We live in a day and age where everything is immediate – we can watch a movie from the comfort of our own home, we can order food to our door with a press of a button, and we can interact with friends and family who are scattered across the globe within a matter of seconds.
The younger generation are used to getting anything they need with immediate effect – and that can also be said when it comes to search engines too.
Anyone searching for a question-based query in Google can be guaranteed to be greeted with a featured snippet. What is a featured snippet I hear you ask, and why would I need to consider this for my website?
Well, with these amazing features recently revealed by Google, there are several reasons why you’ll want to be featured in this prime search engine space!
What are featured snippets?
For those unfamiliar with featured snippets, these primitive spots in the search engine are classed as ‘position 0’ listings, which appear for searches which contain question-based and informative-seeking keywords. For example, you can expect a result to look like this, when you search for anything information-based:
The idea behind featured snippets is to contain information that may benefit users who are looking for an answer to a question, and comes in handy when using voice search too.
So, what are the benefits of featured snippets?
Improved Traffic & CTR
When featured snippets were first introduced – way back in January 2014 – the expectation was that traffic to sites that were used for featured snippets would drop. Surely, if users were getting their answers straight from the search engine results page, they wouldn’t need to click through to the site, right?
Wrong! Click-through-rates and traffic have been proven to be significantly higher for those sites featured in that prime #0 spot, with users way more likely to click on a featured snippet when it is featured, rather than a regular organic listing.
As Google have now announced a ‘Mobile First’ approach to to their algorithm, mobile always needs to be considered when it comes to search. With the use of voice search rapidly growing, mobile phone users are now regularly using their virtual assistants to ask questions and seek assistance.
Google have identified that supplying mobile users with a list of search results to a voice command is irrelevant – hence the introduction of featured snippet based answers!
That’s right, if you’re asking Siri, Alexa, or even Cortana a question, in which they give you a fairly straightforward reply, you can assume that answer has come from a featured snippet related to your question. Think about it this way – if you’re searching a question using your desktop and receiving a featured snippet answer, using your voice assistant shouldn’t be any different!
What can we expect to see grow from featured snippets?
As Google continues to surprise us with changes to benefit users, we can expect to see some awesome developments to the way featured snippets work this year…
Video-Based Featured Snippets
Google’s latest launch saw videos being incorporated into relevant search queries. Providing users with the right content in the right moment of their search is important. Think about the search funnel, and how users are more specific once they reach that point of consumption – so ensuring that they are getting what they’re looking for in the right moment of their search certainly improves CTR to your site!
Working to Optimise Answers
Sometimes, featured snippets don’t actually aid with our searches. For example, Google may answer a question such as “how to play football” with an explanation about how offside is calculated – clearly, not what we were looking for.
To ensure all content is informative, correct, and not prejudice or offensive, Google have launched ‘Search Quality Rater Guidelines,’ providing detailed examples of poorly written or offensive featured snippets in order to avoid these entirely.
This addition will help Google to identify where misleading information is coming from and enable them to stop it from spreading and influencing the reader from digesting false information.
Google are also toying with the idea of adding in a ‘near-match’ feature. This consists of creating a ‘more results’ section underneath the primary featured snippet shown in #0. For example, if Google are showing the above example around offside football players, but aren’t 100% sure that this is the correct answer for users, they may incorporate this ‘more results’ feature to enable users to browse similar answers to their query, if they aren’t seeing the answer they want.
This one is currently in beta mode – so we may not see this rolled out if the testing comes back as a negative performer.
Showing multiple snippets
Another new feature for 2018 is the showing of multiple snippets. For example, when you’re looking to setup your voicemail account on your phone, this query could constitute multiple answers, based on your phone provider or device.
This way, through Google’s new introductory multiple snippets, users can select which provider they are with from within the original snippet in order to give them a new response based on their selection.
For example, if an iPhone user on EE is looking for how to set up their voicemail, and searches “how to set up my voicemail,” rather than just seeing the generic voicemail snippet, there will be an option underneath to select their phone provider (provided that EE provide an answer to this question.) Once they click on their provider, they will see a tailored response to their question.
That way, users are going to experience a higher quality content, with the page experiencing better traffic and click through rates to their pages – because Google is providing more optimised and specific answer to users questions.
In a similar way to the near-match snippets, another format showing multiple snippets is to be introduced. This design is set to help people gain better information by showing more than one snippet related to what they originally searched for.
The idea behind this is that this may help snippets with contradicting information – for example, topics with multiple opinions, such as “is football a good sport” – there is no right or wrong answer, but if Google can only show one answer (with current set-ups), how are they to portray multiple opinions? Hopefully this new introduction of multiple-snippets will help clear things up!
Five things to remember about featured snippets…
- Featured snippets experience higher CTR’s and traffic – aka, more people to your site!
- Providing users with knowledgeable and informative answers will help consumers see you as authoritative and a good source of information.
- Mobile is here – so being optimised for voice search through the use of featured snippets will be highly beneficial to your site.
- Offering multiple forms of content (videos, articles or knowledge graphs etc.) will educate users in the correct “moment” of the search funnel, and gives you the ability to rank for more featured snippet-types!
- Providing accurate and correct information on your site will give you more chance at ranking in that magic #0…