What are rich search results and how can you get them?
Search engines have for some time been making it easier for us to find answers using helpful features on the results page.
Google’s featured snippets provide instant answers to your queries. Map snippets lead you to a physical location such as a shop or restaurant. Google Shopping ads provide all the information you need to make a buying decision. And Google even uses video results to help with ‘how to’ searches.
There are also rich results for marketers to take advantage of. These are the cards and snippets that enhance normal page results with images, ratings, reviews and other quantitative information featured on your site. Setting up your site to provide rich results will help your business stand out.
What are rich results?
There are thousands of uses for a web page, and even more ways to code and structure it – causing a headache for the bots that crawl and index sites. Rich results are designed to highlight key information and help search engines understand a page’s purpose as accurately as possible. This means less guesswork for Google and more relevant results for users.
Rich results are made up of rich snippets and new rich cards –offering more image space and a carousel feature. To make the most of rich results for your site, you’ll need to tag up:
- breadcrumb navigation
- corporate contact information and logos
- sequential carousels
- search boxes and social profile information to be displayed in results
Individual content types can also be tagged up, including:
- news and blog articles
- big data sets
- training courses
- jobs and occupations
- local business details (including contact information and opening times)
- product information (including pricing, stock and reviews)
- fact check confirmation
- media such as music, podcasts, videos and TV and movie information
What are the benefits of rich results?
Rich results appear at the top of the results page – often in the coveted “position zero” above traditional text results. So, even if you aren’t ranking top in the traditional results, you will still be the first thing users see on a search results page.
They’re also presented in boxes, often accompanied by an image and star rating, making them quicker and more useful than traditional results. These boxes can have a carousel design that lets users swipe through answers for more information.
Detailed rich results present a more enticing prospect for users to click through to your site – and search engine algorithms love high click-through rates, often boosting rankings for your website.
Rich results also work seamlessly with voice search. Featured snippets that appear in “position zero” are the results that are read aloud when using voice search on devices such as Google Home and Siri – ideal when you’re on the move or have your hands full.
Rather than a whole page of results, voice assistants read out the single featured snippet or rich result. So, if you’re in the top spot, all the exposure is yours. If these results are in the form of a local business profile or a product then users can visit your physical location or buy the relevant product online – all through voice commands. (See more on Search Quality Rating Guidelines for voice assistants)
Rich results boast technical benefits too. Tagging pages for easier crawling of your site means more relevant results are returned – encouraging users to click through to the page. It also means that users are presented with the precise answer, product or information they were expecting – decreasing your site’s bounce rate (when users visit a page but then jump back to the results without interacting with anything) and also helping to improve results.
There is speculation that Google will add structured data highlighting to its ranking algorithms. The idea was first touted in 2015, so having this mark-up working correctly on your site ahead of the game can be a big bonus if, and when, it comes into play.
How do I tag rich results?
Rich results can be marked-up many ways, based on a language called Schema - the universal vocabulary used for tagging pages that’s understood by every search engine. It’s most easily added using the JSON-LD format – a chunk of code in a script that can be added in the top of the page to annotate the relevant elements that already exist, like pricing, reviews, answers and contact details.
Learn the JSON-LD format with Moz’s beginners’ guide. Then assemble your code using the Google Markup Helper. Then add the code to Google Tag Manager to finish. Schema plugins exist for the most common web platforms like WordPress, Magento, Shopify, Drupal and Magento – but these are often less flexible and not as accurate as creating your Schema manually.
Google’s rich results test tool reviews URLs to see which potential rich results your page is eligible for. The tool also highlights any errors or suggestions for your structured data and previews your rich result on Google to show how your result will look on both mobile and desktop. This is currently only available for job postings, recipes, courses and movies – but we expect this will increase as time goes on.
Use Google Search Console to view your overall rich results presence, rather than page by page. Here, you can see your structured data grouped by type (again for job postings, recipes, courses and movies only), and check for both critical and non-critical errors. Use the data to fix any page errors and see which items can be enhanced further to include more fields.
How do I get the most from my rich results?
Optimising your website to appear in rich results will boost your ranking and traffic. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your rich results:
1. Provide partial answers or additional information to get people clicking through to your page
Ranking for an instant answer that gives away the entirety of your article within the answer itself means you’ll miss out on clicks to your site. Including additional information on the page itself gives users an incentive to click through – and gives you traffic, leads and sales.
2. Create content in the format search engines prefer
To rank for a particular rich snippet, make sure the content you’ve created matches what is currently ranking – be it a listicle, a long form blog, an FAQ page, whitepaper or slideshow.
3. Make sure your on-site experience matches up
Give users who click through to your site a high-quality experience with fast-loading pages (through technologies such as Accelerated Mobile Pages and site speed tweaks). Provide quality content, in-stock products with up-to-date information and an intuitive navigation and user experience.
4. Optimise your site with organic search best practice
Content won’t automatically rank with rich data highlighting. Your site needs to follow current SEO guidelines to rank well.
5. Encourage reviews
Reviews and star ratings are a key way of building trust in your product or business. Many rich results pull through star ratings directly to the search page, so you need to have genuine and positive reviews with testimonials from satisfied customers.
6. Write in a natural style
Snippets rely on well-written and structured content, and product copy written in a conversational style. This is also key for voice search, so make sure your written content is up-to-scratch.