A Beginners Guide to Rich Snippets

A Beginners Guide to Rich Snippets

Even though rich Snippets are not deemed as necessary, they do have certain benefits to the major search engines, users and site operators. In fact, these benefits are often more noticeable to everyone involved in digital marketing activities.

With rich snippets, the following usually occurs:

  • search engines are provided with the capability to return a lot more relevant results.
  • Users have the ability to determine the relevancy of specific results much faster and easier without reading a lot of unnecessary information. It is also important to note that users gain a better understanding of the contents on a site, and the relevancy to the query that they make without having to visit the site.
  • Site operators usually gain from an increase in click-throughs as well as a reduction in bounce rates.


What Are Rich Snippets?

what is a rich snippet in google serps


So, what are rich snippets? Rich Snippets can be described as structured data markup that’s presently used by site operators. This data is added to the site owner’s existing HTML code so that the search engines can easily identify what type of data is contained on each of a site’s web pages. To take this information a little bit further, the major search engines are also using this markup structure to give the user richer search results. Thereby, giving the user more capabilities in finding the data that they are really searching for online.

Under the traditional scheme, when a website showed up on a SERP, Google, and other major search engines would simply display the title of the site, its URL and whatever meta description that had been assigned to that page. When Rich Snippets are used, however, Google is now being given the capability to show a little bit more info about the actual results. Some of the more pertinent info is identified as follows.

  • a review
  • a person
  • a product
  • a business
  • and so forth

For example, if the search results displayed items from Google Pay or Itunes, the items will show up with a number of different relevant factors including the number of votes for that items, its overall rating, the associated price and the platform supported.

Today, there are at least 3 different markup specs currently recognized by these major search engines, and they are: Microdata, RDFa, and Microformats. Of all of these 3, the most widely supported is Microdata, particularly as relates in terms of annotations.

It is also important to note that rich snippets can be used as follows:

  • Reviews – Though there are different properties for each, snippets can be used on aggregate and reviews.
  • People – Google and Bing are currently showing richer info from LinkedIn when a user searches for those that are well-known. The same or similar results are also possible for any site that provides a profile of their staff, team members as well as others in an organization. All that’s needed for the snippet is the name, title, contact details, role, and the associated professional affiliations.
  • Products –Products and special offers made various merchants, as well as particular online stores, can be shown as rich snippets too. Setting up the appropriate properties is also standard since the major search engines can pull in the name of the product, its image, description, brand, identifiers (ISBN, SKU, etc.) and etc.
  • Businesses & Organisations – When a rich snippet is being used for a business & organization, the search engine will be using the following properties: business name, logo, its physical address or the site’s url, telephone no, and geolocation.
  • Recipes – When a rich snippet is being used for a recipe, the search engine will pull in wide range of related properties including: reviews, the type of dish, cooking and preparation time, nutritional value (i.e. calories, fat content and more)
  • Events – When a rich snippet is being used for events, the search engine can pull in: future events, ticket details, duration, event’s official name, start and end date, and geolocation.
  • Music – Though Bing does not mention rich snippet support for music, Google does make provision. For instance, they may link to individual tracks, full albums and previews of songs.
  • Video Content – When a rich snippet is being used for video content, it may apply to embedded video content on a site. The properties used may relate to production company, duration, license, creator and the class family friendly.

How to Add Rich Snippets to Your Content

First of all, not all content has to be marked up, even though markups can make it is easier for the search engines to provide better results. The general rule of thumb, however, is only visible content should be considered. Content on hidden pages should not be included in this process.

Structured data mark up consists of 3 main elements and they are as follows:

Itemprop – specifies name, Url, review, etc.

Itemtype – indicates what types of items being noted

Itemscope – specifies HTML , in specific the item

TV shows, photos, movies, books, music and recipes are all noted as creative works.

It is also important to remember that properties can vary based on the type of content presented. In fact, because there is a huge number of properties that can be used to set-up structured data mark-ups, the process alone can be very intimidating at best. Fortunately, there are plug-ins that can be used for sites that use WordPress so it makes it a lot easier.

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There are plugins for major e-commerce sites too. On the other hand, if the site owner is utilizing a bespoke CMS, its best to solicit the help of a qualified SEO consultant to assist with making these mark-up structured processes easier.

What to Expect After Adding Rich Snippets

Normally, when site owner decides to add Rich Snippets to their webpage, they may find that the work that they have done does not automatically appear. This is because Google will wait to see if the structured data markups have been done right.

In fact, they will not only analyze the markups themselves, but also assess them prior to displaying the richer results. This process normally takes about 10 to 14 days for this first phase. After which, if the structure data markups appear to be accurate, some of the pages will display the new snippets. This phase is about 5 days in length.

If no errors are discovered, in about 8 weeks, the web developer will begin to see semi-permanent rich snippets. It is very important to understand this process completely to prevent unnecessary delays.

Particularly, because when people do not know what Google is doing, they may begin to confuse the entire process by unnecessarily tweaking part of the work to see more results. So, one basic rule of thumb is to wait about 2 months to see full results.

