Friday, May 24, 2024

The Impact of Featured Snippets on SEO Services

The content of this research provides an in-depth analysis of the impact of ‘featured snippets’ on SEO services. Google’s featured snippets provide direct answers to people’s questions, and they are positioned above the top search result. This research will enable us to gain a better understanding of what featured snippets are, and how they will impact the digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) industries. This research is beneficial for us, as well as our clients, and also readers who are keen on finding leads in the digital marketing industry. Featured snippets can affect various industries, and we hope that this analysis will enable us to understand its effects on specific industries. In our case, this analysis is focused on the digital marketing and SEO industries, and more specifically, on Sotavento Medios, a digital marketing agency based in Singapore. SEO services are crucial for every single website nowadays, as businesses want to be able to connect with potential customers looking for their services online. The internet has gradually become a necessity in the lives of many people today, and it has proven to be a very useful source of information, providing answers to numerous questions. With Google’s featured snippets, users are now able to get answers to their questions more efficiently. However, it is reported that page one organic search results are getting lesser click-throughs, and this reduction in traffic can be attributed to featured snippets. This is because users are able to get the answers, they need from the featured snippet itself, without having to click on any search result. Given that there is only one featured snippet for each search result, the competition for featured snippet positions is bound to heat up in time to come.

What are featured snippets?

If you’re familiar with SEO, then featured snippets are not a strange term. A featured snippet is a summary of an answer to a user’s query, which is displayed on top of Google search results. It’s extracted from a webpage, and includes the page’s title and URL. The featured snippet block includes a link to the page, the page title and URL. This is an enhanced search result, and in most cases you can see that featured snippets contains more than the meta description. Featured snippets are the new way to become #1 on Google as they are on top of organic results, and according to a study by Ahrefs, 99.58% of featured pages already rank in the top 10 in organic search. Being in the top 10 results in on average a 20.6% click through rate. This percentage then increases the higher the position. Another advantage of a featured snippet is you can increase brand equity by establishing your company’s authority in a certain field. Your website in essence would be the go-to site for sought-out information. There are three different types of featured snippets. A paragraph, where the snippet is composed of a piece of writing extracted from the website. A list, where you would have to use <ol> or <ul> HTML tags. A table, where you would use HTML <table> tags. In order to have a featured snippet, it is important to optimize for the different types of markup. The first step in getting a featured snippet is to identify which keyword triggers a featured snippet at the search results page. This can be done manually by entering a keyword into the search bar and then seeing if a featured snippet is triggered. Alternatively, there are certain tools that can be used to identify this. Once the keywords are identified, you must look at the current search results to see if your website is ranking. This is done by linking the keyword in the search bar with in the Google search bar. This will show all indexed pages from your website which can be filtered by entering subfolders or changing to a specific date. If there is already a page that has a high organic ranking, it would be best to try and edit the content of this page.

Importance of SEO services

First and foremost, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the importance of featured snippets on SEO services, we must first comprehend what an SEO service is and what its purpose is. Search Engine Optimization or SEO, as it is more well-known, is the process of increasing the rankings of a particular website or web page in a search engine’s unpaid results. A page that appears more frequently in the search results list or gains a higher ranking will receive more visitors from a search engine’s users. SEO may or may not target different kinds of searches, including academic search, news search, video search, and industry-specific vertical search engines. SEO gives a website an internet marketing strategy by considering how search engines function, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines, and the preferred search engine by the targeted audience. An SEO service can actually make the difference between a website that is unknown and a website that is known by thousands of people every day. This is very important because the effectiveness of a message in close relation to what the people are trying to find can be better achieved if the website is easily accessed. Coming across featured snippets, an SEO service can have a profound result on how much traffic a particular website can receive.

Sotavento Medios: A digital marketing agency in Singapore

Sotavento Medios is a digital marketing agency for modern company needs. The company is based in Singapore. Because of mobility in today’s business, internet marketing plays a big role in reaching success. And this is what Sotavento is offering to companies. Their main expertise is Search Engine Marketing or SEM. SEM is always associated with searching on the internet using Google, for example. Here, Sotavento will help companies maximize the use of promoting their product on the internet by the result of search engine. And one way to do this is by using Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is a process of improving the result of searching something on the internet by making the search engine more friendly towards the product offered by the company.

