Featured Snippets. They’re a highly coveted spot on Google’s SERPs and despite the fact that they’ve been around since 2013, they didn’t get their official ‘Featured Snippet’ name until 2016. When done properly, scoring a featured snippet could put your business on the road to El Dorado – research has shown that sites on position zero receive 32% of all clicks on page one. However, it’s no secret that obtaining that rich answer (and keeping it) requires good SEO efforts and excellent answers. The team at Ricemedia wanted to test a few variables to see just how ‘easy’ it is to get a featured snippet, and how long it took to get them. Here’s what we found out!
We’d achieved position zero within 24 hours
At the beginning of 2018 our SEO & Digital Marketing Events to Attend in 2018 blog had achieved position zero (in list format) for the following search queries:
- SEO Events 2018
- Digital Marketing Events 2018
- SEO Events and Digital Marketing Events 2018
So, we wanted to see if we could repeat this and followed the same structure in the blog, SEO & Digital Marketing Events to Attend in 2019. The blog went live on 10th January, and we were ranking for a featured snippet by 11th January. Within 24 hours of the content being published, Google had indexed it, crawled it and it was ranking for two out of the three snippets its sister blog had obtained.
The list format of the blog was kept the same, we kept the same amount of images in the 2019 post, and we also kept the H1 the same (obviously we changed ‘2018’ to ‘2019’). What’s interesting is that the 2019 post didn’t get a featured snippet for ‘digital marketing events 2019’ – that result was serving a table snippet by another site.
Mobile SERPs were different to Desktop SERPs
While it’s no secret that mobile results and desktop results differ, we were surprised to see Google serve a completely different format of rich answer on mobile. Google were serving their own event cards that were interactive and gave mobile users the ability to click on said events and find out more. It’s important to mention that this was only tested on iPhone, and could show a different result for Android. We also found that in some instances, Google would offer one answer on its Knowledge Panel on desktop, and a Featured Snippet with a link on mobile…
While organic traffic to the site increased, bounce rate suffered.
Another interesting finding was that while we saw organic traffic increase to the site when we’d achieved featured snippets, the bounce rate had suffered. We could argue that this is because a featured snippet offers a new way of searching – if the user has everything they need from the Featured Snippet, then there’s a chance that they will not click on the link, or if they do, then they won’t spend as much time on the page, therefore impacting the bounce rate. It’s no secret that featured snippets and voice search is changing the scope of SERPs, so it’s really important to think about what type of snippet you’re after and would benefit from.
Does this mean snippets may harm traffic?
Once users get the information they need from the snippet, there’s a chance that they won’t click through to said ranking site, or any other site on the SERPs at all, suggesting that featured snippets are traffic thieves. In March, Search Engine Roundtable announced that Wikipedia Lost 21% of their traffic after Google Featured Snippets launched, suggesting that snippets can be harmful to traffic.
Alongside this, that snippet may have a bias answer, and if the user doesn’t click through to other sources, they’ll have limited information that isn’t necessarily correct. Remember when Google said that Barack Obama was the King of the United States?
We got more snippets for blog posts in comparison to landing pages
We found that getting a featured snippet on a blog post was a little easier in comparison to getting a featured snippet for a landing page. That’s not to say that landing pages won’t rank for snippets, but if you want to go for question style snippets, such as the 5 W (who, what, when, where, why) style snippets, then a blog post is probably your best bet. When you consider user intent (especially for B2B) this makes sense, as the person you’re targeting already knows what they are after (in an ideal world) when they land on that all important service page; they’re further down the funnel. When you compare this to someone who’s looking for a solution to a problem they’re having, they’re still in the research phase (also known as the Zero Moment of Truth).
For example, if you’re a Warehouse Manager who’s been tasked with looking at ways to improve productivity and efficiency in the workplace, you’ll probably search “how to increase productivity in warehouse” or “how to improve warehouse layout” in the research phase. You click on a blog that’s titled “9 Tips on Improving Warehouse Management” et voila! There’s a list of tips and tricks (all mentioning the software that site is selling) that will take you onto the next step. Researching different software vendors to find out which one is the best one for you – you do this via brand and product names, taking you to their landing page. You know what the software’s called, you just want to find out exactly how that specific supplier is going to benefit you and your business. When someone lands on a blog, they want more information (which is exactly what featured snippets give) – when they’re on a page, there’s a good chance they already know what they’re there for.
It’s easier to get a snippet by re-optimising existing content
Existing content has so much potential, and we found that we achieved multiple featured snippets for an existing piece of content, in comparison to putting brand new content out there (find out how to repurpose existing content to help your strategy). Strategies always need new content, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use what’s already there (especially if it helps us getting those snippets). We looked into Search Console to see what keywords were ranking between #1 – #10 and optimised the pages to include these keywords and amended them. We also found that correcting the grammar and sentence flow so that it read better. When we changed the approach of writing “for SEO” to a more human tone, the same blog ranked for numerous snippets. Alongside this, making sure that your h1 , h2 (or the section of the content your tailoring the featured snippet in) has the keywords that you’re trying to target will greatly increase your chances.
- We found that content we got snippets for had no more than two internal/external links for in the paragraph that the snippet was taken from.
- Copying (and tweaking) the snippet that your competitor has is a great way to get that snippet.
- Repurposing existing content increases chances of obtaining a snippet.
- Snippets may harm your click through rate and bounce rate.
- Tables and bullet point lists are also a really useful way to display data and achieve a snippet.
- You’ll still feel awesome if you get a snippet.
Alongside this, Emily Potter did a fab talk at BrightonSEO about Featured Snippets – check out her slides here.