Finally, before a site owner gets started, there’s still a few things that they should know. Starting with the fact that rich snippets have been implemented in the major search engines for over 2 years now.

However, the search engines are still adapting to these new changes. In order to get the best results possible, some of the snippets are not being shown, and the parameters for displaying will vary from time to time. For instance, the display of authorship has changed a number of different times since 2013.

Along with the assessments and evaluation of rich snippets, Google is also starting to penalize sites for a variety of different techniques. For example, if the information found in the snippets are misleading or contain other manipulative techniques, the site will be penalized.

Therefore, the site owner must become familiar with Google’s Rich Snippet Quality Guidelines.

In summary, if the approach that the site owner uses on their site is always ethical, there is no need to worry about unnecessary penalties only long-term gains.

Rich Snippet Optimisation Tips and How to Win One

Ranking at the top of the first page of Google is good and a worthwhile goal, but winning a rich snippet is even better. 23% of all search engine results on Google contain rich snippets/featured snippets. It is important to optimise your content for featured snippets to achieve the expected results as an SEO expert. 

Before we proceed, it’s important to note that rich snippets get more clicks than the conventional results. 

What are Rich Snippets?

Rich snippets are short blurbs of information fetched from website pages based on the searcher’s query. They are displayed above the normal search results to help users find information quickly without scrolling down to the other results.

Most people are of the idea that rich snippets are different from featured snippets. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both are generated from pages that Google considers most relevant to the search queries. They appear at the top, and so don’t get confused when we use both terms interchangeably in this article.

Understanding the Different Types of Rich Snippets

There are three primary types of rich snippets that you should focus on when optimising website content. 

Paragraph Rich Snippets

Paragraph rich snippets are the most common. They are used to offer juicy and short descriptions of terms, an overview of topics, and provide answers to questions. 70% of rich snippets are in paragraph format.

List Rich Snippet

As the name suggests, they are presented in the form of either numbered lists or bulletins. Sometimes, they are step-by-step instructions. 19% + of all rich snippets are listed.

Tables Rich Snippet

6.3% of all rich snippets presented in Google SERPs are in the table format. The table helps to provide a straightforward comparison of product features and pricing. The modern Google bots can pull an existing table in an article and present it as a snippet. 

Therefore, as you create on-page and off-page content, it is wise to spice your copy with some tables on the topic. 

Video Rich Snippet

YouTube is the largest video-based search engine in the world. With the human brain wired to process visuals and videos better than blocks of text, it is not difficult to see why millions of people spend hours watching videos.

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Just like tables, Google now displays YouTube videos for specific search queries. To win one, you need to identify keywords that often trigger the search engine to display video content. Use those keywords in your YouTube video title, meta description, and tags. 

Why Are Rich Snippets Important?

A rich snippet is the most prime real estate in search engine results pages. Everyone is hungry to win one due to the immense visibility and organic traffic that it generates. The content contained in the snippet answers the search query is the most concise and accurate. 

As mentioned earlier, Google developed them to offer quick information to the users. By winning a rich snippet, you can quickly leapfrog the number one website. Research shows that 70% of rich snippets are featured from websites under the number one organic rank. 

Therefore, if your site is currently ranked number 6 or 7 on the first page, a rich snippet can significantly boost your clickthrough rate. A study by HubSpot found out that CTR for keywords with a high search volume is 114% more for the pages that ranked for a snippet.

get google ranking ad

Voice search is quickly gaining prominence across the globe. According to Backlinko executive Brian Dean, 40% of voice search answers are featured from rich snippet results. 

Concisely, winning a rich snippet will significantly increase your brand’s visibility, customer trust, authority, organic traffic, and sales. 

How to Optimise Content for Rich Snippets

Content is King. You probably know that already, but in the current online business world, you need to create top-notch content to get and stay ahead of the competitors. Everyone is investing thousands of dollars in content, and so should you if you want to be recognised as an authority by Google and the target audience. 

  • Get List on the First Page of SERPs

We mentioned that most of the rich snippets are from websites ranked below the first result. However, that does not mean you should not work to get the top spots. Create premium content to get on the first page of Google SERPs. 

Research done by Ahrefs shows that 99.58% of rich snippets on this search engine are from pages listed on the first page. 

Carry out extensive research to know the ideal keywords to target and content topics that are ranked at the top. Outwork your competitors and constantly update your articles with new statistics and topics to keep them fresh.

  • Focus on Question-Based Keywords

A few years ago, websites would get ranked highly for short-term keywords. Unfortunately, with the entry of voice search, you cannot just rely on such keywords. Rich snippets aim to provide quick answers to search queries.

So, as you create content, focus on question-based keywords. SEMrush report confirms that 77.63% of search queries today that start with “why” trigger Google to display a rich snippet. 

The “People Also Ask” section in SERPs can provides ideas on which questions to include in your content. You can also decide to create an entire article focusing on 2-3 questions. Remember that Google ranks long-form articles better than short-form articles.

In a nutshell, question-based keywords have a laser-focused and clear information search intent. They make it easy for Google to know what kind of answers the searchers desire. 

AnswerThePublic is another invaluable tool that you can use to find relevant questions. As you research, your goal should be to find questions with a high search volume related to your niche. 