Benefits of Featured Snippets for SEO Services

Featured snippets always hold the searcher at the first position of the page. According to a study done by MOZ, the average organic search CTR for a first position is around 20.5%. And with the new position zero, that same result will get additional traffic, and the no.1 position will attract traffic which is more than the sum traffic of position 2 and position 3. If you can get the featured snippet and also the first organic search result, you could be looking at a CTR close to 30% for that keyword. This could be a very efficient improvement for rankings. According to a study done by Authority Hacker on the CTR of various SERP features, it is seen that featured snippet has the highest CTR among all other SERP features. And because the snippet would always be visible above position 1, the traffic would only be increased. This would result in nearly double the traffic only from position zero. This is, of course, dependent on the type of the snippet, as the incremental CTR for a direct answer type snippet would be more than a list type or a table type snippet.

Featured snippets are the results that are displayed at the top of the organic search results. They are extracted from the web page contents and are displayed within a box, which is much easier to reference than the traditional search results format. These snippets always come before position 1. This means that if you can get a featured snippet result, your same result will be visible at both position 1 in the traditional search results and also as the featured snippet. This will definitely increase the click-through rate (CTR) of your search result. According to a study done by Ahrefs, getting a featured snippet has increased the total amount of clicks to the page done by the users on average by around 2 times. This could be a great opportunity for SEO service providers because increasing CTR from the same rankings would be equivalent to doubling the traffic of that keyword.

Increased visibility and organic traffic

The most coveted spot in the search engine rankings is, of course, position 1 on page 1. 46% of all clicks for a search go to the top three search positions. The reason why the first position is so valuable is simple: it gets the most visibility and click-throughs. With featured snippets, your website gains that coveted position if it meets the basic SEO criteria. The better the SEO, the better the snippet. Good snippets are not only featured, but also the first result below the features. This double-dipping in search results dramatically increases your website’s visibility and, in turn, your organic traffic. Featured snippets provide an ample opportunity for smaller websites to compete for the first time against larger websites on a more level playing field. A study conducted by Ahrefs showed that 99.58% of the websites that were able to win a featured snippet already held the first search result. This means that your website needs to be on page 1 to be featured. Due to the size constraints of a featured snippet, the snippet might only show a smaller portion of your content that is still highly relevant to the search. This allows smaller websites with a very specific and relevant topic to compete for a featured snippet against larger websites with a broader range of content on the same topic. Since most featured snippets simply reproduce a portion of the content from a link which provides the full content, the user who clicked on the snippet for the specific information is more likely to click the link in the snippet to find more information. This drives more traffic towards the specific content on smaller websites.

Establishing authority and credibility

An important point to mention about the impact on clicks is that a featured snippet is considered position 0, thus the website from which the snippet is drawn will also have an additional link that is positioned at or near the top of the search results. Essentially, this is representing two URLs from the same website appearing on the same search engine results page and would likely result in increased click rates for the website.

Credibility is a critical part of persuasive writing and credibility also helps establish a user’s trust in a website. The language or ideas presented in a featured snippet must be concise, accurate and clear. In the content from which the featured snippet is drawn, it would be beneficial to properly cite any sources of information in order to reinforce credibility. Ideally, the source of the featured snippet would be a factual article or blog post from a professional or reputable website with a strong authority on the topic. If the content itself is credible, it is likely that the content will at least maintain its current position in the search results page and it may even result in an enhanced ranking. According to an eye tracking study, the more confidence that a user has in the relevancy of a search result to their query, the more likely they are to scan and click that search result. The easier it is to read and understand the content within the snippet, the more likely a user is to click the source link and read more about the topic, resulting in increased traffic for the providing website.

The featured snippet variation that a user sees in the search results page depends on the type of question and the language used to frame the question. Google ignores different sorts of queries, including navigational search, information search, and transactional search. It has been observed that the featured snippet often appears for searches that are in the form of a question. Only around 2.3% of search queries resulted in a featured snippet and those search queries are highly competitive. Google’s search engine results page receives a high volume of traffic, which can be a significant advantage for a featured snippet providing website. If a high volume search query results in a featured snippet, then the website that contains the featured snippet will likely experience a substantial increase in traffic.

