September 21 2023


The Latest News on Rich Results and What it Means for Your SEO Strategy 

What are Rich Results? 

Google announced rich results in 2016, known then as rich cards or snippets, to create a more engaging experience on search result pages. These results contain more information than a typical organic or paid search result featuring a list of classic blue links. The thirty types of rich results include carousels, images, or other non-textual elements. Textual elements classified as rich results include ratings, prices, and “People Ask”. 

Regular and rich results populating a search for steel pickling. 

SEO strategies embrace rich results as they offer opportunities to populate more areas of the search landscape with eye-catching visual information. These results depend on structured data in order to be featured by the algorithm. The process SEO Teams use to get content featured via rich results includes:  

  • Content Creation: Written with user intent (B-SMART) and E-E-A-T to qualify for algorithm selection.  
  • Structured Data: How the information about your page content is added to the schema so that the algorithm can pull details in to fill a rich result type. For instance, a recipe would need the ingredients to populate or a job posting would need salary and qualifications in a format the algorithm can pull. 
  • Schema Markup or Structured Data Format: The coding aspect of result generation or creating the language needed to alert the algorithm. 

While simplified above, SEOs must keep a lot in mind when aiming to populate rich results as it is very technical and does not always guarantee a spot. However, the work has been proven effective. According to Search Engine Journal, rich results have an average Click Through Rate (CTR) of 58%, compared to 41% for non-rich results.  

Rich Result Changes in Progress 

Last month, Google announced that it downgraded the visibility of two forms of rich results to offer “a cleaner and more consistent search experience.” The two result types affected were How-To and Frequently Asked Questions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) require structured data in the form of question-and-answer content. The idea of FAQs and People Ask are the same, however, FAQs pull from the same site and can prevent click-through to landing pages given the answers appear in the search landscape. Going forward, Google will only display FAQs for high-authority websites.  

High-authority websites are trusted sources of information on a particular subject and include government, university, or hospital system sites. Websites have domain authority (DA), determined by source, metrics, rankings, content quality, and audience engagement. A DA greater than 70 is considered a high-authority website, but the benchmark varies per industry. 

FAQ rich result sample.

How-To results used specific structured data to show images and steps for accomplishing a task. The original announcement only noted mobile results were not to be recognized, but as of September 13th, this result type is now depreciated. 

How-To rich result sample.

What Does this Mean for Your Content? 

If you have created content and structured data for FAQ results, there is no need to dismantle your work. Unused structured data has no visual effect on results or causes issues. While Google ignores this data, other search engines may pick it up. From a UX standpoint, FAQs on your landing page help your users navigate information on your website, and this content still ranks for non-rich, organic results.

Like FAQs, any structured data created for How-Tos will not show on Google and may populate other search engines. Also, like FAQs, How-To results were not widely used given that users received a direct answer to queries, which decreased the likelihood of clicks. This depreciation is a positive one given the effects on clicks, so any How-To content on your site will now receive visits and populate other results.

The Bigger Picture 

Google made a big leap earlier this year when they introduced Search Generative Experiences (SGE), or their AI-powered search results to compete with a revamped, AI-branded Bing. These results are available to users who sign up for Google Labs. These SGE results populate How-To content, so the depreciation of the original rich result may be making way for the newer experience. 

Something to keep an eye on is if Google’s SGE rolls out to all users, that structured data may be used to populate those results and more rich results could be rendered obsolete as they make their way into the newer format. While the location of the results and the visual aspect may change, the idea behind rich results, the structured data required, and the tenets of user intent still apply.  

Continue thinking about what your customers want to learn about your business—processes, materials, and other specifics versus providing general product information. Videos, reviews, and images get prioritized along with local pack results both in traditional rich results and in SGE, which can put your website in the right search landscapes and potentially in multiple areas of that landscape.  

Want to learn more about SEO and PPC strategy in rich results or SGE? Contact your Account Team, or if you are not a TopSpot Partner, contact us to learn more. 

Tags: ,