Oh, hello. Brad here. How are you? I am fine, thanks for asking. Today we’re going to explore the wonderful yet mysterious world of rich snippets. “But Brad,” you say to yourself. “I don’t know what a rich snippet is. Can you explain it to me?”
I sure can, weary traveler. Take off your boots, grab a cold one, and let’s get started.
What Are Rich Snippets?
So to start: A snippet is a search result. It contains the title, description, and the date. Snippets are enhanced search results that include relevant additional information alongside the standard info. Here’s an example using the query “chocolate cake”:
Everything outlined in red is the “rich” or “enhanced” part of the snippet, from the breadcrumbs at the top, ratings, votes, prep time, calorie count in the middle, to the additional sitelinks at the bottom.
Wait Wait Wait…what About Rich Results? You Forgot Those.
Ah, yes. Sorry for throwing a curveball at ya there, but let’s be honest, it’s more Google’s fault than mine.
The term “rich results” is often used interchangeably with “rich snippets.” In fact, Google’s own documentation calls them rich results. From the rich results testing page:
Rich results are experiences on Google surfaces, such as Search, that go beyond the standard blue link. Rich results can include carousels, images, or other non-textual elements.
A rich snippet is basically a form of rich result, but rich results include several other SERP enhancements. Despite this, more people appear to be searching for “rich snippets” over “rich results.” Ahrefs shows 3.1K monthly searches for “rich snippets” compared to 200 for “rich results.”
And Google’s Keyword Planner:
So the masses tend to prefer calling them “rich snippets,” though Google lumps them under the category of “rich results.”
How Many Types of Rich Results Exist?
Good question! So we discussed rich snippets and what those might look like. What other types of rich results exist?
Knowledge Graph Cards
These are those large cards featured on the right of the SERPs, often associated with a business or organization. These do not require structured data to be displayed (though it can help). In fact, Google grabs the information from various sources, including your GMB account, Wikipedia, relevant news articles, and more.
A Featured snippet is a type of enhanced search result. Below is one that appeared for the query “what is an seo audit”:
These typically take up residence at the top of search results, further pushing the traditional organic links (the “10 blue links”) down the SERP. Often called “position 0,” they possess immense benefits for websites, though they’re not without their detractors.
Types of Featured Snippets
There are a few different types of featured snippets. We’re all pretty familiar with the above “Paragraph” format, but you might also come across a “Table,” or “List” featured snippet during your search adventures.
Enriched Search Results
According to Google, enriched search results are “a more interactive and enhanced class of rich result.” Like standard rich snippets, structured data is required for these to appear, but the type only extends to Recipes, Job Postings, and Events.
Discover results are unique to Android devices. Ever swiped right on your phone and saw a bunch of seemingly-curated stories based on your recent searches? That’s Discover. You can see an example below and the fact that I apparently love Age of Empires and live in Colorado. Please don’t stalk me, but if you do, bring cookies.
OneBox is the name given to an immediate answer at the top of the SERPs for very specific queries. Common examples include asking for the time or a translation.
This one isn’t very exciting, so you don’t get a joke.
This Is All Very Confusing.
I know. Google isn’t one to A) Make things easy or B) Be consistent. But that’s the price we pay for job security.
How Do I Get Rich / Enhanced Snippets / Results?
Sacrifice to the blood god.
I mean structured data. A quick primer: Structured data, or schema markup, is code that uses the vocabulary from schema.org to “mark up” the content of a page to provide more context to Google. You can read my introduction to schema markup to get caught up to speed. I’ll wait.
Done? Good. Let’s continue.
Where was I? Oh yeah, structured data and rich results. Necessary for most rich results. The only exceptions are featured snippets and Discover results. Google determines whether or not your page is good enough to be highlighted as a featured snippet. As I mentioned above, Discover results are curated by Google and based primarily on your search history. You can encourage Google to choose your website for a featured snippet through proper formatting of your webpage and ensuring you answer a search query directly.
Why Your Website May Not Get Rich Results Despite Having Markup
I should note that using structured data to enable rich snippets does not guarantee they will appear. Google might determine that the markup type you chose isn’t relevant or doesn’t match the page’s content and thus not choose to include anything. Conversely, Google can choose to include some rich snippet information without any markup on the page.
What Are the Benefits of Rich Results?
“To display oneself ostentatiously.”
Hear me out. Rich results make your webpages stand out in the search results by adding a little flair to them. Much like American Dad’s Principal Brian Lewis in “Dreaming of a White Porsche Christmas,” it’s only natural to be more drawn to that which stands out. In the world of search results, would you rather click on a recipe link that says “Chocolate Cake Recipe” and nothing more, or one that has reviews, calories counts, cooking time, and….votes? Yeah, votes. Weird.
Anyways, the answer is the one with the rich snippet, which is the SERP version of peacocking. This in turn leads to a higher organic click-through-rate.
Really hoping that catches on. Honestly, I just wanted to drop an American Dad reference ‘cause I am very professional.
Rich Results Best Practices
So we know that the best way to get rich snippets and other rich results is by implementing structured data. But given that structured data is very confusing and schema.org is host to God knows how many properties and types you can use to mark up your pages, you should follow a few best practices.
Use the Right Structured Data
This one is sort of a no-brainer. Specific types of structured data lead to specific types of rich results. Whether you’re trying to get a rich snippet, an enhanced search result, or anything in between, you need to be playing by Google’s rules. Before you dive into writing your structured data, you should visit Google’s Search Gallery and explore the requirements.
Test the Crap Out of It
Writing structured data is not easy. There are many generators out there to help, but just looking at the code can be a little overwhelming for a beginner. Thankfully, Google makes it pretty easy to test your code to ensure it’s available for dem rich snippy snips.
The Rich Results Testing Tool, which is receiving the torch from the soon-to-be-deprecated Structured Data Testing Tool, is the tool of choice to ensure your structured data is implemented correctly and can lead to rich results.
Here’s a tip to not only help you learn how structured data works, but also to ensure you’re choosing the right type for your page: Find a website that has rich snippets and test the URL.
Write Great Content and Structure It Well
This is sort of a no-brainer as well. Structured data is all well and good, but without great content to support it, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Answer queries as directly as possible and format using a logical top-down hierarchy that leverages proper headings (H1, H2s, H3s, etc.)
Ensure Your Site is Good and Fast
With Core Web Vitals creeping closer and closer and the attention span of your average human dropping to the point of —
…make sure your site is as fast as possible. Our killer design and development team has some great articles to help you maximize your efforts.
Sacrifice to the Blood God
Did you do it? Did it work?
Well, if it didn’t, you should still ensure you follow best practices, leverage the appropriate structured data markup, and regularly optimize to encourage rich results.
I mean, that’s just good SEO.