What are Rich Snippets? Complete Beginner's Guide

Content Optimization Strategies

Semantic SEO
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Rich Snippets

What are Rich Snippets?

Rich Snippets (also known as “Rich Results”) are normal Google search results with additional data displayed. This extra data is usually pulled from Structured Data found in a page’s HTML. Common Rich Snippet types include reviews, recipes and events.

Why are Rich Snippets Important?

The vast majority of Google search results display the same 3 pieces of data:

  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • URL

Here’s an example:

Google SERP – Snippet data

That’s a normal “snippet”.

Rich Snippets take a normal snippet… and add to it.

Here’s an example of a Rich Snippet:

Google SERP – Rich snippet

As you might expect, Rich Snippet results are more eye-catching than normal search results… which can lead to a higher organic CTR.

Rich Snippets are more eye catching

Google gets Rich Snippet data from Structured Markup (like Schema) in your page’s HTML.

Rich Snippet data taken from HTML

Even though some people think that using Structured Data can improve your search engine rankings, Google has come out and said that using Structured Data is not a ranking signal:

Search Engine Roundtable – Google structured data ranking factor

So at least for now, the main benefit of Rich Snippets is an increased click-through-rate.

With that, here’s how to get Rich Snippets.

Best Practices

Choose a Rich Snippet Type

Your first step is to identify the type of Rich Snippet that you want to get. That way, you can use Structured Markup that’s specifically designed to get that type of Rich Snippet in the SERPs.

There are dozens of Rich Snippet types out there. But a good chunk of them (like flight info and books) only apply to a very specific type of site.

That’s why we’re going to focus on the 8 most common types of Rich Snippets.

Reviews: Displays a star rating (out of 5). Can be an individual reviewer or aggregate reviews from users.

Google SERP – Rich snippet – Review

Recipes: A special type of Structured Data that only applies to recipes. Recipe markup includes data like time to prepare the dish, reviews and recipe images.

Google SERP – Rich snippet – Recipe

Music: Gives Google info on music, like album release dates.

Google SERP – Rich snippet – Music

Product Markup: Gives search engines information about a specific product (including price and product images).

Google SERP – Rich snippet – Product markup

Organization: Helps Google understand key information on an organization (like a business), including address, logo and contact information).

Google SERP – Rich snippet – Organization

Top Stories: Allows a site to appear in the “Top Stories” box in the search results. Only applies to Google News approved websites.

Google SERP – Rich snippet – Top stories

Video: Search engines can’t “watch” videos on your page. So video markup helps search engines understand what your video content is all about.

Google SERP – Rich snippet – Videos

Events: Includes information on dates, times, location and more.

Google SERP – Rich snippet – Events

So once you’ve picked a Rich Snippet type that makes sense for your content, it’s time to make it happen.

Understand The Basics of Structured Data

Structured Data helps search engines better understand your content.

For example, let’s say you just published a blog post that featured a chili recipe:

Structured data helps Google understand your content

Without Structured Data, Google and other search engines have a hard time understanding:

  • How long the recipe takes
  • Which images are of the recipe itself
  • The list of ingredients
  • Steps

Enter: Structured Data.

When you add Recipe markup to your page, you tell search engines:

“The recipe takes 45 minutes”

“This is the list of ingredients”

“Here’s a picture of the dish”

And if you play your cards right, Google will show off this data in the search results as a Rich Snippet:

Data as Rich Snippets

Pretty cool.

Implement Structured Data With Schema

When it comes to Structured Data, most websites use Schema.org markup.


That’s because Schema is supported by all the major search engines (including Bing). And as you’ll see in a minute, it’s pretty darn easy to set up.

All you need to do is find the type of markup that you want to use on Schema.org…

Schema.org – Recipe

… and markup your content using the guidelines on that page.

Schema.org – Recipe guidelines closeup

Google also has solid documentation on Structured Data.

Google Structured Data – Documentation

In my opinion, Google’s stuff is a lot easier to understand for people that aren’t pro developers.

How you actually add Structured Data code to your website is completely up to you.

If you use WordPress, there are plenty of plugins to choose from:

WordPress Structured Data plugins

And if you want to add your Structured Data Markup without the help of a plugin, you can use Microdata or RDFa. But I highly recommend using JSON-LD.

That’s because JSON-LD is the easiest way to add Structured Markup to your page.

Without JSON-LD, you need to manually add Structured Data to the HTML of your page:

Manually added structured data

This a huge pain. Plus, adding new code to your existing HTML increases the odds that something will go wrong.

But with JSON-LD, all of your Structured Data is packed into a little piece of JavaScript code that goes into the <head> section of your webpage:

JSON-LD packages all of your structured data

Test With The Structured Data Test Tool

Your last step is to make sure your Structured Data is set up correctly.

Fortunately, Google launched an AWESOME tool that makes this step an absolute cinch: The Structured Data Testing Tool.

Google Structured Data Testing Tool

To use it, either pop in a live URL from your site:

Google Structured Data Testing Tool – Add URL

Or copy and paste HTML:

Google Structured Data Testing Tool – Code snippet

And hit “Run Test”:

Google Structured Data Testing Tool – Hit "Run Test"

Google will then show you any Structured Data that it finds on your page.

Google Structured Data Testing Tool – Results

And if the tool finds anything funky, they’ll let you know:

Google Structured Data Testing Tool – Errors and Warnings

One thing I should point out:

There’s no guarantee that Structured Data will result in Rich Snippets… even if you have everything here set up PERFECTLY.

In fact, Google makes this super clear in their documentation:

Google: "No guarantee of Rich Snippets for your site"

In other words:

Using Structured Data correctly maximizes the odds of getting Rich Snippets. But it doesn’t always work.

Learn More

Mark Up Your Content Items: A solid overview of structured markup that comes straight from Google.

Rich Snippets: Troubleshooting: Are your Rich Snippets not showing up? This detailed troubleshooting video from the Google Webmaster channel can help you figure out what’s going on… and fix it.

A Guide to JSON-LD for Beginners: Very helpful post on the Moz blog about JSON-LD, including lots of “Pro Tips” on using it correctly.

Spammy Structured Markup: Although rare, it’s possible to get a message in the Google Search Console about “Spammy Structured Markup”. This guide from Google helps you figure out how to get back on track.

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