What are rich snippets?
Rich snippets are the usual search results in Google, to which extra information is added, in addition to your meta title, meta description and URL. This data is derived from structured data on a page. The most common rich snippets are reviews, recipes, and FAQ items.
Google aims to provide the user with the right information and a good user experience. By showing rich snippets, Google makes it easier for users to choose the most relevant search result. This is what makes rich snippets a way to stand out in search results and an important part of search engine optimization.
The difference between rich snippets and featured snippets
People often think that rich snippets are the same as featured snippets, let us be clear: this is not the case, at all. Rich snippets are shown together with your normal search result, like in the example below:
Featured snippets are answers to questions a user asks. Through the featured snippet, Google provides an answer without the user having to click through. A featured snippet result is always at the top of the page, at the so-called position zero. Featured snippets are also used for voice search, among other things. An example of a featured snippet is:
In summary, the differences are:
- A featured snippet is displayed at the top of the search results and directly answers the user's question.
- A rich snippet enriches the search result and gives more clarity about what a user can expect on a page.
Benefits of rich snippets
A normal search result in Google consists of three parts:
- The URL.
- The meta title.
- The meta description.
An example of a normal search result is:
As you can see, this is straightforward. Rich snippets are normal search results with additions, like the search result below:
The added information to your normal search result makes your search result stand out more. The search result attracts the user’s attention and therefore increases your CTR. Rich snippets do not ensure a higher position in the search results .
Rich snippets also have several other advantages:
- Users know what to expect on a page within seconds, which improves conversion.
- Product snippets show the number of reviews, which contributes to the reliability of a product.
- Users select a search result that suits their needs in seconds.
- It is possible, but not proven or confirmed, that rich snippets have a positive effect on your ranking eventually. Because users prefer your page over a page that ranks higher than you.
The different types of rich snippets
To choose the right rich snippets for your website, it is important to know about the possibilities. There are several types of rich snippets that you can use depending on the website you have.
Not all rich snippets are relevant for every website. You don’t need to show recipes on a website about business insurance. Therefore, it is important that you choose the right rich snippets. We will explain the most common rich snippets below.
Review rich snippets show review stars in search results. It is possible to show an individual review in the rich snippet or a collection of all reviews. The review snippets show a rating in the form of a star rating with a maximum of 5 stars.
The review snippets are most often used with products (through product structured data), but are also used for books, films, recipes and local businesses.
With product markup, you can show additional information about a product in the search results. It shows the rating, the number of reviews, the price and stock status. For composite products, where the price depends on the chosen option(s), it is possible to show a price range. In the example below, you can see that the price is €11,- and that the product is in stock.
On different recipe websites, you sometimes see extra information about a recipe, such as an image, the amount of calories or the baking time. This is added with the recipe markup and makes the recipe clearer.
If you organize events, the event rich snippet is a must-have. It shows important information, such as the location, date and name of the event. The events are clickable, so the visitor is forwarded to the right page right away.
Different types of content are eligible for the rich card snippets. When you publish articles, it is possible to add Article structured data so that they are displayed at the top of the search results. This will make your article stand out, and you will get more clicks to your website. This is what it looks like in a search after the corona crisis:
Other applications of rich cards
Rich cards can be displayed in several ways and are also used for, among others:
- Courses and training.
- FAQ items.
- How To items.
- A question with multiple answers.
Frequently asked questions
It is possible to set up your pages with a FAQ structured data markup, so that Google shows questions and answers in the search results. This way, you meet the needs, doubts or questions of your users, and you stand out more.
To make the page URL in your search result look cleaner, use the breadcrumb structured data. Instead of a URL separated by dashes, a clean description of one or a few words that you have entered the markup is displayed.
Since search engines cannot read videos, the video markup helps them to understand them better. By adding markup to your videos, outside of YouTube SEO, they will be displayed in the search results:
As a local business, you have the opportunity to add information about your opening hours, location, prices, and reviews with local rich snippets. The image below, from Google, shows this.
As an organization, it is possible to help Google understand your company better. Think of contact information, a logo, and your address. This information is used to better show your company in the search results.
Although there is discussion whether vacancies also fall under rich snippets, the job opportunities of Google Jobs are also interesting when you have an open job position. By adding a markup to your vacancy pages, you ensure that your vacancy is displayed in the search results.
