On May 17th, 2016, Google introduced Rich Cards via the Webmaster Central. These are new SERP extensions that are an enhancement of Rich Snippets, which basically aim to improve the search experience for mobile search results.
Google has continuously improved the quality of its search results since it was founded in the late 1990s. The optimizations not only affect the way Google evaluates search results but also impact the optical display of the so-called "snippets". Search results, which nowadays have a blue title, green destination link, and a description in black, were first modified in May 2009.
With the introduction of the so-called "Rich Snippets", the search engine company made it possible to visually enhance search results and add extra information such as review stars, price ranges, and images.
For the extensions to be displayed, you need to add certain markups in your website’s HTML code. This is done with tags using schema.org and enables search engines to read the data in a structured manner and then process the data independently.
Figure 1: Rich Snippet with review stars
Rich Snippets established themselves very quickly. Today, most websites use markups in the source code to help them standout in the search results. Google also offers its own free tool with which webmasters can check if their markups on their page are integrated properly.
Alternatively, Google also offers Search Console users its Data Highlighter that can be used to mark content on the front-end. These markers enable search engines to identify the structured data formats on the website.
In 2015, the snippets were enhanced with the "Featured Snippet". This is Google’s own box that is displayed above or within the SERPs and highlights an answer to a question, recipe, etc. The snippet is filled with structured data about specific questions that are answered on the website.
Figure 2: Featured Snippet with recipe and image in the Google SERPs
Figure 3: Featured Snippet with questions and answers
By introducing Rich Cards, Google aims to go a step further in improving mobile search results. While the additional space for the title and descriptions applies to both desktop and mobile search results, Rich Cards are primarily meant for mobile search.
According to Google, Rich Cards were previously only used for recipes and movies. They consist of an image, a title, the source highlighted in green, reviews, and preparation time. Clicking on the search result automatically takes you to the complete recipe.
Figure 4: Evolution of the SERPs with the new Rich Cards
Similar to all Rich Snippets, you also need schema.org for Rich Cards in order to label the HTML elements in the source code with markups. If you already offer your recipes, videos, or events as structured data, you do not have to change anything when you want your webpage to be considered for Rich Cards in the mobile search results. Google has published a comprehensive documentation on markups under this link.
For you to be able to analyze the performance of Rich Cards, you now have a separate report in the Google Search Console under https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/rich-cards.
The introduction of Rich Cards clearly shows the value Google places in mobile Internet use. The goal is to make it easier for mobile users to obtain relevant content when they search for specific things such as recipes or videos. Google already began optimizing the mobile search results using AMP in December 2015.
It can be expected that recipes and videos will not be the only supported categories. For webmasters and SEOs, this means that they will have to deal with markups in order to ensure their websites are ranked in the top positions in mobile SERPs.
Here's the link to our OnPage.org Snippet Optimizer. Give it a try! :)
Published on 05/30/2016 by Eva Wagner.
Eva is an experienced content marketer. Until May 2018 she was a member of online marketing team at Ryte. Using her creativity and the knowledge of current topics, she was responsible for the German Ryte Magazine and the Ryte Wiki. She also organized Ryte’s presence at major trade fairs such as the dmexco in Cologne.