"Rich snippets" and "Structured data" are not the same thing, but they are closely related.
- Structured Data: This is a method of formatting data using a specific schema that enables search engines and other applications to understand it better. Structured data provides explicit clues about the meaning of a page to search engines, such as the type of content or its purpose. This is often done using Schema.org vocabularies, JSON-LD, Microdata, or RDFa formats.
- Rich Snippets: These are a type of search result in Google and other search engines that show extra pieces of information along with the standard title, URL, and description. Rich snippets are an enhanced form of a standard search result that may include images, ratings, reviews, product availability, and other elements. These are generated when a search engine understands the structured data you've provided and decides to reward you with an enhanced listing.
In other words, structured data is a way of providing clear and detailed information about the content on your page to search engines.
If this information is recognized and considered useful for users, search engines might use it to create rich snippets, enhancing the visibility of your website in search results.