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What Are Rich Snippets?

What Are Rich Snippets?
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What are rich snippets? Rich snippets are Google search results with more information than a standard result. They’re more visually appealing and, as a result, often have a higher click-through rate. Common examples are reviews, how-tos, and recipes.

Rich snippets are an awesome way to increase your click-through rate if you have an opportunity to use them. They really make a result stand out among others that don’t have any rich snippet data.

For instance, let’s say you’re looking for a recipe to make some homemade cinnamon rolls. Are you more likely to click on a result that looks like this:

Cinnamon roll search result

Or like this?

Cinnamon roll search result

Yeah, that top one is much more compelling and makes me want to click, thanks to its rich snippet data.

Rich snippet terms to know

Along with “rich snippet,” there are a few supporting words you should know in order to really comprehend what these are.

  1. Knowledge Graph: The Knowledge Graph was sort of Google’s first foray into creating rich snippets. Any time you search something, such as “three-toed sloth,” and you get a card of information on the right-hand side of your screen (on desktop searches) or at the top of the results page (on mobile), you’re looking at the Knowledge Graph at work. That card that appears is called a “knowledge panel.”
  2. Schema: In simple terms, schema (Schema.org) is extra code that you can add to your website page in order to tell Google (and other search engines) more about who you are or what you offer. In the above recipe example, the rich snippet result website owner has added code to her website to tell Google specifically that what’s on the page is a recipe, and here’s the rating, the time it takes, calories, ingredients, etc.
  3. Structured data: This is Google’s overarching term for the extra code you can add to your website to give them more details about your business or brand. They say, “Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content; for example, on a recipe page, what are the ingredients, the cooking time and temperature, the calories, and so on.” You add structured data to your site using schema.
  4. Enriched search results: This is Google’s term for results that are even snazzier than rich snippets. They say, “Enriched search results often include an immersive popup experience or other advanced interaction feature.” Job postings are enriched search results:

"Enriched search results often include an immersive popup experience or other advanced interaction feature."

Schema for the knowledge panel

Before we dive more into how to work with rich snippets, we should first talk about the one bit of schema that any website can (and should!) take advantage of.

While this is NOT technically a rich snippet, it’s something you can lump in with them, since it uses schema. Also, Google’s official terms for things in this area are kind of confusing, if you ask me. I mean, we had to go over four different phrases related to rich snippets in order to understand what a rich snippet is, right? Sheesh.

Remember what the knowledge panel is? That card that shows up to the right of search results on desktop? Here’s ClearVoice’s:

ClearVoice's knowledge panel example

If you’re a local business or a business with a location somewhere, you’re probably already aware that you can manipulate that card that shows up in branded search through Google My Business.

If you’re a company, a brand, or a person, you’ll edit your card differently. If a knowledge panel already exists when you perform a branded search, you’ll update it by getting verified by Google — then they’ll let you update a few of the aspects of your panel.

If you do NOT have a knowledge panel showing up, schema can help get you there. Will a knowledge panel magically appear after you add schema to your site? It depends, but usually not.

It’s a big step, though, and tells Google more about you whether they generate a knowledge panel for you or not.

Anyway, after you’ve got a handle on your SEO overall, you can dive into this. It’s quite advanced, but worth it.

Find your category here and click over to Schema to see what properties you can implement:

For a super detailed look at getting a knowledge panel, try this in-depth guide from Search Engine Land.

Quick getting-started schema implementation tips

If this is your first (or first more in-depth) look at schema and you are overwhelmed, I don’t blame you. It’s really easy to click on one of those links above and get super overwhelmed by the sheer number of possible things you can tell search engines about you. These few tips will help.

You don’t have to use all of the available properties

You can use as few or as many that make sense for your organization/business/brand. Start with the most important and add from there.

Some of the most important, basic properties are:

  • Name
  • Location (only applicable for some)
  • Phone number
  • Website
  • Logo
  • Social profiles

Check out schema.org’s examples

On your applicable page, you’ll find great examples way down at the bottom. I’ll use Organization as an example.

At the bottom of the page, you’ll see:

Schema.org's examples

If you find an example that you’d like to look at, toggle over to the “JSON-LD” tab to get a really clear look at how the code looks in a common implementation example:

Schema.org's examples

That really helps make it a little more clear. The good thing about schema is, you don’t have to add every possible property in order for it to work. You can start really basic, then add more if/when you want to expand your code with more bells and whistles.

How to find out if you can use rich snippets on your website

Alright, onto the things that qualify officially as “rich snippets.” There are certain categories of results that can use rich data — you’ve probably seen quite a few of them in your own searches.

