Rich SnippetsRead Time: 6 minutes

What are rich snippets?

Rich snippets are additional information, images, or data that appear in a search result.  A typical search result will only show the meta title, URL, and meta description. A rich snippet, on the other hand, uses structured data from a webpage to highlight additional information in a special way.

For example, when we search for “chocolate chip cookie recipes” on Google, the following rich snippet showed up in the search results:

You can see that this search result also includes a picture of the cookies, the recipe’s star rating, how many reviews it has, the calories in the cookies, and how long it takes to prepare. A rich snippet provides additional information than you would normally see in a regular search result.

Why are Rich Snippets important?

Rich snippets tend to have a much higher click-through rate than regular search results because they stand out and grab users’ attention.

If a user sees 9 traditional search results on a page but then sees one of them has an image or star ratings or more helpful information, it simply stands out. Without even clicking on the search result, you can see that most people liked it based on the reviews and how many people left a review. You can also see how long it will take you to bake the cookies. Rich snippets are also much more visually appealing.

We searched for a gluten-free cookie recipe and got the following search results:

Even though the rich snippet search result shows up beneath the regular result, it’s still much more eye-catching.

With this in mind, if the click-through rate for your search result is higher than the statistical expectations for that ranking position, then Google will rank this search result higher.  Additionally, having a higher click-through-rate to this search result will send more traffic to your website as well.

Just 31.3% of websites have schema markup, according to ACM Queue. This means there’s a good chance your competitors don’t have it. Adding it to your website will give you an extra advantage over your competition.

Best Practices

Look for keyword search terms you already rank high for

Go for the low-hanging fruit first. These will be your best bet to increase your click-through rate. Find out which queries you already rank high for and optimize your rich snippets for those.

In Google Search Console, you can see the different search terms you rank for and at what position. You can also see which terms bring you clicks.

To see this information, click on “Search Traffic” then “Search Analytics”. Then check the “Position” box. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to see which terms your pages rank for and what their rankings are.

If you don’t have Google Search Console, it only takes a few minutes to set it up.

Make content that shows rich snippets for your target search terms

The search results that show up on page 1 of Google can vary a lot. Your SEO content strategy should include the kinds of search rich snippet results you want to rank for. Once you know the type of searches that show rich snippets, make more of that content.

Google has so much data. And that data includes what people are searching and clicking on. If Google shows rich snippets for the queries you’re hoping to rank for, then those are the types of searches you should have structured data for. If Google shows a lot of content that includes images, star ratings, recipes, etc. then make that kind of content.

Rich snippets or structured data can be used on a variety of different types of content that include:

  • Reviews
  • People
  • Businesses & Organizations
  • Products
  • Recipes
  • Events
  • Videos
  • Music

Don’t make content based on simple answers

If someone searches for the weather forecast, Google gives them a quick and easy answer that requires no clicks. Companies that go after these types of keywords will struggle. Think about it, if you got an instant answer from Google, would you look around the SERP for more links? Probably not.

Don’t target content with simple answers. Instead, answer questions that require a more in-depth response. Google favors long, in-depth content in most cases. And having more of that type of content on your website will help you get more organic search traffic and shield you from losing out to the short answers Google displays at the top of the SERP. (See how your site is doing on SERPs using our free SERP Checker.)

Add structured data to your website

If you don’t have structured data on your website, Google is less likely to show a rich snippet when your webpage is displayed in search results. Structured data is a bit of code in a particular format (schema), written for search engines to understand. It only shows up when your website appears on a Google search engine results page (SERP).

Adding structured data to your website can seem difficult, and while it is code, there are tools to help you add it to your website.

Google’s Data Highlighter is free and will walk you through the process of adding structured data to your website. Keep in mind that you have to do the coding yourself, which can be difficult. Here’s what structured data looks like in code form:

Check your structured data

Whether you’re a coder who manually handles the structured data yourself or you’re a newbie using the data highlighter, check your work. It’s easy and doesn’t take long.

Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool will check your website or code (whichever you paste in) and let you know if it’s right or not. If it’s wrong, the tool will show you what’s wrong and where. If it’s right, the Google Structured Data Testing Tool will tell you.

There are two things to keep in mind here:

  1. Google doesn’t have to show your rich snippet. Really, Google doesn’t “have to” do anything. While adding structured data to your website increases the likelihood of Google showing your rich snippet, it won’t always appear.
  2. Rich snippets take time. Google doesn’t notice structured data instantly, so it can take 2-3 weeks for it to start showing up in the search results. There’s no exact amount of time it takes. Google won’t notice the added code until it re-crawls that particular webpage again.

Pay attention to changes in Google search

If there’s one thing you can count on with Google, it’s change.

In case you haven’t noticed it yet, Google comes out with changes and updates to its algorithm frequently. So, what doesn’t matter today can make a big difference tomorrow.  It’s impossible to know what changes Google will bring tomorrow, but learning about the new changes that have come out can make a big difference.

Learn More

In addition to rich snippets, featured snippets, aka ranking at position zero, can do wonders for your SEO. Check out this blog post by Exposure Ninja on how to conquer the featured snippet. Moz also has a great blog post on how to gain more traffic through featured snippets here.

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