SERP Change Alert: 4 Must-Know Facts for Google’s New Rich Card Carousel

Google continues to invest in the user experience and expand the diversity of universal results above the traditional text results, so it is imperative that content marketers stay up-to-date and evolve their universal content capabilities and offerings. BrightEdge Research has clearly indicated that users find images engaging and useful. Tweets with images receive 5 times the engagement, Facebook posts with images receive 39 percent more interaction and articles with images have 94 percent more views than those without. 

For certain queries that are more visually relevant, Google has been working over the past year to improve the user experience. Last summer they introduced a carousel display for particular queries on mobile. When announcing the change, the search engine specifically mentioned that those looking for results such as Houzz idea books, Food Network recipes, Vines and Pinterest pins would be able to easily scroll through the different options to find the results that were the most applicable to them.

Google New Rich Card Carousel sample Google New Rich Card Carousel

On May 17, 2016 the search engine giant announced another change in their display. They began to use rich cards in the carousel for certain queries. Right now, this change is impacting movies and recipes. It is initially rolling out on mobile, but some are appearing on desktop as well. The possibility of the changes being introduced for other queries also remains open in the future.

What does this mean for marketers?

Rich cards help to create a visually appealing listing for brands, allowing them to prominently display certain features that will draw in users. A great example would be a delectable image of a dish for a certain recipe site. When rich cards are used correctly, they can be an excellent way to attract traffic. Google says that they are experimenting to find more ways for websites to create rich previews, so even if you do not deal directly with recipes or movies, you still want to pay attention to these developments.

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Google has said that these changes will be initially rolling out over mobile, but that it is possible that they will be expanding to desktop. This result for the best movies in 2015 was pulled off of desktop on May 24, 2016.

Google New Rich Card Carousel best movies

The carousel on mobile covers the first 4 results on the SERP, which leaves only 1 regular result above the fold and will undoubtedly increase competition for this position. This forces brands to pay more attention to their optimization efforts, including their on-page optimization, content development process and distribution efforts. Organizations must again remember to prioritize data-driven content development strategies and the importance of having consumer value the primary focus of the entire optimization process.

Fact 1: The new display system also encourages brands to pay more attention to their rich markup. Using schema is a commonly overlooked opportunity, but with the increase in rich displays, brands need to make sure they do not neglect this step. If Google creates more rich displays in the future that are more applicable to your industry, doing the markup now will ensure that you are prepared and optimized from the first roll out.

How should marketers maximize their appearance in the rich card carousel?

All sites, but particularly those that deal with recipes and movies, need to maximize their schema. Google has issued guidelines to help brands who have recipe or movie-oriented sites optimize their appearance.

Fact 2: The search engine recommends that brands use JSON-LD in their markup to ensure that the data is properly understood and displayed.

Fact 3: They have also developed a new Search Console rich card checking tool that will help you see how many rich cards your site has been optimized for to ensure that you have done your markup correctly.

If you have a recipe that you would like to have appear as a rich card, you need to follow Google’s system, which is explained here. You also want to make sure your markup includes a visually appealing image that will attract the desired attention when included on the carousel.

Fact Group 4: It is also important to note that Google has issued a few rules for website publishers to keep in mind when determining if their website would be eligible for this type of markup and rich card display:

  • The markup has to be for a single, specific dish– general topics such as ‘party ideas’ or lists of recipes on a single page will not be displayed in this format.
  • If the recipe markup has a single review included, the quote must come from a real person or organization.
  • You will need to provide an ItemList markup to create a summary of your recipes that are on the list if you want the recipes included in a host-specific list.
  • If you do have a host-specific site, then that site must include a summary page that has all the recipes in the collection. This is so that users who click on the summary link from the SERP can trust that they will see a page that includes all the recipes that are related to their search.

If you have a website that focuses on movies, Google currently only has the display host-specific carousel. You can markup your page for an ItemList, but this feature is still in experimental mode and will not currently show up on the SERPs. You should also note that Google currently wants links to sites that support autoplay. For more information about how to markup your site for a movie, visit the Google recommendations here.

Google continues to make changes and adjustments to the appearance of their search results in an effort to make results more relevant and attractive for their end user. The creation of the results carousel and the rich card is only the latest development in this process, although more are sure to come. Brands who want to ensure that their websites remain relevant and appealing to users should pay attention to these developments. Since the search engine is making it clear that they are paying attention to the visual appeal of rich markups, all websites should be taking advantage of the schema to make sure they are ready to maximize the appearance of their content whenever the opportunity arises.