Rich Cards get to the top of Google
You’ve almost certainly seen Rich Cards in use in Google, particularly if you use it to search out small nuggets of information. “200C in F”, “horchata recipe”, or “how to cure a common cold” might, at any given point in time, bring up a card.
These snippets of information are immensely useful to the owners of the websites they’re pulled from. And cards, as a design element and a philosophy, are clearly the direction in which Google is moving.
The Front End
Here’s what a rich card looks like when I search for “how to cure a common cold”:
Google pulls this information from specially formatted data on web pages (in this case from the Mayo Clinic), and presents it in its own boxed off area, with very slightly rounded corners, and a touch of drop shadow, to make it look smoother. And that card, crucially, appears right at the top of the search engine results page.
That means that it’s above the other organic results, and usually even above the ads (or sometimes after one ad). If your website is set-up for rich cards, you can appear in that coveted top-of-the-page slot.
The Back End
Google has been working on rich cards since last summer – or rather, they announced how rich cards would work then, and had been putting the background in place for some time.
The information is drawn from web pages with properly structured schema.org markup, and there are a few different ways to go about this, depending on what you’re describing. For example, an eLearning course might be described thus:
“name”: “Code Development Course”,
“description”: “Our Code Development Course introduces you to internal and external documentation, repository management, and editing environments.”,
“name”: “eLearning Company”,
This code can be manually constructed (which is more useful to get started, particularly if you only have a small number of courses), or generated from your CMS. It’s extremely flexible, and Google has a gallery showing various samples of code for recipes, events, products, reviews, and courses.
Once you have your information in place, Google also provides search console information about rich cards on your website, so you can see how they’re working for you.
The Future of Google Rich Cards
Google is likely to move more and more toward card-based displays, and toward encouraging specific encoding of material on websites. This is part of the larger thinking about the “semantic web”, sometimes called Web 3.0, which uses data formats and exchange protocols to make information clearer, more searchable, and more immediately useful.
At the moment, rich cards are more useful in an immediate, tactical sense, but it’s reasonable to say that making use of them will get you started on the longer-term strategic benefits. It would be no surprise, for example, if Google started to prioritize websites that use rich card data in organic search, even if the cards are not shown for particular searches.
After all, a website that has rich card information built in is more likely to have paid attention to the quality of its information in general, and that’s the core of Google’s overall requirements for websites.
Rich cards are one part of Google’s ongoing development. They will undoubtedly be picked up by other search engines in the near future, and eLearning providers that are using them will have even more of a head start. They’re very much worth adding to your website.