Google Introduces 'Rich Cards' for Content Previews in Search

The new search result format will give Website owners a way to play up their site's content more effectively, Google says.

Google rich cards

Google is giving Website owners a new way to stand out in search results.

The company has introduced a formatting feature in Google Search it is calling "rich

cards" that it says will give site owners a way to present a better preview of their content in search results.

Rich cards build on Google's rich snippets format in that they allow site owners an opportunity to present content from their sites in a more visually appealing way. With rich snippets, Google gave site owners a way to add an image to content previews that showed up in search results—an improvement from content previews in the standard result format.

With rich cards, Google will serve up the most relevant search results for a topic in carousels that scroll from left to right at the top of the search results page. The carousel for a particular search will contain rich cards featuring visual content previews from multiple sites or sometimes just one site, according to Na'ama Zohary, a member of Google's Search Console team, and Elliott Ng, product management director at Google Search, in a blog post this week. A single rich card for a particular recipe would show the site hosting the recipe, an image related to the recipe, a snippet of information about the recipe and a star rating for it.

"For site owners, this is a new opportunity to stand out in Search results and attract more targeted users to your page," the two Google managers said. "For example, if you have a recipe site, you can build a richer preview of your content with a prominent image for each dish," they said. The kind of visual formatting used in rich cards is designed to make it easier for Internet users to find what they are looking for, Ng and Zohary said.

Initially, the rich cards feature will only be available to owners of Websites in the movie and recipe content categories. And only mobile users conducting Google searches in English will see results in rich card format.

Google is experimenting with the rich preview format for other content categories. But the company has not said when it will start making the feature more broadly available to site owners and or when users conducting searches in non-English languages and on desktops or laptops will be able to get results in the rich card format.

In announcing the new format, Google this week also released new tools and new developer documentation to help developers and Website owners figure out how to use rich cards to boost Website performance.

The idea is to let site owners browse through the different rich card types that are available to them and to figure out which would work best with their content. Google has also made available screenshots and code samples showing how owners can optimize the content that shows up in rich cards by marking up specific fields in the code. The company is also offering tips on the technical and quality guidelines that apply to any content that shows up in rich cards.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.