As someone who has invested hundreds of hours into Schema.org and optimizing for Rich Features in search, I wanted to understand the impact and ROI of all my work. In this video case study, I share my findings on the impact of Rich Results on impressions, clicks, and organic traffic growth. Spoiler Alert, the results may surprise you!
As I said briefly in the opener, we’re going to be looking at a case study I recently finished up on the impact of rich features. I wanted to see how these rich features impacted organic traffic and also the impressions and clicks that we were getting from search results after we’ve earned these.
What I was trying to understand was how does earning a SERP feature impact impressions, the clicks and the organic traffic to our website? Structured data is one of the main things that we talk about here on this channel. We talk a lot about how we can earn these rich features, leveraging schema.org.
What I wanted to learn was what was the impact? What was the ROI of investing and adding this markup to our websites? Before we get into the results, let’s talk a little bit about what rich features are. That way everyone’s on the same page.
A rich feature is a search engine results option. This can be a featured snippet. It could be an FAQ box, videos, video carousels, review stars. There’s a ton of them available to us right now. You can go to the Google search gallery and they will walk you through each one of those and even show you the JSON code that you need to implement on your site if you want to earn some of these rich features that are influenced by schema.org. These features help our website stand out in search and Google has been testing a number of new features, and they’re always trying things on mobile and desktop.
And the goal behind them is to increase user engagement and to get people the most relevant results as fast as possible. Now, what this has led to is a number of websites seeing a large decrease in search traffic. The main reason why this has also led to a huge increase of zero-click searches. People go right to the search results, they type in, Google gives them the answer within a SERP feature or in a box, people leave because they’ve got the information they’ve wanted. I wanted to know what is the impact on my sites, on the impressions on the clicks on the organic traffic after earning these rich results. We’ve invested in structured data, schema optimization and implementation for a number of our clients. And I want to know, okay, what is the actual impact of earning these rich results?
Here’s my hypothesis. I believed that leveraging structured data using schema.org would result in more impressions, clicks and traffic after that site has earned a rich results feature. For this study, we looked at seven different sites across a variety of verticals. As you can see here, software, local business, manufacturing, IT and the marketing services sector. We also targeted the following rich features. Rich results, review rich results, FAQ rich results, product results and videos. We used search console to help pull the impressions and the clicks data and we were able to see whether or not a site had earned a rich feature by using the search appearance filter within search console. When it came to organic traffic, we created two different segments within Google analytics to track the control group, as well as the group that had earned that rich feature within that time period.
The first one we looked at were products, and we were able to add some product markup to a client site. A larger e-commerce site, B2B e-commerce site. And we were able to add this code dynamically to all the products on the site. Now because we did this, we weren’t able to have a control group because every single product on the site now had product review on it. What we did is we compared the time before to the time after, and this was the only major SEO task performed on the product pages during the time period of this test. Here are the results. After we added product markup on these pages and we earned these rich features. Things like the prices and product details right within the search results, here’s what happened. We saw impressions increase almost 120%, clicks increased over 100%.
We saw increase of organic users at 42% and the increase of sessions at 34.44%. Across the board, we saw a huge jump in traffic to these product pages. Now, as you can see, the bounce rate did go up a little bit. The pages per session did drop a little bit. The average site duration did drop a little bit, but when we looked at the e-commerce conversions, we saw these pages increased over 500% when it came to revenue and it generated almost 100,000 more than the previous period. Again, this was the only major tasks that we performed on these pages, and you can’t expect this to happen on every site before this customer alone adding in these features, adding in this additional element in the search results had a huge impact, not just in the visibility of the pages, but also in the conversion once those people landed on that page itself.
And my belief is because the user actually got some really helpful information before clicking into the page. They saw what it would cost, they saw a little bit more about the product. They already had those expectations going in and it allowed them to easily make that transition from a browser… Somebody looking for a product into a customer looking to actually make a transaction.
The next feature we looked at were reviews. Reviews, these are the five stars that you can put under your site when you review, whether it’s a product or service or a company. And the URLs we used here were also a part of a large structured data project we were working with, with a client. And again, like the products test, this was the second in the final group that didn’t have a control group.
The only SEO work done during this time was the test and implementation of these reviews. Let’s take a look at the results. Here we tested about 1500 pages a little bit more than that and the results were actually kind of interesting. There was an increase of impressions, about 18.2%. And that was cool, like to see that in more visibility, but there’s actually a slight decrease in the number of clicks from those impressions. We did see an increase in traffic, organic traffic, but the decrease in clicks was definitely interesting. So, a lot of times when you add a rich feature, you assume that it’s automatically going to make somebody click a little bit more. What seemed in this space is there’s already a lot of people who are in this space using the review feature. It didn’t necessarily set them apart anymore. They did get a little more visibility. They did get some nice gains in organic traffic, but I think there’s some other things that we can do to optimize for clicks a little more other than just having the review features in here.
Definitely an interesting feature, definitely one that I would implement and try on a number of different cases. But in this case, in this test instance, we did see a slight decrease in clicks. The next one we looked at was rich results. And as you can see here, we have an example of a featured snippet, but the rich results appearance is a combination of not just the featured snippets, but a number of them. According to Google, rich results under search appearance and search console is actually a combination of pages that show up with rich cards or other forms of rich snippets.
