Google Search result pages (SERPs) are the stage on which content creators compete for the attention of searchers looking for information. While earning one of the lead spots in SERPs can dramatically increase the organic traffic you might earn for your page, rich snippets are the spotlight that guarantees you’ll steal the show (and the click-throughs) from your competition.
So, what are rich snippets? To understand what rich snippets are, let’s look first at what a regular snippet is.
A snippet is a short summary of the content on a webpage that appears in Google Search results.
Snippets are presented based on a search query and appear on the page in a list of other relevant results.
In its evolving quest to improve the search experience for its users, Google has started to enrich its snippets with page information that helps searchers choose which result to click on.
What are Rich Snippets?
Rich snippets (also known as rich results) are Google search results with additional information about the contents of a page displayed alongside the title, description, and URL — making them more visually appealing and helping them stand out from other snippets in SERPs.
The extra information in a rich snippet comes from structured data within the HTML code of a webpage.
Because they have more information than normal snippets, rich results take up more space, boost your content’s visibility, and can increase your click-through rate.
Let’s take a minute to clarify similar terms that can cause some confusion when talking about what are rich snippets. Google has several different types of search features and has evolved the terminology for them over time.
- Rich results
Google rich results are the newest name for what’s commonly known as rich snippets. Google used to call these “rich cards.”
- Featured snippets
Featured snippets are excerpts from a webpage that appear at the top of Google’s search results to answer a user’s question without clicking away from SERPs. There are standard practices for how to get a featured snippet. Though, it’s a different SEO tactic and doesn’t require the addition of structured data to the page.
- SERP features
A SERP feature is any result on a search results page that goes above and beyond a traditional organic snippet. Some common types of results that fit under the umbrella of SERP features are:
- Paid results
- Image results
- Knowledge panels
- Featured snippets
And, you guessed it:
- Rich snippets
How to Use Rich Snippets SEO
In most search result snippets, Google presents searchers with the same three pieces of information:
- Title tag
- Meta description
As searchers evaluate which result is most likely to hold the answer to their question, these three pieces of information don’t give them much to go on.
By referring to structured markup in the HTML code of a page, Google pulls additional information into the snippets it lists in the results of a search query. These rich results help searchers choose the snippet most relevant to their needs and subsequently improve the click-through rate (CTR) of those snippets.
Types of Rich Snippets
There are various types of rich snippets that apply to different kinds of content.
Rich snippet markup is most commonly used for these kinds of content:
There are more rich snippets examples to be aware of, including those that apply to these kinds of content:
- News, media, and entertainment
- Job-related content
For instance, any one of the content types listed above might qualify for these kinds of rich snippets:
A review snippet can be either a short excerpt of a review or an average rating from a review website. When Google finds valid review or rating markup on a web page, it may show a rich snippet that includes stars and summarize other information from reviews or ratings.
Adding structured markup to your product pages gives Google the information it needs to add price, availability, ratings, and images right in search results.
Give searchers a sneak peek at your recipes. Google can pull data such as the type of dish, reviews, ingredients, and cooking instructions into a rich snippet in search results.
Market a future event with this Google snippet example. Include vital data about your event, such as start date, time, duration, and ticket details.
This is just a sample of all the options you have to increase your exposure in search results. Choose the snippet that best suits the type of content you’re trying to promote.
How Rich Snippets Help Maximize Your SEO Strategy
Can you boost your SEO with rich snippets? SEO is a complex discipline, but we do know that snippets alone have no direct influence on your ranking. While having visually attractive snippets may lead to more clicks, rich snippets are not a ranking factor.
That being said, ranking high in Google SERPs is a critical part of your website’s success, but the bottom line is that people will decide whether or not to click on a specific result based on what they can discern from the snippet’s content.
Web entries with rich results objectively take up more real estate on SERPs, visually differentiating them from standard snippets on the page. This increased visibility provides a natural focal point for searchers scrolling through SERPs and makes them 35% more likely to click on your content (CXL Institute).
To close the loop on that idea, CTR delivers on the promise of your SEO strategy. SEO makes sure the world can find you. CTR measures how many people walk through your front door.
To take it one step further…
Logic dictates that if rich snippets enhance searchers’ ability to discern what’s on the other side of a link in SERPs, those who choose to click through have self-selected as more qualified leads.
While there haven’t been any studies to back up this assertion (yet), it’s possible that rich snippets can impact conversion rates as well by influencing the visitor’s perception of your page and its available content before they even click a link.
