Your Guide to Understanding Google Search Enhancements
Upon performing a search on Google at any point over the past few years, you’ve likely come across some unique results at the top of page one of your SERP. Depending on your keyword inquiry, your results may yield a simple “Answer Box” that provides a definition or meaning to your search. For other searches, you may find a video answer list above the top-ranking web page.
These Google Search Enchancements have gone under many names since they were first introduced as early as 2009: SERP Features, Rich Snippets, Rich Card, Featured Snippets, Search Enhancements, etc.
In 2017, Google simply began referring to them as Rich Results.
What Are Google Rich Results?
“Rich Results are experiences on Google surfaces, such as Search, that go beyond the standard blue link. Rich Results can include carousels, images, or other non-textual elements.”- Google
Rich Results are specialized Google results that often appear above or to the side of traditional search results (blue links). Rich Results have the sole purpose of improving the user experience by delivering quick, standout solutions to a user’s search query. If a Rich Result is successful, the user will receive the answer or information they need without necessarily having to be directed to a third-party site.
What Are Different Types of Rich Results?
The type of Rich Result will depend on the intent behind the keyword searched.
There are dozens of different types of Rich Results that can show up on a given search. Some of the most common include:
- Featured Snippets
- Local Packs
- Navigation Site Links
- Image Carousels
- Google Reviews
- Knowledge Panels
- Instant Answer Boxes
- Shopping Ads
- Twitter Results
- And More!
For our clients, we monitor which keywords have an available Rich Result to better inform which pages we should be targeting and optimizing in the attempt to attain a Rich Result. Using SEMRush’s Keyword Tracking tool, we have the following icon key to help clients know which Rich Result is potentially available to them:
For a more extensive list of available Rich Results, go to the source itself here.
How Can My Brand Attain a Google Rich Result?
There are some promising strategies you can implement today to attain a Rich Result.
There are a handful of strategies you can pursue with the goal of showing up in a Google Rich Result; however, you can do all of the right things that Google supposedly looks for and measures, and you’ll still be at Google’s mercy on whether you show up for a Rich Result. And, even if you attain one, there’s no telling how long you will own it.
Friendly Reminder: Attaining or keeping a Rich Result is NEVER a guarantee.
Nevertheless, we’ve had success for past clients that we can implement for you and your brand.
What You Need to Know About Earning a Rich Result
There are certain ranking factors that are frequently found in those that show up in Rich Results. While these are not hard-and-fast rules or standards, they are common.
For years, Rich Results were often pulled from a page that ranked in the Top 10 of the SERP in question. And the higher you ranked in the Top 10, the more likely you were to get the Rich Result for that query. This gave brands an opportunity to get the Rich Result (essentially ranking at #0) and another organic rank in the traditional Top 10 results.
But in January 2020, Google’s Danny Sullivan announced that if a page is earning a Rich Result, they will not be ranking again in the organic results of a given SERP.
If a web page listing is elevated into the featured snippet position, we no longer repeat the listing in the search results. This declutters the results & helps users locate relevant information more easily. Featured snippets count as one of the ten web page listings we show.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) January 22, 2020
This has caused many marketers and brands to ask the question: Is it even worth going after a Rich Result anymore?
The answer inevitably varies from keyword to keyword. To know if you should go after a Rich Result, you must analyze the keyword thoroughly and the intent behind it. For some keywords, the CTR is going to be low if the user gets exactly what they need out of the Rich Result.
For other keywords, the Rich Result may be the starting point for the user that may then click through to your page to learn more. Reviewing the data behind your targeted keyword (including CTR, impressions, organic ranking, etc.) will be key in determining if going after a Rich Result is worth the effort.
Use Structured Data Markup to Appeal to Rich Results
Though it’s not a guarantee, using Structured Data Markup can improve your chances of showing up in a Rich Result. Structured Data is HTML code presented in a standardized format on the backend of a website that communicates with search engines, like Google, regarding relevant information found on the page. This information can be as simple as a company’s address and phone number, or perhaps it can include ingredients and cook times found in a recipe. Google will crawl your page’s Structured Data to identify the key elements of the page, which it can then potentially use as a Rich Result in the SERPs.
If you’re curious about what your current Structured Data Markup looks like on a given page, this tool from Google will tell you what kind of information, if any, your page could display in a Rich Result.
How Does a Rich Result Affect My Site’s SEO?
The benefits of owning a Rich Result in Google can be great, depending on your goals.
In the past, owning both a Rich Result and an organic ranking in the Top 5 or Top 10 search results could significantly improve site traffic. But since Google began deduplicating results so that a page won’t appear in both Rich Results and organic rankings, many marketers question the value of going after a Rich Result.
Again, you must approach this strategy and its value on a case-by-case, sometimes keyword-by-keyword, basis. For some keywords, the Rich Result provides a clear, succinct answer that is unlikely to generate any clicks. For these keywords, it may not be in your best interest to target the Rich Result. However, if brand awareness is a priority for you, any and all Rich Results may be valuable in spreading brand visibility.
For other Rich Results, the queries can be more complicated, allowing the Rich Result to act as the gateway to more information, thus encouraging higher click-through rates and organic traffic to your site. If your domain authority isn’t as competitive as the top results for a SERP, attaining a Rich Result is a great way to get above those first few results without having to acquire extensive backlinks.
If you want to know if targeting Rich Results is the right strategy for your SEO marketing plan, we’d love to help.
Icons Courtesy of Freepik
Senior Vice President