Google recently started a new kind of penalty, which targets rich snippets that are considered as a fake and a spam. Some of the webmasters have even received a new alert.
This is basically to target the websites, which are making use of rich snippets as a spam manner. Although the real reasons for this new penalty and unknown yet.
Defining Rich Snippets
Rich snippets are used to improve displays of the results of the web page. This also includes images and some other details about the website. Google says that rich snippets are designed for summarizing the data and content of a particular page, in such a way that it is easier for the users to understand what the page is all about, in the search results. This extra information or you can say extended information will grab the attention and trigger higher click rate.
What data gets into rich snippets?
You can use some rich snippets, which will depend on the type of content that is present on your site. These types can differ according to the search engine. Current rich snippets are authors, people, products etc.
If you use structured data markup, then you will get rich snippets. By marking up your data and pages, you actually let your pages shoe the most important information.
There is no easy way to implement structured data in an automatic manner, you need to use some tech knowledge and you also have to read some guidelines like Microdata or Microformats.