- What are rich results?
- How can marketers benefit from using rich results?
- Importance of optimising content for rich snippets
- Top tips for optimising for Google rich results
Google is constantly rolling out updates for rich results to create a better search experience for internet users by making it easier for them to find the answer to their queries.
Rich results (also known as rich snippets or enhanced search results) are graphically enriched snippets that include more information than the conventional search result, such as images, ratings, reviews and other quantitative data.
You’ve probably come across rich results many times on Google search engine result pages (SERPs). For example, suppose you searched for “Chicken casserole recipes”. Google will display a featured section highlighting the most relevant rich results, which appear with images, reviews, cooking time and a snippet of the ingredients list.
As rich results appear in more visually stimulating formats than traditional results, the likelihood of a user clicking through to your website also increases as your results stand out more in search.
With the new year around the corner, now presents an ideal opportunity to refresh our current strategies and focus on new areas that may be otherwise lacking. In particular, ‘Rich results’ 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.
While these terms are likely to be familiar to an experienced marketer, the importance attributed to them may be unclear. For everything you need to know about rich results, see our essential top tips below as you look to progress in 2022.
What Are Rich Results?
A web page has hundreds of uses, and there are even more ways to code and structure it to help bots understand the meaning and intent behind these pages when they crawl and index your site.
A snippet is simply the formatted display of information that Google uses to display to users. However, the rich snippet is designed to make key information about a web page more prominent by eliminating guesswork which helps searchers understand whether that page is relevant to their query and allow search engines to present results more accurately.
If you want to maximise your SEO opportunities and optimise your content to rank in the featured snippet, you’ll need to tag up:
- breadcrumb trail
- contact information and logos
- sequential carousels
- social profile and search box information
You can also tag up individual content types, such as:
- fact check confirmation
- local business details (including contact information and opening times)
- media (music, podcasts, videos, TV and movie details)
- product information (pricing, ratings and reviews)
- training courses
What Are The Benefits of Rich Results?
Rich results comprise enhanced snippets and new rich cards, which feature at the top of SERPs in the coveted “zero” position, often as part of a carousel feature. Meaning that even if you aren’t ranking well for traditional results, your rich result will be the first item users see in SERPs.
Rich results are also displayed in boxes, accompanied with other information such as an image, star rating and review count, making them more eye-catching than traditional results, which entices users to click through to the web page. Given that search engine algorithms love high click-through rates (CTR), the more engagement your page receives, the likelihood of your website rankings increasing also jumps.
Furthermore, as the boxes tend to appear in a carousel design, users have the opportunity to swipe through answers for further information, making the rich result far more helpful.
How to Optimise Content for Rich Results
Unfortunately, there is no “get rich results quick” hack that will allow your featured snippet to appear on the first page of SERPs for organic search.
You need to publish rich content if you want to rank for a particular rich snippet and draw in organic traffic. What we mean by that is ensuring content on the webpage matches what is currently ranking. For example, if you want to rank for recipe snippets, have you included step-by-step instructions on making the meal in question? Is there an ingredients list on the page?
It’s vital to ensure that your content reflects the initial impression it makes in SERPs. You could start by comparing your content against the competition to see who dominates the rich results you want to rank for. Start by taking notes on:
- The density of copy on your competitors’ pages – what’s the word count?
- How does your UX compare with their site?
- How quickly does their web page load?
- What type of value does their content offer to users?
- How is the content formatted on the page?
If your competitor has used a lot of bullet points and h-tags to break up the text, it’s worth structuring your content similarly as Google prefers specific formats for different rich results.
Of course, you want to be original so use these attributes as benchmarks to assess the quality of your content and improve it where you feel necessary.
Remember that content should only do one thing – provide value to searchers. If you’re not doing that, no matter how much you optimise the on-page and technical SEO elements, you will struggle to appear in the top positions for search.
1. Acquire Rich Results Using Structured Data
Although structured data is commonly used to provide 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 markup’). Furthermore, if correctly implemented, certain forms of schema markup, namely recipes and customer reviews, can successfully create a rich result.
You’ll be pleased to know that the process of implementation is very straightforward. In the case of a WordPress site, you will have a vast array of plugins available to install to add the required markup.
2. Rich Results Are Not Always Guaranteed
As aforementioned, applying structured data markup to your pages is an essential step towards acquiring rich results – yet, despite this, Google may reject the opportunity to show them for your site. Here, Google has outlined a range of explanations for why rich results may not exist in its ‘Structured Data General Guidelines’:
Whilst structured data enables a feature to exist, it does not guarantee that it will be present. For example, Google’s algorithm moulds search results to generate what it deems the best search experience for the user depending on several key variables, including location, device type and search history. As a result, it may 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
3. The Mark-Up Will Not Necessarily Affect Your SERPs Rank
It is important to note that the inclusion of rich results in your listing to improve its SERPs positioning is not yet guaranteed.
Despite Google hinting at the idea as a consideration for a future ranking factor, various studies suggest that structured markup does not necessarily boost ranking performance.
Nevertheless, it has been proven that specific rich results have the means to increase your click-through rate and can therefore result in more traffic regardless.
4. Use Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool
Following unveiling 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 a page’s appearance on SERPs 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.
5. 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 markup. Then, 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 might never choose to display them!
Our Top Tip: To get your structured data markup indexed faster, use Fetch as GoogleBot (found within Google Search Console).
Beware that spamming structured data markup 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 how to use the feature correctly to enhance search results in the future.