Google is always looking for ways to innovate and improve search results to ensure that users get high quality content at all times. In May 2016, Google rolled out a number of updates on how structured data are presented on search results. One of these updates is the new rich results type called Rich Cards.
So what exactly are rich cards and why should you use them?
When you do a Google mobile search for a “cupcake recipe”, you will end up with results like the one on the image above. First, the top website considered for that result will be shown along with an image of the cupcake and the directions for baking it. As you scroll down, you will see different AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages (see left image) that you can swipe to the left to choose what page you like best. These contains images, reviews, baking time and calorie count. These are the top stories carousel and part of the rich results.
According to Google, rich cards are the new search result format built after the success of rich snippets. Both of them use schema.org structured markup for displaying content in a more engaging and visual format. The main focus of the update is to provide better mobile user experience.
With rich cards, Google is giving site owners a new opportunity to stand out in search results and enable them to attract more targeted users to their pages. If you have a recipe website, for example, you can create a richer preview of your content with an image for each dish. With this visual format, users can find what kind of content they want right away. Hence, you get the opportunity to draw targeted users to visit your site.
Google initially started showing rich cards for recipes and movies in the United States. In an update in March 18, 2017, Google announced on their Webmaster Blog that rich cards have expanded globally. Additionally, rich cards are now supporting AMP format to make it easier for users to swipe instantly from page to page. Different content now has rich card features, including videos, reviews, music, articles and local businesses.
So how do you use rich cards for your website?
If you’re new to the game of rich cards and rich snippets, firstly identify what type of data best describes your content. Then, look at the markup reference and find what type matches your content so you’ll understand the recommended properties for your page. Keep in mind that a single page may have more than one content type markup. For example, an article can have video so you should add a markup for both the article and video so they will be eligible to show on rich results. You can go to Schema.org to check all the markup options available. Alternatively, you can use the Data Highlighter feature on Search Console.
The next step is to put together the markup with the minimum required structured data properties. This should be the visual presentation that you’d like to enable on the search results for your web page. To ensure the best version of of rich cards for your page, you should use all the available markup properties.
The markup will be inserted into the content pages that you’d like to be eligible for a feature. For features that uses AMP HTML, you need markups that are placed within the content page.
The last step is to test the markup and make sure that it is working as it should. You can use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool for that. It will help you verify that you have the correct markup and the features are working.
Check your progress in the Search Console Rich Cards reports.
Google has made it easy for you to track the performance of your structured data. You can find the Rich Cards report in your Google Search Console. It is under the Search Appearance tab at the left side – you can see this when you login to your account. Here, you will find everything related to your structured data such as how many cards are indexed and if there’s any critical (or non-critical) problems that you need to resolve.
Your rich cards can fall into any of these categories: Invalid, Enhanceable or Fully Enhanced. The latter means your cards are rendered correctly and are performing as they should. On the other hand, Invalid cards should be checked and fixed. When you have Enhanceable cards, this means that there are optional data fields that you can fill up to improve the performance of your structured data.
Should you be using Rich Cards? The answer is yes. There is always a stiff competition to get that precious real estate on top of the search results. And if you want your content to get to the top, you need to play by Google’s rules. At all times.