Optimizing your SERP appearance with rich results and featured snippets can improve click-through rates, and turbocharge your online shop. Here’s how.
An important part of ecommerce SEO is improving our appearance in the search results. You’re probably already aware that Google has content-rich result pages that display facts, images, videos, ratings, and many data types to help users find a solution to their query.
These “rich results” can take many forms, from recipe cards to FAQs, review ratings and lots more. They require some special website code, but can turbocharge your click-through rates. And that’s before we even start talking about featured snippets!
Here’s an example of rich results:
As an ecommerce SEO manager, it’s your job to use the correct search enrichments to stand out from the competition, and to make sure your organic (unpaid) results outperform paid ads from competitors.
Improving the search appearance of your rankings is intrinsic to SEO success. If you’ve dedicated time and resources to boost your website’s organic rankings, but aren’t standing out in SERPs (search engine result pages), you’re less likely to get clicked.
This means your precious time was spent in vain. We want to avoid that at all costs and employ a search appearance strategy that helps your pages receive the prominence they deserve.
There are many paid-search facets that you may or may not be listed within yet. These are powered by Google Ads and Merchant center. Although these ads normally cost money, they frequently appear for transactional-intent queries, and can make it even harder for our organic results to be seen. This new level of competition vastly increases the difficulty of performing well as an online shop.
Tip: Dedicate some time to ranking for less common, long-tail queries. These have a lot of detail within them, so you can create perfectly targeted content that also improves conversion rates. They normally have a lot less competition too!
To uncover whether your pages are standing out well enough in search results, you should analyze the KPI of click-through-rate, or CTR for short. CTR calculates the amount of clicks (i.e. when someone clicks from the result and visits your page) divided by how many impressions the page receives (i.e. is seen on a search result page) to achieve a neat percentage.
A small caveat to CTR is that it can behave differently depending on search impressions. If a keyword is trending and therefore receiving way more impressions, the CTR will appear lower. Always analyze these metrics considering searcher trends, too.
At Ryte we use data taken from Google Search Console (GSC), which is Google’s centralized tool to provide search analytics, index information and even more delicious insights to website owners, therefore we know it’s facts straight from the horse’s mouth! P.S. If you don’t have a GSC account, it’s free and very easy to set one up here.
Increasing clicks to your website can be done by improving your meta title and/or meta description. By incorporating the most relevant topic within your title, and some catchy USPs in the snippet, you can aim to be more attractive to Search Engine browsers.
There are many different search enhancements but here are the ones most relevant for online shops:
You probably interact with dozens of rich results every week, when you’re browsing for recipes, news, and, of course, products! This enrichment provides eye-catching, bite-sized facts within a search result.
You can optimize pages to make them eligible for rich results, and this provides more details to a searcher so that they can choose the best result for their purpose.
You enrich a result by adding the required and validated Schema.org markup to a page’s code. Schema.org is a wonderful Structured Data standard that annotates a page’s data and makes it easier for search engines to understand and therefore add to search enrichments.
It looks like this:
And here’s what it looks like in the search results:
By applying Schema.org and enriching our results, we stand out better and therefore increase the number of clicks to the page. Additionally, this also increases the amount of relevant visitors viewing our page, as they’re more aware of attributes important to them that they saw in the rich result.
There are limitations to rich results, and Google is quick to penalize any website that manipulates data to display them, so you should always stick to the rules and use the correct result type for the correct content.
The easiest, most reliable, and fastest way of rolling out Schema mark-up is by using a handy plugin like Yoast or Schema App. These work in popular Content Management Systems such as WordPress and Shopify, and they only need be configured in order to to be rolled out and functioning across your pages.
If you have the time and patience, you can also write this manually (but making sure the code updates with your content changes is highly tedious) or you can work with developers to implement your own solution.
Schema.org has all the available data types you can use, as well as handy templates, so you only need to copy and fill them with your data. However, for building rich results, it’s advised to also refer to Google’s Search Appearance library, as this details which properties are required or recommended for each enrichment.
