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Understanding rich snippets for search—and how Brightspot uses them to help SEO

screenshot illustrating Google rich snippets

In this article we discuss SERP rich snippets, also known as rich results. What they are, why rich snippets are important to your SEO efforts and how Brightspot supports them through structured data.

First, what is a SERP?

SERP is simply an acronym for "Search Engine Results Page", that all-important piece of real estate on Google or Bing. When it comes to SERPs and SEO, content teams have typically been mostly focused on how often and where their content shows up in search. But now they can also focus attention on how content is displayed within these search engine result pages—and that’s where "rich snippets" come into play.

What are rich snippets?

Rich snippets are essentially enhanced search results. We’ve all seen Google playing with how their search results display for years now, from showing images, videos or "snippets" of the content itself, all in an effort to make the experience more engaging and useful. While this is great for the Google user, according to a study done by SparkToro in 2020, less than a third of Google searches resulted in a click. Google disputes this, and points out that while there may be less clicking, the volume of searches has greatly increased. Either way, the end result is an even more competitive SEO space.

Why are rich snippets important to your SEO efforts?

As we have learned, less and less of Google's search traffic is leading to people clicking and landing on the resulting content. In response, content producers need to leverage every tool at their disposal to improve Google rankings and SERP results. This is where rich snippets, or rich results, come into play.

Through rich snippets, there is an opportunity to take up more real estate on those ever-so-valuable SERPs. One clear example by the numbers: whereas a standard organic search result occupies 90 pixels in vertical height on the screen, an FAQ rich-snippet result gets 250 pixels of vertical real estate. Not only is your rich-snippet result more prominent and engaging, its increased size works to further push your competitors below the fold.

How do rich snippets work?

Rich snippets make use of what's known as structured data as defined by schema.org. Essentially, adding this structured data to your content simply provides context in an easily digestible format for the Googles and Bings of the world. Google accepts structured data in JSON-LD, Microformats, Microdata and RDFa formats, but JSON-LD is clearly the preferred method.

Google recommends using JSON-LD for structured data whenever possible.

Not every schema defined on schema.org is fully supported by Google. But the list has seen rapid growth over the past two years. Currently Google supports structured data for rich-snippet results of the following schema types:

  • Article
  • Book
  • Breadcrumb
  • Carousel
  • Course
  • Critic Review
  • Dataset
  • EmployerAggregateRating
  • Event
  • Fact Check
  • FAQ
  • Home Activities
  • How-to
  • Image License
  • Job Posting
  • Job Training
  • Logo
  • Math Solvers
  • Movie
  • Estimated Salary
  • Podcast
  • Practice Problems
  • Product
  • Q&A
  • Recipe
  • Review 
  • Subscription and Paywall Content
  • Video
  • WebPage 

How does Brightspot support rich snippets for better SEO?

There are several ways Brightspot supports your site's ability to show up in SERPs with rich snippets. If you use Brightspot’s out-of-the-box front-end solution, a lot of the work is done for you. Brightspot natively outputs structured data in the form of JSON-LD for Article, WebPage, ImageGallery, FAQ, Image, Logo and Publisher.

One of Brightspot’s biggest advantages is its ease of customization and built-in helper classes. In the case of structured data, this involves Brightspot's JSON-LD view model, which expands a content type's JSON-LD output simply by adding annotations within its JAVA view model.

JSON-LD output example

Brightspot's use of annotations for it's JSON-LD helper-class
Brightspot's use of annotations for its JSON-LD helper-class

It’s this flexibility that has enabled Brightspot customers like the Los Angeles Times to easily implement the NewsArticle schema for their content, and even take it a bit further to adopt Google’s Advanced SEO approach to subscription and paywalled content. Healthgrades has adapted their Brightspot application to generate MedicalWebPages that output schemas for Q&A, Drug, FAQ and Video.

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