A lot of cases, you can’t use a schema markup to earn these positions, but I wanted to see how these featured snippets and other rich cards impacted the performance of the website. In this case, we did have an experiment group and a control group. And you can see on the left side, the controls and the experiment would be on the right. And then I’ve broken down the actual percentages here in this box.
As you can see in this graph here that the experiment group had a huge increase in impressions compared to the control group. The control group did see a rise in impressions, but compared to the experimental group, it wasn’t even close. But if we look down at the click data or the traffic data, the control group won on clicks, users and sessions. They’re pretty close when it came to users and sessions, but the control group had a 30% point increase over the experimental group when it came to clicks.
This is an interesting finding, at least for me. And it kind of talks a little bit more into that zero-click search where these rich cards can definitely increase the amount of visibility you’re getting to your site, but they don’t necessarily mean it’s going to drive more traffic to your site. People are coming, they make it to the answer they want straight from that rich card and then they might leave or change their query and search for something else.
These are interesting features. There’s definitely features that will help increase your visibility but again, like I said, they don’t necessarily translate into more organic traffic.
Video is something that is close to my heart. Obviously I’m making a video right now. I leverage YouTube quite a bit. We put video across our website and then we also markup the video so we can earn rich features like this. Video can show up in a few different places. They’ve got the video carousels, they’ve got video search and not to mention YouTube and some of the other factors there. Again, I’ve invested a lot of time and energy in video. So understanding how video impacts organic search makes a lot of sense for me. For this test, we had an experimental group and a control group. We could gauge the differences between the two and once again, we saw that video is increasing the overall impressions, not quite as much as we saw on the rich cards, but definitely an increase over the control group. But once again, we’ve seen the control group win out in the clicks. We’re also seeing the control group win in overall organic users and organic sessions. Video is a really great way to increase some visibility.
I think there’s ways you can optimize the titles and the meta descriptions probably better and to increase your click-through rate, obviously videos on a number of different platforms when it comes straight to search, it can help increase your visibility. It has helped increase our visibility and the clients that we’ve worked with on it. But there’s definitely not as big of an increase in organic traffic, as I was thinking there might be, especially when you see video and a lot of people like to leverage video. I am going to do a deeper study when it comes to video and look at the impact of this on YouTube results, as well as maybe breaking down some of the features like videos versus video carousels, and some of the other alternatives we have in rich cards. But looking at it from an overall perspective, we did see an increase in impressions, but the control groups won in the other areas.
The final type of rich feature we looked at was FAQs. Now this is one of my favorite targets because it gives you this massive rich result where your listing is very big within the search results. Google has made some limitations on this because obviously when you have an opportunity to have a massive listing like this, SEOs are going to the take opportunity and try to increase the amount of real estate they own on the page. Google limited this to three FAQs per a query. You have to jockey and earn one of those FAQs. But if you do on this, you have huge real estate within the search results and it can be extremely lucrative. Let’s look at the results here for FAQ. Unlike some of the other featured snippet groups, the experimental group blew the control group out of the water.
As you can see, we saw the pages that had an FAQ, their impressions increased over 330%. Their clicks increased over 800%. Organic traffic was up massively from users and sessions just by earning these FAQ positions. The control groups did see increases, but nowhere near what the FAQs did. The reason I believe this are so important and so helpful is because they give so much context to the user. The user can see within the search results, from the beginning and start to have some understanding of what that page is about. Is it going to answer the questions that they have? And then it leads them to click deeper into that site itself. So as you can see, FAQs can be extremely powerful. Now, again, this has been limited to only three per query when they are available to rank for.
So you really got to make sure that you have quality content, that you have unique content, and that it’s really answering users’ questions. But if you can earn these and you can do it well, you can have a massive increase in traffic to these pages because you’re giving so much more context and so much more information to the users to really help them along their journey.
Was my hypothesis proven true? Like I said, in the beginning, I was believed that this would allow us to increase impressions, clicks, and traffic once we earned a rich feature. Now, in most cases, it did increase traffic, impressions and clicks. There was one case where we did see a decrease in clicks, which was in the reviews. It wasn’t fully supported, but overall rich features did have a positive impact on search. They didn’t always outperformed the control groups, but in the FAQ example, they massively did. These are definitely features that we want to target as business owners, as SEOs in order to make sure that we are optimizing our site, not only be understood better for the users to give them these powerful rich features to help them along their search journey, but also marking up our data and adding those structured elements of the search engines to better understand the context of our site, which is the backbone behind semantic search, which is a video we just recently did.
If you’re interested in learning more about that, I highly recommend you checking out that video. If you want to learn how to leverage structured data deeper on your site, learn how to implement schema.org into your pages so that you can earn these rich features, I’ve created a step by step course that explains how it works and then how you can implement it on your site. And we walk through it with you step by step to make sure that you can get the most out of your website. As the screen says here, we’re launching this site soon. It’s not completely finished at this point, but what we’re offering for people who have followed us and who have watched our videos in the past, that if they sign up now, we’re going to give them a massive discount and a couple of extra freebies for taking this journey with us.
And we’re also building a community to help connect with other SEOs, other professionals in this space that want to leverage structured data a little more for SEO. So I hope that you found this video helpful. If you’ve got any questions about the case study we did, or you want to read the entire case study in full, you can also check out simplifiedsearch.net. I’m going to put a link to the case study in this video as well. And until next time, Happy Marketing.