Have you recently Googled one of your highest-performing posts, only to find lackluster search results? If your post is missing rich results, read on.

screenshot of missing rich search result

In this article, we'll cover:

What are rich results?

Nearly every search nowadays has some sort of rich information like ratings, images, and reviews. Each of these “extra” bits that go beyond the title and meta description is considered rich information.

There are six rich result elements: Title, Description, Image, Rating, URL and Details.

Screenshot of rich search results

They entice the reader with an image and help build confidence with reviews, increasing the likelihood that readers will click through to your content. 

If you want to learn more about rich results, check out these articles from the WP Tasty and Food Blogger Pro archives. They provide a more in-depth look at search results and how to optimize for each element of the rich results:

I'm missing rich data in my search results. What do I do?

If you find your recipes or posts are missing elements of rich data (image, ratings, etc.), the Google Rich Results Test is the best place to start.

The Google Rich Results Test is optimized to tell us all what we really want to know: how our posts will appear in search results and what we can do to optimize that appearance.

Simply enter the URL of the post URL you want to know more about and the Google Rich Results Test will generate a report for your link.

rich results test

Review the Test Results

Let's take a look at those test results. The testing tool breaks down the results by each item detected on your post and gives you an overall eligibility rating. Green is good, red needs work.

The Green check mark ?

If you have a green check, you're good to go!

rich results test without errors

Often with the big green check, you'll also notice a few little text yellow warnings. These are nothing to worry about. Just expand that section and take a closer look at the warnings. From there you can decide if it's something you want to fix.

rich results test with a few yellow warnings

For instance, missing a recipe category is a simple fix, where as missing step videos or rich results images is a much more involved task and neither will prevent you from displaying rich results.

So everything looks great. You have a green check mark and a few warnings, but no errors. Your structured data (thanks to Tasty Recipes ? ) is in tip-top shape. Why aren't your recipes getting rich search results!?! Google is the boss, that's why.

Skip down to No rich results guarantees for more details.?

The red exclamation point! ?

rich results test with errors

If you have a red exclamation point, you will not be eligible for rich results. ? Let's get that fixed!

In this example, we expand the item with the error and see the error is coming from Missing field “description” which is a fancy way of letting us know this recipe has a step-by-step-video that is missing a description.

Tasty Recipes is designed to automatically pull those in from Vimeo or YouTube, so my first stop is going to be to check the description field in Vimeo.

Set Vimeo description

And BINGO! We forgot to add the description. This my favorite kind of fix – an easy one. Just add that description and head over to Google Search Console to validate the fix.

To validate the fix:

  1. Login to your Google Search Console account.
  2. Navigate to the error in the Enhancements Reports. In this example, it was a ‘Guided Recipes' error, so we'll open up the Guided Recipes report.
  3. Select your error from the Details list. For this example, the error was Missing field “description.”
  4. Validate the fix.
Google console errors

You should receive an email confirmation that the validation process has started. If there are any issues validating your posts, you will receive a follow up email from Google.

We just touched on one of the more common errors we see in rich results test, the ‘Missing field “description.”‘ Have other errors you need help fixing? Let us know in the comments.

No rich results guarantees

We know structured data is necessary for rich results and that you need a quality recipe card plugin to effortlessly add all of that structured data. Unfortunately, those two things together will not guarantee rich results. Straight from the Google horse's mouth.

Here at WP Tasty, we look at a lot of recipe sites. Like a lot. Often we see recipes displayed differently in search results based on device, search term, and even user.

There are loads of things that Google factors into these display rule algorithms. Here are some of the reasons your post may display differently in rich search results:

Using structured data enables a feature to be present, it does not guarantee that it will be present. The Google algorithm tailors search results to create what it thinks is the best search experience for a user, depending on many variables, including search history, location, and device type. In some cases it may determine that one feature is more appropriate than another, or even that a plain blue link is best.

The structured data is not representative of the main content of the page, or is potentially misleading.

The structured data is incorrect in a way that the Rich Results Test was not able to catch.

The content referred to by the structured data is hidden from the user.

The page does not meet the guidelines for structured data described here, the type-specific guidelines, or the general webmaster guidelines.


So what can I do?

Most importantly, set up Google Search Console for your domain. In addition to sending you email alerts when Google finds issues on your site it will also:

  • Analyze your site's impressions, clicks, and position on Google Search.
  • Allow you to submit your sitemap and individual URLs for crawling. 
  • Give you a better understanding of how Google Search sees your pages.

After you've set up Google Search Console, continue to publish quality content with up-to-date structured data. If you're using Tasty Recipes, that part is easy. This easy WordPress recipe plugin takes care of all the structured data updates for you. All you need to do is focus on creating great content.

Lastly, take a deep breath and relax. You've done all you can. It's in the hands of Google, so be patient and don't focus too much on the search results of a single recipe.