A few months ago Google updated part of their search algorithm, improving an aspect of their featured snippets display.
This change was not too noticeable, just a minor update on the display. But before describing it further, let’s explain what these google featured snippets are.
They are prominent and so very important in the online marketers’ eyes.
How could marketing experts benefit from them?
Why do they show up, are there any advantages focusing on them in terms of getting web traffic?
Tested first in 2014 in the United States and later carried out over Europe, they capture a prominent spot for online searches, with the goal of giving a direct explanation to a particular query.
As they occupy the prime location at the top of the SERPs rankings, they are a great SEO opportunity for adding visitors to a website.
They are positioned above any other result, i.e. they are on top of position one. Therefore they are said to be at position zero in SEO lingo.
What are the mechanisms behind them?
The Snippets Explained
Online marketing is a vast and complex universe combining many technical SEO terms, often unknown to the majority of people who surf the web.
However one needs to grasp the fundamentals of SEO to reach the highest spots in Google.
The goal of SEO is to increase visibility and visitor count, in other words, traffic.
Working on the materials you publish is a key step. Make sure it responds well to users’ requests.
Google’s goal is to dispatch a pertinent and universal response to a specific query. Let’s not forget Google remains the sole master on board and that SEO is still an inexact science.
Let’s take a closer look. Each of them has a box shape, offering a clear and succinct reply to a user’s question, in the form of text from a web page, sometimes accompanied by an image.
For example, if you type “when do penguins sleep” in Google, you should see such an insert located at position zero on the highest.
The quest for this Holy Grail of a spot in the SERPs attracts many SEO experts and business owners, who often use an SEO agency for improving their traffic.
Featured content generally responds to a search query in the form of a question as follows:
- It forms a text block of about 300 words
- It can integrate an image (not necessarily from the page concerned)
- It displays the page title, as well as its URL, both clickable
Featured snippets can appear differently in Google, as they can fall under three different types of presentations.
In paragraph form: This common form provides a clear response to the request entered by the user, with an explanation of a few lines.
In the form of a list: This presentation responds to queries such as “how to defrost bread” or “COVID-19 symptoms”. The result showcases is a succession of data presented in the form of a list of steps to follow as part of a recipe.
In tabular form: It is an answer responding to questions related to data or classification, for example, “school holidays 2020” or “best cuisines London”.
Benefits for SEO
Definite advantages are to consider; this is how they can be useful.
- They are more visible than regular blue links in results
- They allow(ed) your presence twice on the front page of SERPs
- They provide up to 30% more natural traffic
- They make it more likely to appear in voice results
Getting better visibility and, by extension, gaining traffic is the first goal sought by website owners. Whether you have a corporate site, a blog, or an e-commerce site, visibility and traffic should always be our primary objectives.
How to appear in them?
Google selects content from within all the pages which are indexed. It is in a webmaster’s interest to provide great and useful advice or data in reply to a query. That way the algorithm may recognize his web content as being the most pertinent.
There are a few rules for doing this:
- Identify the queries most frequently asked by Internet users
- Respond to them in a pertinent, clear and concise manner
- Analyze competing featured snippets to offer better response and dethrone them
- Improve your best-indexed articles: you will be more likely to obtain it if you appear(ed) in the top 10 of Google
- Structure your page using meta keywords and description, h1, h2 tags…
- Write tables and lists in HTML.
- Add images
For once, this was an update they took the time to explain through twitter.
The snippet (i.e. position zero) was often allocated to the strongest site on page one, and in such a case, the site could rank from, say, the top three spots, in addition to position zero.
This was an excellent opportunity to have two spots in the top results, but not anymore!
Changing the algorithm using a technique called deduplication, the search engine is now discarding any organic ranking and only keeps the snippet. Therefore the winning site that gets them will lose its second result on page one.
In other words, my website cannot get two spots, now you can only get one place, either position zero, or any other position on page one, from position one to ten.
This adds a slight diversification to the search engine results, with a total of eleven sites instead often on page one. Not a significant change, just a small change affecting the top sites ranking in position zero.
Not as formidable as before, featured snippets are still worth it.
In terms of organic rankings, visibility can be significantly improved by mastering the techniques related to them. To be chosen, you must refine your content by tackling the subject matter rigorously.
The idea is to provide the ideal answer to a specific question the user asks himself when searching on the web. The relevancy of the answer is the main criterion while covering the subject in depth. Rich and substantive content will have a better chance of positioning itself at the top at position zero.