This blog will tell you how to use Search Console to monitor and optimize your performance with Google-rich results. By the time you finish this article, you will understand what rich results are, how to monitor the appearance of the rich result on Google Search, where to find errors in your structured data, and how to ask Google to validate fixes you've done to your website.
Before we deeply study Search Console, we want to say a few words about structured data and rich results.
As an introduction, if you haven't heard about it or to refresh your memory. When you search on Google, you can see many kinds of results, including blue links with text snippets and rich results. For example, if you search for a venue or a music band, you may get results that show you nearby events, or if you search for falafel recipes, you may get instructions on how to cook it. Those are the perfect examples of rich results.
If you own a website, you might want to trigger this type of result for your site as it can be more attractive to users. For that, you'll need to implement structured data markup. In a nutshell, here's what your decision-making process should look like-
- Review the Search Gallery examples
- Find the structured data type that matches your content
- Check guidelines and requirements to be eligible to appear on the search
- Implement the markup on your pages
After you do that, you can start using Search Console to help optimize your implementation and monitor your performance. In addition to the Search Console Interface, you can also use a public structured data testing tool called Rich Results Test. This tool can verify the syntax of your structured data and, in some cases, provide a sample of what the result might look like in Google Search.
You can either upload a piece of code or check a specific URL for Google to crawl. The tool shows whether your implementation has any errors. You'll also have the option to preview your page's search appearance on Google Search results and how Googlebot will see it. Checking your own code can be pretty helpful during development cycles to ensure your structure data is valid even before you move to production.
Over time, as the pages with structured data are indexed by Google, Search Console will start showing reports for those structured data types. After you sett up your pages and get them indexed, try to monitor their performance next.
Let's run through an example of how you check the performance of your rich results on your site. First, open the Search Console and navigate to the Performance Report. Select Search appearance in the tabs just below the main chart. You'll see at a glance the volume of traffic coming to your website through rich results. To understand the performance of your rich results over time, add the future to the report, including only rich results.
By clicking the Rich results row in the table, you can do it. This will update your performance charts to show your rich results traffic by queries, pages, countries, and devices. You might find patterns in your data that show how important or how unimportant a specific segment of traffic is. Perhaps a specific group of queries or pages are not driving rich results, which could point to opportunities to enhance your structured data implementation.
Additionally, you might notice a drop in rich results performance if your structured data implementation was affected by a website change. Once you have a better idea of your overall performance, you should take a closer look at each specific structured data report in order to learn about warnings and errors that Google has encountered on your website.
Errors disqualify your rich results from being shown in Google Search, but you may still be shown through a standard plain blue link. Warnings offers a reduced experience for users. When the Search console detects structured data for one of the supported rich results types on your website, it will create a report for each, summarizing all errors and warnings, and it will send an email to account owners. However, if an existing issue gets worse, there won’t be any email. So it is important for you to check your account periodically. This is not something you need to do every day, but we recommend you check it once in a while to make sure everything is working as intended.
For example, if your website development has defined cycles, it might be a good idea to log in to Search Console after changes are made to the website to check that nothing has broken down. You'll find the structured data reports under the enhancements section in the sidebar. You will see a report only if Search Console has data for that rich result type on your site and Search Console offers a report for that type. Open the structured data type summary report you have access to. By default, you'll see the trends for error items in the main chart, but you can also click Valid with warnings and Valid to check their trends in the chart and more details in the table.
The bar chart is great for monitoring trends over time, but you'll probably want to check the details in the table below the chart, which provides the specific issues that Google found on your website. To get more details on a specific issue, click one of the errors to open a detailed report. Here, you'll see the date when the error was detected, the number of errors over time, and examples of pages where Google detected it. You can click a specific example page to check instances of the error in your HTML code. Now that you know what needs to be fixed, you have two options: make the required code change yourself or share the details with a developer that can perform code changes to your website. You can do that by grabbing a link using the Share button. After you or your developer have fixed the error, click Validate Fix, and Google will validate your changes.
There are quite a few types of errors and warnings. So, if you don't understand what's wrong, check the developer documentation on the specific structured data type you implemented. You can find a list of them in the Search Gallery.
Before you get started with all this, remember that if Google finds structure data that, for some reason, breaks while parsing the page before it can even identify the rich result type. In that case, it will show that item as an error in the unparsable structured data report. Parsing issues could point you to lost opportunities for rich results for your site. It would help if you fixed the errors in this report to get the benefits of structured data. Once they're fixed, the page structure data will be added to Google, or, in case there is still an issue, it will show up in the respective structured data report.
Hopefully, you'll be more comfortable monitoring and optimizing your rich results from now on.