With a new year comes an opportunity to refresh our current strategies and perhaps focus on new areas that may be otherwise lacking. ‘Rich results’ in particular, are becoming an increasingly important element of contemporary SEO practice – the term itself refers to the list of Google’s special search result features and enhancements, which includes rich snippets, rich cards and enriched results.
These terms are likely to be familiar to any experienced marketer, although the importance attributed to them may be unclear. They are essentially intended to make search results stand out by integrating additional information in the form of pictures, review stars and other key elements.
For everything you need to know about rich results, see our essential top tips below as you look to progress in 2018.
- Acquire Rich Results Using Structured Data
Despite structured data being commonly used as a means of providing information about a page and its respective content, it can in fact also be used to activate rich results.
Whilst structured data by no means guarantees the acquisition of a rich result, users can certainly improve their chances of procuring one in SERPs by marking up content with schema.org structured data (commonly referred to as ‘schema mark-up’). If correctly implemented, certain forms of schema mark-up, namely recipes and reviews, can successfully create a rich result.
The process of implementation is very straightforward you’ll be pleased to know. In the case of a WordPress site, you will have a vast array of plugins available to install in order to add the required mark-up.
- Rich Results Are Not Always Guaranteed
As aforementioned, the application of a structured data mark-up to your pages is an essential step towards acquiring rich results – in spite of this however, Google may in fact reject the opportunity to show them for your site. Here, Google have outlined a range of explanations for why rich results may not exist in its ‘Structured Data General Guidelines’:
- Whilst structured data can enable a feature to exist, it does not in fact guarantee that it will be present. Google’s algorithm moulds search results to generate what it deems the best search experience for the user, and is dependent on a number of key variables including location, device type and search history; it may therefore decide that one feature is more suitable than another.
- The testing tool may not recognise the structured data due to an unrecognised error
- Content data referred to by the structured data may be hidden from the user
- The structured data is not fully representative of the page’s main content
- The Mark-Up Will Not Necessarily Affect Your SERPs Rank
It is important to note that the inclusion of rich results in your listing in an attempt to improve its SERPs positioning in not yet guaranteed.
Despite Google hinting at the idea as a consideration for a future ranking factor, various studies do in fact suggest that there is absolutely no boost from structured data.
Nevertheless, it has been proven that certain rich results have the capacity to increase your click-through rate and can therefore result in more traffic regardless.
- Use Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool
Following the unveiling of its novel ‘rich results’ terminology, Google pioneered a new tool specifically designed for testing them.
The tool represents a new version of Google’s original structured data testing tool and has been principally designed to make page testing and structured data diagnostics more simplistic.
Google stated on its Webmaster blog:
‘The new tool provides a more accurate reflection of the page’s appearance on Search and includes improved handling for Structured Data found on dynamically loaded content. The tests for Recipes, Jobs, Movies, and Courses are currently supported – but this is the first step, we plan on expanding over time’.
It is important to note that the tool is still in its testing phase and does not currently exhibit schema.org syntax errors.
There are also other tools available for testing rich results. A particularly useful tool is SEMrush which provides innovative ways to uncover featured snippets. Using its search domain, it can track which snippets are used and when.
- It Can Take Time For Rich Results To Appear
Before any prospective rich results appear, Google must first crawl and index your site following the application of a mark-up. If necessary, you may check the current status in Google Search Console.
From then, it can take up to three weeks for rich results to finally appear in SERPs – and don’t forget that Google can prevent them from appearing all together!
Our Top Tip: To get your structured data mark-up indexed faster, use Fetch as GoogleBot (found within Google Search Console).
Beware that spamming structured data mark-up could lead to your rich results being disabled and could result in a further manual penalty.
Rich results can be a crucial resource when considering meaningful results and immediately relevant answers.
The notes and tips provided in this article have been delivered to ensure that marketers understand their correct use and value with the aim of enhancing search results in future.