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
Here’s an example:
That’s a normal “snippet”.
Rich Snippets take a normal snippet… and add to it.
Here’s an example of a 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.
Google gets Rich Snippet data from Structured Markup (like Schema) in your page’s 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:
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.
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.
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.
Music: Gives Google info on music, like album release dates.
Product Markup: Gives search engines information about a specific product (including price and product images).
Organization: Helps Google understand key information on an organization (like a business), including address, logo and contact information).
Top Stories: Allows a site to appear in the “Top Stories” box in the search results. Only applies to Google News approved websites.
Video: Search engines can’t “watch” videos on your page. So video markup helps search engines understand what your video content is all about.
Events: Includes information on dates, times, location and more.
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:
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
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:
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…
… and markup your content using the guidelines on that page.
Google also has solid documentation on Structured Data.
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:
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:
This a huge pain. Plus, adding new code to your existing HTML increases the odds that something will go wrong.
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.
To use it, either pop in a live URL from your site:
Or copy and paste HTML:
And hit “Run Test”:
Google will then show you any Structured Data that it finds on your page.
And if the tool finds anything funky, they’ll let you know:
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:
In other words:
Using Structured Data correctly maximizes the odds of getting Rich Snippets. But it doesn’t always work.
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.