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Rich results: What they are and why you need them

Author: George Nguyen

an image of a rich result

Rich results are search listings that contain additional information beyond the standard URL, page title and description. They also include visual enhancements and/or interactive features.


An example of a standard search listing and an example of a rich snippet
An example of a standard search listing (above) and an example of a rich result (below) with star ratings, review count, price and availability information.

Rich results come in many different forms and serve various purposes. They may appear similar to standard listings, but with elements such as reviews, prices, or star ratings, for example. Other times, they may be less subtle—for instance, the rich result example below shows a drop-down menu for frequently asked questions.


Caption: A search listing featuring frequently asked questions (FAQ)
A search listing featuring frequently asked questions (FAQ).

Rich results can also include additional text links, a search box and more. In this article, we’ll dive into:



Note: The term “rich snippet” is often used interchangeably with “rich result”—this may be because Google used to refer to these result types as “rich snippets.” Since the search engine now uses the term “rich result,” this post will as well. Additionally, some rich result types are still known as snippets, like the featured snippet, for example.


Benefits of rich results


Rich results improve the search experience before potential visitors even land on your site. If you’re already offering people relevant information from the search results, they’re more likely to trust your brand. This increases the chances that people will visit your site, make a purchase, or use your services.

The recipe carousel rich result.
The recipe carousel is a collection of rich results. The star ratings, cooking time, and ingredients help searchers quickly identify recipes that fit their needs.

Rich results also make your listings stand out from standard listings. This gives you more online visibility and can help distinguish your brand from the competition.


How rich results work


Search engines generate rich results from structured data markup, which is code that can be added to your pages.


While search engines crawl the content of your pages so that they can potentially index and rank them, that’s not enough information for the search engines to create rich results. Structured data markup allows you to put that content into context for search engines.


For example, you can use structured data markup to tell search engines that a particular page is a product page. Search engines use that information to enrich search listings with more information, like the product’s price or whether it’s in stock.


Schema.org is the industry standard for adding structured data markup. There are over 1,300 structured data properties that support different types of websites and content. There are also several structured data formats. Wix supports JSON-LD, which is also what Google recommends.


It’s worth noting, structured data has no direct impact on your rankings. However, Google has said that it “uses structured data that it finds on the web to understand the content of the page, as well as to gather information about the web and the world in general.”


Information used to generate rich results can also come from a variety sources, such as other websites or the Knowledge Graph (see the Knowledge Panels section below).


Common types of rich results


Depending on the search intent, several types of rich results may appear on the search engine results page (SERP). Some are reserved for specific uses, such as Google’s COVID-19 announcement rich result, while others you’re probably already familiar with. Below are some of the more commonly found rich results.


Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs tell potential visitors about a page’s position within a site’s hierarchy. This helps them navigate a site more efficiently to find what they’re looking for.


an example of breadcrumbs in a rich snippet

Breadcrumbs are appropriate for many types of sites. They can be especially useful for sites with rich structures, such as online retailers with a wide range of product categories.


Review snippets

Review snippets typically include star ratings (shown below). They may also be accompanied by other information, like the number of reviews or the reviewers’ names.

an example of reviews in a rich result

On top of being a rich result, this snippet may also show up in Knowledge Panels (an information box that appears on the right-hand side of the SERP when looking for a person, place, thing or organization).


Google and other search engines support review snippets for the following content types:

  • Products

  • Movies

  • Books

  • Recipes

  • Events

  • Local businesses

  • Courses

  • How-to’s

  • Software apps

If you sell or create content that falls into one of those categories, review snippets can make potential customers more interested in what you have to offer. Keep in mind that the “Product” content type is a broad category—product can also apply to your content and business offerings.


Product-related snippets

You can mark up your pages to display product availability, price, and ratings on your search listings. If you’re a Wix site owner, Wix Stores automatically adds product markup to your product pages.

An example of a rich result for a product page

Applying structured data to your product pages will also enhance your Google image results with that information.


An image search result with info from structured data
An image search result with star ratings, price, and availability.

This snippet is useful for online retailers and service providers. But, you’ll want to verify that your prices are competitive and your products are in stock. If your price point is too high or you’re out of inventory, searchers may skip over your page in favor of a site that has what they need.


Recipe snippets

For recipe content, site owners can add structured data to display ratings, preparation time, and nutrition information. Adding recipe structured data can also allow smart devices to display or read your recipes aloud.

an example of a recipe rich result

Recipe snippets can also show up in Google’s recipe carousel. Keep in mind, recipe carousels don't necessarily reflect the top search listings. If Google includes your recipe in the carousel, you could be leapfrogging your competitors.

an example of the recipe carousel in google search

While this rich snippet relates to recipes, you don't have to have a cooking blog to take advantage of it. Get creative—you can publish recipes associated with your brand (like DoubleTree Hotels did), or recipes that use your products.


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

FAQ rich results contain a list of questions and answers about a particular topic. All of the answers are sourced from the page they appear under.

example of an FAQ rich result

FAQ structured data can make your listings more prominent on the SERP, potentially attracting more traffic. However, they can also resolve a searcher’s question without them having to visit your site.