  • Monitor the Current Rich Snippets and SERPs

After creating optimised content, the next thing is confirming that Google has awarded you a featured snippet for the target long-tail keywords. Below is an example of a paragraph rich snippet for the keyword “how much does it cost to build a house from scratch?”

By analysing the SERPs, you will know that Google has indexed your article and the keywords that triggered the display. Use that as an inspiration to create and optimise articles. Make sure that the articles are correctly formatted for Google bots to understand the content. 

Use plenty of HEADINGs and bulletin lists, short paragraphs, and simple language that the ordinary searchers will understand. 

  • Focus More on Rich Snippets that Generate More Clicks

Sadly, 64.82% of Google searches are not clicked on by users. That’s a lot of effort and time going down the drain. 

Increased display of answer boxes and rich snippets is considered one of the plausible reasons for such a high percentage of zero-click searches. The searchers don’t see why they should scroll down if the information they are looking for is presented in the rich snippet right before them.

As you improve your content, it is prudent to identify the rich snippets that get the most clicks. Prioritise them to understand the searchers intent and precisely what to do to ensure that they convert when they land on your website. 

In the above rich snippet, one gets all the information they are looking for about the average Google ad clickthrough rate.

Use tools such as Moz or Ahrefs to know the CTR of the target keywords. Winning a rich snippet for keywords estimated to have a low CTR will increase your brand’s visibility, but they will generate little organic traffic.

  • Carry Out Competitive Analysis

What are your chances of winning a rich snippet? The only way to find out is by carrying out a competitive analysis. For example, if the website that currently has a rich snippet for your target keyword has thousands of backlinks and the site has a high domain authority, beating them will be a tall order using solely on-page SEO.

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Assuming you want to get to position zero for a keyword such as “Facebook ads tips” and find that it already has a rich snippet.

Go ahead and use SEMrush or any other similar tool to analyse the competitor’s website. 

Competition is very high for such keywords, and the website is probably out of your reach if yours is new. The best thing to do in such scenarios is not to spend time and resources competing based on backlink profile and domain rating but to target other relevant search queries that are less competitive.

Otherwise, you will be fighting a losing battle if you try to beat the competitor on the same keyword. Google already considers the site authority and the best source of information on the topic. 

  • Create Content Based on Identified Less Competitive Keywords

With the list of less-competitive keywords at hand, the next thing you need to do is compare them to identify those you have a high chance of winning a snippet for easily. Concisely, look for the low hanging fruits and optimise your content using them. 

Customise the content for the type of rich snippet you want. That is;

Paragraph rich snippet

Create concise answers to the search query, as shown in the example below.

The search query should have a properly formatted and optimised header tag. The paragraph that answers the question should be positioned directly below in a <p> tag. Strive to use words that Google bots can easily fetch and present in a snippet.

In your copy, create curiosity to drive not only CTR but also traffic back to your website. Ideally, the first sentence should provide a direct answer to the query. The second sentence should provide additional information and encourage the searcher to click the link to visit your website for more info.

List rich snippet

List rich snippets are fetched from pages whose content offers step-by-step instructions on how to complete a particular process. Structure your content in this way to win one and make sure that the information is accurate and better than the competitors.

The target keyword should be in the heading, and the subsequent list subheadings should be in either H2 or H3 format. 

The effective way of increasing CTR with list rich snippets is by include 8+ steps/items. Google loves longer lists as it perceives them as more comprehensive than shortlists.

Table rich snippet

Answer the query by presenting the information in a table. If possible, create a comparison table with the <tr> tag. Google will automatically create its dynamic table based on the most relevant information to the query that you provide. 

The above table presents the information in three columns: dimensions, display size, and model.

However, if you look at the website page that the information was collected, it has four columns. This is enough proof that Google picks and presents the most relevant information in its version of the table.

Further, increase the chances of your table been picked by making sure it has more than four rows. 

  • Optimal Paragraph Word Count

A study by Moz found out that 60.36% of all rich snippets displayed in paragraph format are on average 40 – 50 words long. 

Ensure that you answer the query in a short paragraph and below the correct subheading to avoid confusion. This paragraph should have no more than 315 characters. By now, you already know Google can eliminate unnecessary text and only presenting the essential information. 

Remember to also optimise the subheadings by keeping them short. It should not contain any unnecessary words/fluff. Also, include a date as 47%, and 41% of list and paragraph snippets have one. 70% of rich snippets are from articles posted in the last three years. 

Finally, use high-quality images and check the readability score of the paragraphs using the Hemingway app. Search Engine Journal conducted a study in 2020 to determine the readability of featured snippets. They found out that the average Flesch-Kinkaid reading level in all the 419 rich snippets studied had a readability score of grade 10. 

Final Thoughts

There you have it, apply the about tips will increase your chances of winning rich snippets. Monitor the results to know which type of queries to target and the other areas that should be improved to get more rich snippets. 

Don’t hesitate to contact the MediaOne Marketing team for more insider tips on winning rich snippets and getting maximum ROI from your Singapore SEO and content marketing strategy.


About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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