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Google Introduces Rich Cards

Last month, Google began returning “rich card” results for US mobile searches, giving brands even more reason to be using structured data as part of their SEO strategies.

While the rich card results are currently limited to recipes and movies, the search engine claims to be “actively experimenting” with other ways for publishers to make use of rich previews — so it’s likely we’ll see this expand, and arrive in the UK, in the coming months.

Rich cards are essentially a more visual incarnation of rich snippet results, and are commonly displayed in a carousel alongside results from other websites. These carousels combine several elements users are already familiar with:

  • Displayed above standard SERPs (just like featured snippets/rich answers). This leaves just one standard organic result above the fold
  • Rich snippet data (e.g. images, star ratings, show times, etc.)
  • Carousel layout (similar to Google Shopping results)

Standard results, rich snippets and rich cards

Image source: Google 

This comes shortly after the news that Google is expanding the display width of the search results column — a move that adds an extra 100px to featured snippets, local pack results, Adwords, and regular organic search results on desktop.

Rich cards are mobile-only at the moment, but the resized search results column gives its desktop counterparts more room to breathe. If the rich cards carousel ever makes its way to desktop, this would potentially allow more cards to be displayed simultaneously.

How are rich cards chosen?

A featured snippet is not always from the top-ranking site, and often comes from further down page 1 — and we can expect to see the same kind of thing happening with rich cards. A page can rank well in standard results without using structured data, but it can't become a rich result.

As such, using structured data is a great opportunity for fast-acting brands to leapfrog the top organic results, and earn themselves a spot above the fold.

You can check structured data for pages using the new search console rich cards report. This categorises rich cards according to status, allowing you to go through your enhanceable and invalid cards and improve them. The rich card statuses are:

  • Invalid — critical errors in required fields, preventing the rich cards from being read
  • Enhanceable — non-critical errors, such as missing optional information
  • Fully Enhanced — All fields populated correctly, no issues

You can also use the Structured Data Testing Tool to test markup (Google recommends JSON-LD for rich previews).

What does this mean for brands? 

As discussed in Seb’s Content Marketing Masterclass talk, CTR for featured snippets is much higher than standard organic results — up to 80% in some cases — and we can expect to see similar results for rich cards. While CTR will of course depend on position within the carousel, it’s still likely we’ll see higher CTR compared to standard organic results.

Most interestingly, though, expansion of the desktop search width and the launch of a new type of rich result are both further evidence of the direct-to-object, mobile-friendly and overall intuitive approach Google is taking to search. Time to result, after all, is one of Google’s most important KPI’s for measuring success.

If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to start implementing structured data — the opportunities for rich previews are growing, and many brands are still not considering it as a serious part of their strategy. For early adopters, a little optimisation will go a long way.

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