FAQ sections (and similar rich results) can help filter site traffic, meaning visitors that do click through have higher intent and are more likely to engage with your brand. Test out this structured data on your pages to see what works best for your site. Wix site owners can use the Wix FAQ app to automatically add an FAQ section to their site.


How-to snippets

How-to snippets are best suited for content that’s viewed as a sequence, such as tutorials or walkthroughs. These snippets can appear as text, images, or video. In the example below, the how-to snippet is a carousel of captioned images.


A how-to snippet on the mobile SERP.
A how-to snippet on the mobile SERP. How-to snippets can also appear as a video or image.

When structured data is properly applied, this rich result can be read aloud by the Google Assistant. This can increase your content’s reach to users beyond a smartphone or computer screen.


Other enhanced result types


The final three result types are a bit different because they don’t require structured data.


Featured snippets

Featured snippets are what search engines consider to be the best answer for a given query. They are highly visible, generally appear at the top of the SERP, and take up more real estate than a typical listing. This makes featured snippets a very valuable asset for branding.

example of a featured snippet in google search

Featured snippets are most likely to show up when a user’s query takes the form of a question. Google can display “answer” excerpts from a page as a paragraph, a list, or a table of information. Unlike typical search results, where the page title comes first, the excerpt is the focus.


Instead of being powered by structured data, search engine algorithms determine which content appears as a featured snippet.


You can increase your odds of earning a featured snippet by anticipating audience questions and answering them in your page content. Present your answer as a paragraph, list, or table, since these are the formats Google supports. Keep in mind, featured snippets are rarely longer than three sentences, so make sure your answers are to-the-point.


For site owners, having a featured snippet can be a mixed bag: On one hand, your brand and content are more prominent on the SERP. On the other hand, providing a direct answer may eliminate the need for searchers to click through to your site.


If your pages are showing up on SERPs that contain featured snippets, you might as well optimize for it. If the presence of a featured snippet prevents users from clicking on the top result, that might be happening to all the other listings on the page as well. At the very least, your brand could gain by appearing as the trusted provider of the answer, if you’re able to earn the featured snippet.


Knowledge Panels

Knowledge Panels are a special type of rich result that appear on the right-hand side of desktop search results, or near the top of mobile results. This feature is very prominent on the SERP, which is good for the brands they represent.

An example of a knowledge panel in google search
Wix’s Knowledge Panel includes a brief overview of the company, business details, a drop-down menu of information that users might be interested in, and links to Wix’s social profiles.

Knowledge Panels are a bit trickier to earn. The information they present comes from the Knowledge Graph, a system that connects facts about people, places, things, and how they’re related to one another. Search engines might gather some of that information from your website. They can also get information about you from other sites, like Wikipedia or LinkedIn.


Once search engines have enough information in your Knowledge Graph entry, they will automatically show Knowledge Panels when people search for your brand. From here, you can claim your Knowledge Panel and suggest changes.


The local Knowledge Panel

For local businesses, creating a local Knowledge Panel is as simple as creating a Google Business Profile. These panels are similar to regular Knowledge Panels, but without the “share” icon at the top. They usually include a map and other details customers typically look for, like business hours.

example of a local knowledge panel in google search

Both brand and local Knowledge Panels act as virtual billboards for your business, helping searchers learn more about you. Having a Knowledge Panel may also increase trust amongst prospective customers. This is especially true for brand Knowledge Panels, which are curated by Google or Bing and not controlled by the brand itself. These panels may also contain links to your social channels, which can boost your follower count.


People Also Ask

The People Also Ask (PAA) box has become a common feature on SERPs. It typically contains three or four questions related to the search query. When a user clicks on one of the questions, it expands with an answer. The answer is typically followed by more related questions, which are dynamically populated.

an example of the people also ask box in google search

Similar to featured snippets, the answer to the question appears prominently and is accompanied by a link to the site.


There are some important differences between PAA boxes and featured snippets: PAA answers can be excerpts from pages that don’t even appear on the first page of the SERP. This gives sites that own these answers an opportunity to gain visibility over listings that outrank them. The other distinction is that the PAA box offers a list of questions that users are curious about—this can serve as a valuable tool for researching keywords and sourcing relevant content ideas.


Search engine algorithms determine which questions and answers appear in the PAA section. To increase your odds of landing a PAA answer, write complete question and answer pairs within your content, using plain language, and apply Q&A schema. Take a look at the PAA box for your brand’s own search result page. If you don’t already own the answer to those questions, this is a good place to start.


Use rich results to get more visibility for your pages


The first step to creating a successful website is crafting pages and content that are right for your audience. However, those pages won’t serve your brand or business if nobody discovers them. Applying structured data to your pages can help search engines turn your listings into rich results that grab people’s attention and inform them about your content.


Now that you’re familiar with the most common rich results, refer to Google’s complete list of rich result types to see which ones might be right for your site. There, you’ll find tips on how to add structured data and optimize your brand’s visibility for the SERP.

 

George Nguyen - Director of SEO Editorial, Wix

George Nguyen is the Director of SEO Editorial at Wix. He creates content to help users and marketers better understand how search works. He was formerly a search news journalist and is known to speak at the occasional industry event.

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