How do I make sure my pages get rich snippets?
By now, it is clear that rich snippets offer many advantages. But how do you ensure that you apply one of these rich snippets to your website?
To make your rich snippets visible, you need to add a structured data markup to your website. Structured data is a code your visitors do not see, it is, however, read by search engines. This structured data must contain the necessary information, some elements are mandatory to show your rich snippets and other information is optional. Google processes the structured data markup and thus all the information in the search results. There are three ways to add structured data:
- Via JSON-LD.
- Via Microdata.
- Via RDFa.
Both Microdata and RDFa are additions to the HTML layout of your page. JSON-LD is a piece of code you need to add to the page. JSON-LD and Microdata are the most widely used.
Adding rich snippets with JSON-LD
JSON-LD structured data is added to the source code of your website and is located between <script></script> tags. This JSON-LD structured data can be added to the <head>, <body> or <footer> of your website. An example of FAQ structured data in JSON-LD is:
Adding structured data using JSON-LD is generally the easiest and fastest way. Through a FAQ structured data generator you easily generate FAQ structured data and through an Organization structured data generator you generate Organization structured data. You add the JSON-LD code in the HTML code of your website or load it through Google Tag Manager.
Adding rich snippets with a Microdata markup
Adding rich snippets using a Microdata markup is done by adding pieces of information to lines of HTML code. Suppose you have a product page that states that the product has an average score of 4.7 out of 5, then you need to add several Microdata elements. The example below shows one of the required Microdata additions.
Adding Microdata markup is typically more time-consuming and less manageable than adding JSON-LD. Therefore, Microdata markup is chosen less often.
Plugins and extensions for rich snippets
For the most commonly used CMSs, there are plugins or extensions available that allow you to easily add structured data markup to get the rich snippets shown. Below, we explain for each commonly used CMS.
There are numerous SEO plugins for WordPress. For adding structured data, the following plugins are most commonly used:
- Schema & Structured Data for WP & AMP.
- Rank Math.
- Schema JSON-LD Markup for Google Rich Results, Rich Snippets, and Structured Data | WPSSO Add-on.
- Schema – All In One Schema Rich Snippets.
Several extensions are available within Magento’s marketplace that add structured data:
- Atwix Rich Snippets.
- Magmodules Rich Snippet Suite.
- Amasty Google Rich Snippets.
- WeltPixel Rich Snippets.
Although Shopify is a closed platform, unlike WordPress and Magento, for example, it is possible to install apps that add structured data. Several apps are available for Shopify:
- Smart SEO.
- Schema Plus for SEO.
- SEO, JSON-LD, Schema.
- JSON-LD Express for SEO.
- JSON-LD for SEO.
Lightspeed’s platform is very similar to Shopify. This is also a closed platform, where it is possible to install apps. Apps for rich snippets are:
- Custom Review Widget.
- eKomi Connector.
Moreover, many Lightspeed themes also support rich snippets by default.
Official rich snippets documentation from Google
Google has created official documentation for all types of structured data and rich snippets that includes the guidelines and explanation of how developers implement it. This documentation is available in English. Each document shows examples and explains how to implement this (also for Google AMP pages).
Validating your structured data markup
After you add the markup to your page, it is recommended that you test whether your page qualifies for rich snippets. Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool allows you to see if your page qualifies for rich snippets. It’s possible to enter a URL, where the markup is already implemented, or a piece of code to see if you’ve set it up correctly.
When you qualify for rich snippets you will see the notification “Page qualifies for expanded results.” There are times when your page does qualify, but the rich snippets are not shown. This decision is up to Google.
Monitoring the performance of your rich snippets
After you have added the rich snippets, it is advisable to monitor their performance in Google Search Console. In the Performance report, you can see the performance of your rich snippets:
From the left menu, under “Optimizations,” you can easily see which pages have valid markup and which pages have errors or warnings:
Rich snippets: what’s the bottom line?
In the end, we can conclude that rich snippets are an absolute addition to your search results and an important part of technical SEO. It is not difficult to add them, and it will get your website more traffic. Make sure you implement the possible rich snippets for your website so that you benefit from a higher CTR.