Rich snippets can boost your site's performance dramatically in two major fashions, by increasing visibility to the search engines, improving CTR (click through rate) and building greater profitability. They do this on two closely related fronts.
Search Engine Results Pages
First, by implementing RDFa rich snippets, microdata or microformats, data can be categorized per a specific ontology, which classifies the data very specifically, in a manner that allows the search engines to understand what is meant.
That allows the search engines to match your pages to a search query with greater relevance, improving the SERPs (search engine results pages) quality, and providing results that better meet the users' needs.
By providing users with SERPs that are more relevant to the query, it makes it easier for them to select the site that seems to present the information they are seeking. That will result in a higher CTR, which means more targeted visitors arriving on your site.
Another underlying value in this is that users will typically be more receptive to conversion efforts after a positive search experience.
Although the total number of visits can decrease when your pages are returned in more relevant situations, the fact that your visitors are highly targeted will mean your conversion efforts will have more chance of success.
This translates to improved ROI (Return on investment), with the attendant rise in profitability.
How difficult is it to implement RDFa Rich Snippets?
While RDFa necessitates the utilization of some specific structure, it's really no different in that respect from any other markup language. There are several ontologies available for RDFa, however, where as some other markups, like microdata and microformats are more limited.
As a result of this expanded flexibility in ontologies, it's possible to categorize data in a more meaningful fashion, linking to references both on and off the internet. This has the added benefit of augmenting the already growing body of Linked Data on the web.
Someone that is already familiar with HTML or XHTML can learn the additional requirements of RDFa implementation relatively easily. Those that are not familiar with coding with markup language, however, would have best served hiring an SEO professional familiar with the process.
Very large sites, particularly eCommerce sites, will typically be more easily upgraded via a redesign, but smaller sites can often be incrementally upgraded on the original document set.
The bottom line
With the increased visibility to the search engines, and enhanced relevancy of your pages to search queries, the benefits of implementing RDFa rich snippets should be obvious. Usage of RDFa increased by 510% during 2010, making it the fastest growing markup language.
The increased CTR and improved ROI make the decision to upgrade even easier. Implementation of this technology results in benefits for the user, the search engine and the site owner.
It also contributes to further progress towards the realization of a true Social Semantic Web, by linking your pages' data to other data, off-page and even off-line.
Regardless of which method you select, rich snippets can bring all of these results to your site. So what are you waiting for? Your competition may be moving in that direction already.