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Rich snippets are extra bits of text, data or visual content that appear in the abstracts or summaries of a Google search engine results page. These can take many forms, including bits of informational text, visual formats such as ratings or other icon indicators, small profile pictures, etc.
Rich snippets serve to "dress up" search engine results to make them more visually attractive to users. They can be integrated in many ways, with different data formats and uses of HTML code. For example, linking certain pages to social media platforms can create rich snippet results. Webmasters can also use microdata or other methods. The type of rich snippets that go into a result depends on the type of content being promoted. For instance, a number of stars with a numeric rating works for products or other rateable services. For other results, an author photo may be more appropriate.
Google refers to rich snippets as "structured data markup" for Web content and helps provide tips at its "Google Developers" page. Google maintains rich snippet support for various categories such as product information, recipes, reviews, events and software applications. Google also offers a structured data testing tool to test rich snippets for display results.