Featured snippets: What are they & how do you own them? | SEO in the Shed
Hi, Jon Earnshaw here, Chief Product Evangelist at Pi Datametrics! Welcome to my first ever ‘SEO in the Shed‘ video, where I share my musings, insights and takeaways with you from the comfort of my garden shed, no less!
For those of you that have come here for my Featured Snippets Cheat Sheet, you can get it here:
I’ve included my notes below, for you to have a read through if you’re unable to watch 🙂
Google is one of the most trusted sources of news, beating media agencies. People go to it for guidance and information, from the trivial to the vital.
For reasons of reputation management, it is important to have friendly and accurate sources in the top results of Google. But in recent years the requirement has grown in scope.
Google now provides not just answers to your searches (Answer Cards), but prompts for related searches that other people have asked (People Also Ask), and a whole host of other information sources, known as SERP Features.
These features are a reflection of searcher intent. They can help you get inside the mind of the searcher.
What is Google’s Answer Card feature?
A Google ‘Answer card’ is a SERP feature, that appears above the organic results and seeks to directly answer a specific question. It is reliant on schema markup, which enables Google to crawl the page, and scrape content that is pertinent to the question.
What is Google’s People Also Ask Feature?
Google’s ‘People Also Ask’ feature is a curation of computer generated answers to queries, which use a number of signals to keep the generated query relevant. Because of this, the boxes are seemingly infinite, if you click on the boxes it generates more boxes, and this will go on and on, with the queries becoming more and more unrelated and potentially nonsensical.
In both examples, Google is looking for small serviceable answers. No more than a paragraph or a couple of bullet points that give a snapshot to the answer.
What are the benefits of Featured Snippets?
- You have a visual advantage
- You are recognised as thought leader and may gain more trust as you’ve succinctly matched search intent
- You are often able to take up two spaces on page 1 of the SERPs; position 0 and your original position – although this may be changing
What are the disadvantages of Featured Snippets?
Because these features are so effective in providing results, your traffic might drop.
In fact, a recently updated study by RandFishkin from SparkToro, shows that 50% of Google searches result in no-click.
According to Josef Wallis from BooxsScale “Googles first KPI was how quickly they could hand off a user from the search engine to a website. Now its the opposite”
But are these Google features really ‘stealing clicks’?
It isn’t possible to present full answers to a lot of queries in most cases, so it’s therefore rare for the snippet to carry enough information to entirely satisfy people’s queries.
Matthew Hunt also made this great statement on LinkedIn, on the subject:
“Less traffic does not mean fewer opportunities, just different opportunities!”
And that is so right. If we lose this kind of traffic, will it really affect our ROI? Or will it just impact our vanity traffic?
The majority of the queries that are succinctly answered within the SERPs, would never result in a sale or conversion in the first place.
Is this, therefore, a faux fear?
In my mind, these features provide the opportunity for your brand to gain immeasurable brand awareness and trust.
So, without further ado, how do we appear in the ‘Answer card’?
How do you optimize for Featured Snippets?
- Get on page 1
- Target any US answer cards in the UK, as a quick win
- Create something better than the current Answer Card / Provide updated information, and Google will prioritise this ‘Freshness’
- Take the most frequent PAA questions & create content to match*
- Focus on the most frequently asked types of questions: “How”, “Is” and “Why”
- Match the format of the current ‘Answer card’ if it works. If not…
- Decide on what will look best – a numbered list, BPs or paragraph.
- If it’s a paragraph use close to 45 to 50 words.
- If it’s a list or table, format as such.
- Use clean HTML – make Google’s life easy.
- Use a CTA.
- Make it clear that there is ‘More detail’ to encourage click through.
- Include the question in the Title and potentially the H1.
- Be accurate and approach the topic from a position of authority.
- Cite available sources further down the page.
- Make sure all content on the page matches question intent.
- Link from a related webpage, using the PAA text as the anchor.
* Map People Also Ask question data to your high volume search term, to build out a content strategy that understands the multiple pathways a user can take. You can then track the appearance of these questions over a week, identify the most prominent one, and answer it succinctly within your content.
Thanks for reading and / or watching. I hope you found the above useful! For even more takeaways, download my Featured Snippet Cheat Sheet Below:
And for more content like this, you can do one of a few things: