In mobile search results (and sometimes on desktop), when a page has multiple relevant images, Google can decide to show a selection of those images within the snippet for the page. This can happen for all types of pages.
A more common use of this format by Google is for eCommerce category pages. When a commercial query is searched, category pages can rank, and a selection of images can appear – giving the searcher a product preview.
In the latest Google Search test, I’m seeing this product preview being tested in various different formats. One resembling an organic product carousel (now referred to as a “free product listing”), and the other slightly different.
The other variation has the same pricing overlay, but with the name of the products being referenced below each image. Here’s what the two variations I’ve seen so far look like alongside the existing display:
Variation #1 has the most distinct format out of the two, with the pricing label taken from the product category and also the name of the product. Clicking an individual product takes you to the same category page URL.
The most common variation I’m seeing right now is variation #2. This is identified through the pricing overlay (the same as variation #1), but the ability to expand a ‘see more’ drop-down to view more product rows.
Variation #2 test is identified through the close similarity to the Popular Products Carousel, which I’ve posted about a lot in recent years. I’ve seen three distinct variations of Popular Products, and variation #2 is mash up between all three – in terms of the overlay and the ‘view more’ expansion feature.
Agreed on the different variations! There’s quite a few in the mix at the moment. Here’s the main 3 I know of. The original version, a hybrid of the original, and then the newer version for retail. Plenty to explore in this space. pic.twitter.com/TWAkRhbRZq— Brodie Clark (@brodieseo) November 20, 2020
For the product information that appears in the mobile snippet, it really resembles the Popular Products Carousel, which is powered by both Structured Data and product feeds submitted via Merchant Center. But I don’t have any hard evidence to suggest either (Schema or product feeds) power this snippet at all.
The existing mobile preview for category page images is just information Google is scraping from the page, with relevant and high quality images with alt text being a key input. So the existing function doesn’t directly use either of the Popular Product Carousel inputs.
This is where things start to become unclear, because with each of the test variations, the pricing has an automatic overlay for each of the product images. And the pricing is for the current price, even if discount pricing is specifically mentioned on the category page.
In the example above, it looks like Google has selected the on-sale pricing for the third product that appears in the sequence within the mobile snippet. But the price is $2 less, with the category page showing $140 and Google showing $138.
With product feeds, there wouldn’t be as many obvious discrepancies like this, hence why Google likely removed support for Structured Data to influence the free product listings within the Shopping tab.
My guess is that Google is just continuing to scrape content from the category page for displaying the product pricing and naming. And the $2 difference here (where I saw similar for other examples), may have related to discount pricing changing and Google being yet to catch up.
If you spot this test, or have any theories from your own testing for how it operates, let me know. Best place to reach me is via Twitter.
OK, will go ahead and say that this isn’t powered by Structured Data (in the context of https://t.co/03bqHs64w0). Some pages with the treatment had *some* Product Schema, but most didn’t. That leaves HTML or product feeds. I’d be surprised if G was using product feeds for this. https://t.co/4WkU0iXu0k pic.twitter.com/JCrb5xLy27— Brodie Clark (@brodieseo) March 29, 2021
So am going to put my money on HTML structure, with G algorithmically selecting relevant content to display. Also, as another finding, there’s actually 3 variations of this feature (not 2). Here’s what they all look like – slight differences with labels, drop-downs & desc text. pic.twitter.com/xoCL1rEgWK— Brodie Clark (@brodieseo) March 29, 2021
Looks like others are seeing this test too. Here’s a clip shared by Jackson Lo, showing variation #2 with the drop-down in action: