Very few people remember how the internet looked before the appearance of Google. But we don’t even need to go that far back to realize just how many changes have happened to the way we navigate the web. Back in the day, whenever you’d search for something, you’d be presented with just ten plain blue links on the page.
Since then, Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) have changed quite significantly, undergoing numerous updates over the years. Among these, we can include things such as knowledge graphs, carousels, Google Ads, product list ads, and, of course, rich snippets.
In today’s highly competitive digital environment, simply ranking high in SERPs may no longer be enough. Sure, nothing beats being in the top three positions on the first results page. But correctly implemented rich snippets can make the final difference between users clicking on your link or any of the others.
What are Rich Snippets?
Rich snippets are a relatively new SEO trend that can be really helpful for your business. They aren’t just the little blue links you see at the top of search engine results pages. A Google-rich snippet is composed of bits of information about what people had searched for before they clicked on one result.
Rich snippets are the bits of extra information that typically appear below a meta title or description on search listings. Any time a company gives explicit details about their products or services will allow for you to see that information in the search engine results.
This additional information appears because of the structured data used in the code on the listed page. Google uses rich snippets to enhance search engine results pages and provide valuable information directly for users.
The advantage of a Google-rich snippet is that it can make your business stand out on SERPs. With a bit of work, you could get yourself ranked on the first page for just about any phrase you want to rank for.
The Differences Between Rich Snippet, Rich Result, and Featured Snippet
Because of Google’s somewhat lack of clarity on the matter, the terms such as rich snippets, rich results, SERP features, and featured snippets are often used interchangeably. And while rich snippets and rich results are pretty much the same things, snippets can also be considered a type of rich result. Basically:
- SERP Features – Google’s features such as Knowledge Graph, Image Search, image carousels, common search operators, and pretty much everything on the SERP that’s not a blue link.
- Rich Results – These are bits of helpful information that are generated by structured data. FAQs are a good example of a rich result as well as a SERP feature.
- Rich Snippets – These appear alongside the search listing as a way of enhancing it. Elements such as review stars or cooking times for recipes are perfect examples of rich snippets.
How Do Rich Snippets Help Your Business?
Rich snippets can help your business in many ways. Firstly, they allow you to stand out from the crowd and make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for – which is always good if you want more customers!
Secondly, rich snippets improve the click-through rate by making certain listings pop up ahead of others. This happens even when there are other listings on the page that have a higher position. This means you’re more likely to be clicked upon, which will lead to an increase in both your number of visitors and revenue!
A good example of this is when we see reviews stars next to a product listing. These can make people click through because they know what potential buyers had to say about your product.
The same thing can also be said about a cooking recipe that also shows cooking times, calorie counts, and a thumbnail photo of the finished meal, enticing users to click on your link since they could find the type of information they are looking for.
Review stars and thumbnail images take up more space on the SERP, making the link more noticeable overall. Statistically speaking, rich results have an average click-through rate of 58%, while non-rich results typically fall below 41%, on average.
The Different Types of Rich Snippets
There are several different types of rich snippets based on the content and information or Google search results. Among the most commonly used rich snippets are:
Review Snippets – these snippets are based on reviews and ratings for a product or service, updating dynamically to show up to a five-star rating along with the average score.
Product Rich Snippet – a product-rich snippet gives users more information about products in terms of price, availability, customer rating, etc.
Recipe Results – this type of rich snippet will include relevant cooking features such as calories, the total time to prepare, the number of servings, and more.
Review Panels – this type of rich snippet can be used for various purposes, such as local business reviews or recommendations for products based on what you’ve recently viewed.
Music Snippets – this rich snippet includes features such as the record label, music genre, and additional information about the artist.
Movie Snippets – this rich snippet includes the movie trailer, ratings, cast list, box office revenue, release date, run time, and more.
Event Snippets – This type of markup highlights various important details such as the date, time, location, potential artists, etc., of the upcoming event.
How Website Owners Get Their Rich Snippets
While the benefits of rich snippets are pretty obvious, the question remains as to how website owners will manage to get them for their own sites. To get rich snippets appearing on SERPs requires structured data markup to be included in the HTML code of your site.
Google will crawl the page and translate this code, giving the snippet different forms in which they will be displayed in the SERP.
What Is Structured Data?
Structured data is a way to label content so that Google and other search engines can recognize its meaning. The most popular type of structured data is markup (or JSON-LD), which instructs a search engine about the kinds of information on a webpage, what those pieces are called, and how they relate to one another.
To put it differently, structured data is a type of code that you can use to tell search engines exactly what your content is about. Structured data underlines how Google organizes information according to its data sets found in the Knowledge Graph and is an essential part of the long-term understanding of information.
Structured data refers to a type of language created by Google that is trusted to provide accurate information. Beyond the organization of entities, a structured data-rich snippet can inform the enhanced elements to Google search results.
As search engines get more intelligent and better at understanding information, they rely on structured data to sort entities and content types. While all of this may sound too complicated for somebody who’s not particularly tech-savvy, things are not all that difficult as they may appear at first glance.
Anyone who knows how to add HTML markup in the source code when styling their text in WordPress will also understand how markups and structured data work.
Adding Markup For Rich Snippets
To add markups, it’s important to understand the two parts that make up structured data. These include:
- Schema – This is the vocabulary that’s used to identify the entity elements to the search engine. Together with Schema, Twitter cards and Open Graph are the other forms of structured data vocabulary that search engines can translate.
- The Format – This is the markup code used to communicate the above-mentioned vocabulary to the search engine. The preferred format for google is JSON-LD. However, there are also RDFa and microdata.
For those with a basic coding experience, Schema is like HTML while JSON-LD is the PHP or CSS.
If you’re comfortable modifying HTML, adding structured data directly to the code on the page allows you to have complete control. If you’re not a coder, your job doesn’t have to be over. A little experimentation and reading will help you create rich snippets like those that big companies use in their advertisements.
With Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper, anyone can generate markup code for page elements. However, this code may not always be as clean as it could be. It’s nevertheless a good point to start from.
Using a plugin or extension to add the markup on your behalf is another option to add the code yourself, but you will have less control over the results and be subject to the quality of the extension.
Once the structured markup is applied correctly, it’s time to validate it to ensure that there are no errors and that it’s being appropriately read and will display what you want it to. Google’s Rich Results Test tool can be used to gauge the effectiveness of your structured data markup.
Rich snippets are a powerful way for businesses to increase their bottom line. They provide you with the opportunity to create more enticing and informative advertisements that will rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).
If you want the necessary support to take advantage of what these rich snippets have to offer or want to learn more about SEO best practices, subscribe to our newsletter or contact us directly. Also, feel free to audit your site free of charge.