Although some eager content creators want to apply this markup to all pages and get those snazzy stars, Google has many systems in place to detect spammy or manipulated Structured Data.
Once detected, the website will then be punished and all rich results removed, so it’s important to stick to the rules. You can find them here, but the most important ones to remember are:
Additionally, make sure to always validate your Structured Data to ensure that it’s working correctly and that there are no errors. You can test a URL within Google’s rich results testing tool, or our handy Ryte Structured Data Helper plugin which you can pop open on every page.
There are over 30 rich result variations, but only a few are relevant and important for ecommerce, which is what I’ll be going through next!
For an online shop, product markup is normally the most interesting type, as it displays a product’s reviews, price, and availability when it’s implemented correctly:
In particular, the bright yellow review stars can be a great contributing factor for high click rates since they directly catch the user’s attention within the SERPs.
By including the price and availability of the product, users will probably not visit the shop if a product is too expensive or unavailable hence reducing bounce rates.
You should make sure that your markup updates every time your product details do too, as ratings and reviews can change frequently! You should also bear in mind that this is only for pages offering a single product, and not for a list of products or category pages.
A breadcrumb is a type of navigation for website users and search engines. It provides users with a clear trace of the current click path and the website’s navigation structure at all times, thus making it easier for them to travel back to higher levels.
Normally, Google displays the corresponding URL of the website in addition to the title and description in the SERPs. However, if you markup your website’s breadcrumb navigation for search engines, Google is able to understand the navigation structure of your website and also displays this in the SERPs.
There are bound to be oodles of good questions people ask about your product and services. How tall is the Googlebot Figurine? Is it 3D printed with love? Is it guaranteed to improve my SEO? And so on!
As well as using these FAQs as ideal content that incorporates relevant keywords within product detail pages and uplifts conversions, you can also create optimized informational content, and then mark them up to win snazzy FAQ snippets:
Rich results look fab, don’t they? However, it’s not always clear what impact they will have on your search KPIs (if any!). I like to test my Structured Data and see what uplift it has on CTR before spending time and resources rolling it out. Ryte’s SEO A/B testing tool is perfect for doing this.
Featured snippets are prominently displayed at the top of the SERPs and provide a concise answer or solution to someone’s query. They’re usually displayed for question, comparison, or preposition related keywords and are shown in a table, list or paragraph format:
I’m a huge fan of featured snippets. They allow us to stand out, be seen as authoritative, and don’t need any technical Schema mark-up implementation. Sign me up!
However, unlike rich results, they aren’t commonly displayed for transactional intent keywords due to the nature they have of resolving people’s informational needs.
There are a number of important differences between the two. For example, featured snippets don’t require structured data, but they do require ranking on page 1 of search results.
Here are the main differences:
You should win featured snippets to drive more clicks to your fabulous informational hubs and guides, and use their prominence to gain brand recognition within your target audience.
Actively working to win Featured Snippets takes time and energy, but they do result in some pretty great increases to clicks and conversions.
The best way you can optimize for Featured Snippets is to structure your content in clean ways, provide lists and tables of contents for longer articles, create quick summaries, and strive for being the best darn resource on that topic ever (you should try to do all of these things anyway!).
As the SEO for an online shop, you have a number of tools at your disposal when it comes to improving your appearance in search results, and closing more sales.
Winning a coveted featured snippet is hard to do, especially for transactional product pages. But you can directly control rich results using Schema markup, and make your shop stand out with product reviews, pricing and more via product markup. You can also add FAQs to the results, and breadcrumbs.
I hope this guide has helped you understand more about the wonderful world of rich results for ecommerce!
Published on 03/04/2022 by Izzi Smith.
Izzi is Product Marketing Team Lead at Ryte, as well as a passionate WUX advocate that loves to support everyone in creating better websites for their visitors. Izzi regularly presents at Ryte’s webinars and industry conferences, where she enjoys sharing her expertise and memes. When she's not optimizing, you can find Izzi at one of Munich's beer gardens or playing video games.