facts about search results underneath the result. As with all the other features designed by Google to provide users with more useful data, the aim of structured snippets is to improve the search experience of users.
In the picture below, the structured snippet is the area within the box.
Google Search and the WebTables team have collaborated on the feature, and the tables are apparently put together by extracting information found in tables on webpages. The snippets extract information from data tables on a web page and then use an algorithm to decide the quality of the data before putting it in the snippet. The snippets can contain up to four facts, theoretically the four ‘best’ and most relevant ones.
At the moment, some search results have a snippet and others don’t – fairly randomly. The quality of the facts also varies across results as Google are constantly improving the quality of the facts displayed.
What effect will it have?
There is some concern that structured snippets will enhance the user experience so much that they might often provide enough information that users will not click through to the original content. However, often there is much more worth looking at on your site (or there should be!) than four facts so it may be the case that structured snippets help attract users to your site as they can quickly see whether you are providing the appropriate information.
What should you do?
Search Engine Land provide a good summary of what you should do next and it all essentially comes down to improving how well your site is optimized for search engines. One important step in ensuring your site displays a structured snippet in the SERP is to ensure your information is easily read by Google (perhaps by altering the formatting and utilizing tables for key points). Another is to take a good look at the quality of your content and facts – something that you should be doing anyway as part of your SEO.
If you want more information on SEO then talk to someone at Search Marketing Group.