Since Google announced that they’d begin incorporating Rich Answers into their organic search results, we at BFO have seen this feature take on an increasingly prevalent role in how results are displayed in Google SERPs. In fact, an extensive study earlier this year by Stone Temple Consulting concluded that nearly 20% of all results now contain Rich Answers. And that percentage is likely to have grown since the findings were published in February.
As SEOs, it’s important to ensure our sites are properly optimized to stay visible in the Rich Answers results, and the best way to accomplish this is through microdata or schema markup optimization.
Rich Answers Explained
Rich Answers are Google’s latest method for cutting through the monotony of users having to scroll through a list of search results to find the most suitable site to satisfy their search query. Google accomplishes this by presenting a snippet of a single site at the top of the results page which they believe to provide the best answer for the query. In fact, it’s very likely that you’ve already seen a Rich Answer result during a recent Google web search.
The above Rich Answer result is chosen partially based on its high Domain Authority and the fact that it’s an .edu site, which holds a higher favor in the eyes of Google. To compete with this type of site in the Rich Answers results—when your .com site’s Domain Authority may be, ahem, less than impressive—you’ll want to focus on the enrichment of your microdata and schema tags.
Adding schema tags to your site provides an additional level of optimization which drills down to the real purpose and goal of a page. By utilizing schema in your page’s HTML, you can highlight page elements which may otherwise be overlooked by the crawlers. Elements like prices, ratings, product colors, etc. are more easily identified with schema tags.
For example, if your site sells insurance plans but also is a resource for industry-related information and guidance, there are ways to help promote the real goal of each page to perhaps push it up into the coveted Rich Answers results.
Say the goal of a particular page on your insurance site is to sell small business insurance, but it mostly contains content of a personal anecdote from a satisfied customer. To supplement the content with the actual page intent, you will want to use microdata markup to highlight things like the plan price, what the plan covers, and the plan rating. The schema markup may look like this in your HTML:
Optimizing with microdata will not only increase your chances for appearing at the very top of Google’s search results in the Rich Answers, but will also help to improve crawlability and help drive traffic from niche keywords.
Learn more about the importance of schema tags and microdata markup here: schema.org. Or download our ebook ‘The Marketer’s Guide to Managing and Maximizing SEO Success‘ to learn more about SEO strategies that can benefit your business.
Also published on Medium.