Google is constantly evolving to find the best ways to answer searchers’ queries. The search engine has come a long way from the standard 10 blue links in the search results. Today, you probably notice that search engine results pages (SERPs) appear more visually appealing, including images, ratings, videos, and more. Google’s latest way to more accurately present the most relevant information to searchers comes in the form of rich results, sometimes called rich snippets.
Why SEOs Strive to Win the Rich Results
Rich results draw attention to the SERP listing and provide additional information — such as ratings stars, images, pricing, FAQs, and more — that may entice searchers to click through to your site. Because the click-through rate can increase based on the presence of rich snippets, Google may deduce that your listing is increasingly valuable to searchers. Over time, this may result in your website receiving stronger rankings.
Rich Snippets Structured Data
Rich snippets don’t just magically appear, though. You must implement structured data to be eligible for them.
Structured data is comprised of format (the markup code) and schema (the vocabulary for marking up pages that is universally used by search engines). It helps search engines understand the information on your page and makes your pages eligible for Google’s rich snippets.
Structured data does not, however, guarantee that Google will apply rich snippets to your SERP listings.
When optimizing a page on your site for a rich snippet, decide which type best fits your content. Then, select the proper structured data and schema markup. Use Google’s Rich Results Test to get a preview of what your rich snippets will look like in the SERPs. You can also see if there are any issues with the structured data markup that need to be addressed before your page can be eligible for the rich snippet.
Now, let’s dive into some of the most common types of rich results that you should optimize your content to win in the SERPs. You can also see Google’s list of the types of rich results that can be marked up with structured data.
Types of Rich Results
Event – When you are searching for events in the area or at a specific location, Google can feature upcoming events within the search results if marked up with the proper structured data. The example below shows upcoming fall events at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.
Recipe – A common rich result in the SERPs, recipes are ideal for using structured data to create rich snippets. These rich results can give searchers all the highlighted information they need to know about the recipe, such as how long the recipe takes to prepare, cook, or bake, as well as the ingredients needed and reviews, all before even clicking on the link to get the full instructions. The example below highlights the ingredients used in pumpkin pie, prep time, and reviews, as well as other featured links.
Reviews – In the example below, a fine dining restaurant in Chicago, Alinea, features a rating of 4.5 stars based on 1,573 reviews. Many restaurants and businesses rely on reviews to bring customers into their establishments. If you have a lot of good reviews from real customers, you should include structured data for reviews so that you have a chance at winning rich results in the SERPs.
FAQs – One of the best rich results for adding content to your search engine listing is frequently asked questions (FAQs). When marked up with FAQpage structured data, FAQs can help you show additional information in the search results. As you can see in the example below, Vista Print has two featured FAQs beneath the description that expand to feature answers within the search results. This not only provides searchers with more information and answers but also occupies more space in organic search, pushing the competing listings lower on the page.
Product Markup – Ecommerce sites use product markup structured data which lets customers know if the product is available and shows the price, sizes, and more, all within the rich snippet. In the example below, for a portable Bluetooth speaker, the product is in stock, and the price is clearly stated, giving the customer more information before they click through to your site to see the product and more details.
Optimizing your content for rich snippets can increase your listings’ visibility in the SERPs, and potentially even increase rankings over time. Of course, there is no guarantee that you will win each rich result that you are optimizing for, but you can’t win if you don’t play the game.