Types of rich snippets

  • Products
  • Reviews
  • FAQ
  • Software
  • How-to
  • Books
  • Recipes
  • News
  • Events
  • Jobs
  • Media/entertainment

For the full list and a deep dive into how to implement these, check out Google’s search gallery.

Any website can implement the schema data that triggers rich snippets! As long as you’re not making things up in order to get a rich snippet, you can use them.

Any website can implement the schema data that triggers rich snippets! As long as you're not making things up in order to get a rich snippet, you can use them. #schema #SEO #richsnippets Click To Tweet

We can’t go through all of them here, but let’s look at an example. Say you’re Capterra, a company that publishes reviews for all different kinds of software. Naturally, since you publish reviews, you want star ratings to show up in search results. You need to implement schema in order for your rich snippet to work. So, you make sure a snippet of schema code is implemented on all software profile pages.

Capterra’s ClearVoice page gives us a rating of 4.6 with 18 reviews. That review schema, according to schema.org, would look something like this*:

"@context": "https://schema.org",
  "@type": "Product",
  "aggregateRating": {
    "@type": "AggregateRating",
    "ratingValue": "4.6",
    "reviewCount": "18"

That bit of code outputs like this in search results:

The stars, the rating, and the review count all output into Capterra's result for ClearVoice, making a highly clickable, rich result.

The stars, the rating, and the review count all output into Capterra’s result for ClearVoice, making a highly clickable, rich result.

*The above code was simplified for this example. Go to schema.org for the full code necessary.

How to test your rich snippets

Once you implement your snippet code (I highly recommend using a developer for this part), you’ll need to test them.

Google has created a tool just for rich snippet testing, called the Rich Results Test. Input the URL of your page with your rich snippet code to see if it’ll output in the SERPs. This tool is really awesome because it tells you why your code doesn’t work if there’s something wrong with it.

The other way you can use the Rich Results Test tool is by inputting your code, before you even install it on your webpage, to see if you’ve got workable, error-free code.

For example, I used the tool to look at ClearVoice’s home page. Here’s my result:

Once you implement your snippet code (I highly recommend using a developer for this part), you'll need to test them.

Now, our home page only has Organization schema on it, but you can see how it looks when all is well.

For something a little more complicated, let’s take a look at a recipe page on a food blog. When I test it, I can see all the rich snippet data they’re using:

Rich snippet data example on a food blog.

You can also see this blog uses videos:

Rich snippet data on a food blog

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Want ideas and examples of what you can do with rich snippets? Head to Google and start scoping out your competitors. When you run searches for relevant industry terms/questions, are you seeing competitors pop up with rich results? Do those competitors have something in their knowledge panel that you want, too?

It’s really easy to run your competitor’s page through Google’s Rich Results Test to see what kind of schema they’re using on any of their pages. Product pages, review pages, blog articles — whichever page is outputting a rich snippet that you’re coveting.

Google Assistant and rich results

Want Google Assistant to read your result out loud for searchers? You’re in luck! Schema/rich results is your answer. Of course, there’s that minor problem of getting your result to the top of the SERPs so Google chooses to read from it, but schema is your first step here.

Types of rich results that Google Assistant will read aloud to searchers:

  • How-to
  • Recipes
  • News
  • FAQ

For more on what the Google Assistant will read and how to build your content to their specifications, read Google Assistant’s Content Actions overview.

Rich snippet frequently asked questions

Q: I use WordPress and I noticed some plugins that help me implement rich snippet data. Should I use them?

A: Hard coding your schema is always going to be more reliable than using a plugin. If you do decide to use a plugin, make sure you have your developer’s permission to install it, it has been tested with your version of WordPress, it has a lot of good reviews, and is updated often.

Q: How much do rich results increase click-through-rates?

A: According to Milestone Inc, users click on rich results 58 percent of the time, compared to a CTR of 41 percent for non-rich results.

Q: What’s the best way to write schema code?

A: There’s a great tool out there for writing schema code! It’s called schema.dev. Use it to really accelerate and simplify your schema writing.

Q: What are some more resources I can use when learning how to properly use schema to create rich snippets in my search results?

Here’s a list of links you might want to keep close by (including a few already mentioned in this article).

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About the author

Jolissa Skow

An English degree gives me writing skills, 6 years of SEO agency experience gives me digital marketing knowledge, and my content strategy experience rolls all those things together to make one pretty knowledgeable and skilled marketing writer. I'm published on UpCity, Salesforce, G2, and more. I'm also an avid reader and run a book blog in my spare time.