In short, the potential impact of earning rich snippets makes the minimal effort to implement structured markup a worthy investment of time.
How to Get Rich Snippets
Straight away, I want to emphasize that optimizing your pages with structured markup doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be rewarded with rich snippets in search results. Google is the final arbiter, and they decide which and how many snippets on their results pages will feature rich data.
Additionally, as with all things search-related, the only constant is change. If you score a rich snippet today, it may be gone tomorrow (and potentially reappear the following day, ad infinitum).
All of that being said, it makes sense to prioritize which pages you’ll optimize for rich snippets. Rather than implementing structured data on every page of your site, focus on the core pages at the heart of your SEO strategy.
What is Structured Data?
When SEO strategists refer to structured data, we usually mean the Schema.org vocabulary used to mark up your content. Structured data is at the heart of optimizing your pages to earn rich snippets.
For example, if you have a blog post that includes a recipe for baking a cake, structured data can tell Google what ingredients are required, how long it takes to complete the recipe, and how much success other bakers have had using the recipe.
In other words, structured data helps Google add meaning and context to search results.
Develop a Rich Snippet Optimization Strategy
Taking the time to create a strategic approach to optimizing for rich snippets will increase the likelihood that you’ll implement structured data and reap the benefits.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you create a plan to earn rich snippets:
- Prioritize your highest-ranking pages.
- Include high-conversion pages.
- Match your content with the appropriate type of markup.
- Validate your markup.
- Monitor the performance of marked-up pages.
How to Add Structured Data to Your Site
Even though structured data is a type of code, you don’t need any prior experience with web development to add markup to your pages.
There are several free WordPress plugins that generate the schema markup with the click of a button.
How to Validate Your Structured Data
How do you make sure that your structured data complies with Google’s guidelines?
The Google rich snippets testing tool can provide immediate feedback to validate your code.
Other validation tools include:
How to Monitor Your Rich Snippets
Because rich snippets are a valuable tool to increase the click-through rate from search results, disreputable SEOs have tried to game the system by adding structured markup to pages where it doesn’t rightfully belong.
If Google discerns that you’re adding structured markup to a page that isn’t contextually relevant, you can expect it to block that data from appearing in search results.
Here’s how to filter your Google Search Console* performance reports by the type of rich results on your website:
- After you log in to GSC, select Search Results under Performance.
- On the next page, select Search Appearance and then choose the rich snippet type you want to monitor. (FAQ rich results in the example below.) You’ll see those metrics in the graph above this table.
Further down on the left navigation, under Enhancements, you’ll see all the eligible markup types that Google detects on your site.
If you click on one of those enhancements, you’ll see a report showing pages that are valid, invalid, and have warnings.
Drill down a little further for more detail about which pages Google found that type of mark up on.
* If you’re not familiar with this free tool, you can learn more about GSC reports and how to use Google Search Console in our comprehensive guide.
What to Expect After Implementing Your Data Snippets
Google doesn’t immediately review your structured data markup. Be patient. Every time you tweak your markup, the review time clock resets. It could take as long as two weeks for Google to review your marked-up pages.
Here’s what you can expect after optimizing your pages for featured snippets:
10-14 days after you’ve implemented your markup, Google will begin to audition your snippets.
Google may begin showing your snippets in search results. Not all pages will be subject to the same treatment. Google uses its own metrics to determine which pages it’ll show rich snippets for.
You might see your snippets appear in SERPs for a few days and then disappear, only to reappear again a few days later.
This trial process is designed to crowdsource engagement information from search users. In other words, Google’s trying out your snippets to evaluate how searchers respond to them. This is a similar process to the keyword rank changes described in this article.
The more click-throughs Google observes during this audition period, the better your chance for earning rich snippets for an extended period of time.
- Wait some more.
It could take as long as eight weeks to determine if you’ve earned Google rich results. During this time, Google will repeatedly test your markup — analyzing and testing it to make sure that it’s both correct and engages searchers.
- Keep watching your snippets.
Remember when I said that the only constant in search is change? You can’t take for granted that earning rich snippets means you’ll keep them over the long term. Continue monitoring the performance of your pages that have earned rich snippets.
Rich Snippets & SEO
Getting more attention and boosting your CTR with rich snippets is an important element of a comprehensive SEO strategy. A successful SEO campaign is greater than the sum of its parts, applying a holistic approach to business goals and marketing needs and leveraging a full suite of SEO services to move the needle on metrics that matter to you. If you want to learn more about the power of a Victorious SEO agency partnership, connect with an SEO consultant for a preliminary audit.