August 3, 2020
Rich Snippets are visually enhanced elements within the traditional SERPs that add valuable information alongside the typical information displayed in a result.
Rich snippets are more likely to appear when a user is seeking a certain type of information or on a particular device type. For example, searches on mobile devices are more likely to see information condensed into rich snippets or results for efficiency.
It is possible to really take your organic performance to the next level by optimising the meta data on your pages and in turn, knock your messaging up a notch. Whilst the title tag is all about driving rankings and catching a user’s attention the meta description is that users first interaction with your brand. While this is often overlooked since Google announced they no longer used it as a ranking factor many moons ago, it can still deliver good results. When improved en-masse across your site you can see excellent uplifts in CTR and revenue without improving a single ranking.
Rich snippets have the potential to have the same impact as they can enhance both the visual appeal of your listing but also the information provided. Both of which will have a positive impact on the number of clicks your page is getting.
Similar to meta descriptions, rich snippets are not a ranking factor but they can help boost organic click through rates.
Often based on structured data it is important to mark up your page and content in a way that makes sense for Google and the user. Formatting and organising your data in the right way makes Google’s life easier and drastically improves your chances of having data pulled from the page into the SERPs.
Whenever you are looking to get a rich snippet showing you should look to see if any other sites in that SERP already have one and look at where the information being displayed is held on page. You should look at schema.org to understand how to mark up your content and ensure you are using the right mark up for your aims.
Google have provided in depth documentation around how structured data works and the best way to get it up and running on your website. There are 3 supported formats for structured data (JSON-LD, Microdata, RDFa) with JSON-LD being favoured by Google as you can see in the example below.
<title>Apple Pie by Grandma</title>
"name": "Apple Pie by Grandma",
"author": "Elaine Smith",
"description": "A classic apple pie.",
"calories": "512 calories"
"1 box refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box",
"6 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples (6 medium)"
Using the HowTo structured data is a clear sign to search engines that your content is providing a how to that walks users through a set of steps in order to complete a task. This can be copy, video and or images. Ideally the how-to needs to be main focus of your page. HowTo’s are great because they typically lead to your result taking up a significant amount of the SERPs compared to a standard listing. As you can see from the examples below.
There are slightly different mark-up required for HowTo Structured data that use different forms of instructions with the simplest being text content. Small additions to the JSON-LD are required for images and video HowTo.
There are some important things to remember when looking to use HowTo;
The full requirements for HowTo can be found on Schema.org/HowTo
If you are in eCommerce you should be running product schema on all of your products, however if you are a shopping aggregator then you can use the product schema on a page that only discusses a single product and multiple sellers.
Product schema is one of the simpler schema’s to implement and can provide a wealth of information to users as well as make your listing in the SERP pop thanks to star ratings and price info being pulled in.
If you want to get your product information to appear in Google images then there are additional bits of information you need to add to make this happen. These are; name, image, price and priceCurrency. If you want to show in the related items feature you also need to add “availability” to that list.
The full definition of Product schema is available at https://schema.org/Product and whilst there is only a single required property to get this schema up and running it is really powerful when you start to layer on some of the optional properties to take your SERP listing to the next level.
Another less commercial mark up that we have seen great results with over the years is FAQ content. Whilst these are much harder to get these days the impact can be significant if you set your pages up well.
A typical FAQ page contains a list of questions and answers on a single topic. This content is usually driven by regular queries your business gets from customers – either through direct interaction or keyword research. Marking up this content makes it eligible to get a rich result in the SERPs and also be used as a voice result by the Google Assistant.
As before, the schema for FAQ can be found here https://schema.org/FAQPage but in addition to this there are a few use cases which can invalidate this mark up which are worth mentioning here.
You cannot use this mark up on pages where users can submit answers or generate their own content. This includes forums and support pages where users can submit answers. This also extends to product pages where users can submit both questions and answers. The ideal way of leveraging this content is to take the most popular questions and add them to your FAQ page and mark up that way.
As mentioned, the preferred method of deploying structured data to the site is JSON-LD and in many instances, you will get the best results if you deploy it into the <head> of your page. There are plenty of mark-up generators to help you with creating the JSON-LD depending on the specific schema you are trying to use.
Whilst there is no one size fits all approach for deploying it can be limited by your set up and CMS, if you are on WordPress chances are you will have an easier time thanks to the large community and wide range of plug-ins that help get this code onto your pages. The best approach will always be to review the documentation and chat with your development team to understand the right way of adding the code to the site. The main consideration should be what is the best way to have it live with minimal risk of it breaking due to future changes.
Google have an invaluable structured data testing tool to help with diagnosing any mark-up that isn’t performing or just to highlight individual errors.
Monitor for errors en-masse can be done using Google Search Console with a specific section showing you valid / invalid and errors around your schema. A final point worth noting is making use of the annotation feature in Google Analytics to keep tabs on the impact on traffic to pages that now have schema and are appearing with rich snippets / results. There may be edge cases where you begin to appear in certain rich results that actually drive less traffic than a standard organic listing and you will want to roll back that mark up.
To further discuss the contents of this post, or for help with adding Rich Snippets into your SEO strategy, get in touch with our senior team to book in a free, non-obligatory 1-to-1 discussion.