Improved user experience

The increased quality and detail in the snippets compared to the titles and brief descriptions in traditional search results could mean that users get their information faster and with fewer clicks. High-quality and relevant content featured in a snippet could mean the content will satisfy the user’s information need directly on the search results page, essentially taking away traffic from the website the content originated as the user will not need to visit the website to get the information they were looking for. This has a particularly large impact on content sites in weather, stocks, and reference information.

User behavior when the result is a definition type snippet is likely to be the same as traditional results for definitions. Often, the user is looking for quick and simple information and will choose to click to a website only if the information provided in the definition snippet is not detailed enough. Click-through rate from traditional results has long been known to be a function of how well the result satisfies the user’s information need.

This case is an example of where the snippet did exactly what it was designed to do, which is provide the information the user wants without requiring a user to click through to a website. Since click-through rate is an important measure of the value of a keyword’s ranking, changes in user behavior relative to clicks on search results will have significant implications on traffic to the website the snippet originated from.

Snippet results can be interesting, but the improved listings may have implications on user behavior. This could result in a change in what the masses consider to be the “traditional ten blue links” search results page. Here’s an example of a query for “famous women UK”: the snippet is quite large and detailed, and the user may find that they trust the information in the snippet and do not need to look any further. This is taking away traffic from the website that the information originated from.

Strategies to Optimize for Featured Snippets

Featured snippets often take search conversions away from the websites that have “won” the snippet. There is some evidence that winning the featured snippet will result in an increased click-through rate, but often the click goes to Google itself and not the website that has provided the content. Dr. Pete Meyers from Moz reports on the “no-click” search where about one third of Google searches end with the user clicking on no search results. Featured snippets are part of the reason for this as the answer to the query is provided on the search page, leaving no need for the user to click on any results. Websites may not be happy about losing search conversions to Google, but the increased exposure from having the snippet may lead to a higher brand authority and more trust from the user. Some of the results from having a featured snippet will not be easy to quantify but will likely aid the website in the long run.

Identifying relevant keywords

Keywords that trigger featured snippets are identified where there is a lack of a concise answer for a specific query. When searching your identified keyword(s), look for SERPs that have a featured snippet by using tools like Mozcast or the Ahrefs SERP feature. If the results return a featured snippet, and that snippet is a clear and concise answer aimed towards solving a user query, there is a high chance your identified keyword has a good potential in triggering a featured snippet. Using the “site:” operator on Google can also allow you to see if any pages on your site have already triggered a featured snippet. This can be done by typing “site: keyword” into the search bar and reviewing the results. If there are any featured snippets triggered for keyword queries on your site, it means your content has already been assessed by Google and has a chance of revisiting position 0 if any updates are made to the content for that specific query.

Crafting concise and informative content

A definitive way to gauge how you are doing with your content’s chances of getting into the snippet box is to simply go ahead and try it for yourself. If you have several articles or blog posts on the same topic, go to Google and search for the keywords associated with your topic. If your site isn’t already appearing on the first page of the search results, there is no chance of the content coming up in the snippet box. Even if you are on the first page of the results, to further increase your chances, go ahead and tweak the site’s meta description to a 150-character or less brief summary of the content of the page. Going back to the point form method, this is a great way to summarize what you have said, ideally in hopes of getting your snippet to take the place of the meta description under your site right in the results.

The most important thing to do when trying to get your content in the snippet box is to write in a concise manner. If you aren’t already, think about outlining the information you are writing about. Whether you are trying to be informative or in-depth with your content, the best way to get your information across in the quickest way possible is to present it in point form, while still making complete sentences, of course. This allows the reader to have their questions answered right away and increases the chances of your content being used in the snippet box to answer other online users’ questions. Although the point form idea is the easiest way to get your information across, it may not be the best for certain content types. So if you’re trying to answer a question you know you are able to answer in point form, try it out and see how it goes.

Structuring content for featured snippet formats

Paragraph featured snippets usually are an answer to a question or a definition of something. The content that appears in a paragraph is usually a clear and concise answer to a question. So when you are crafting a paragraph snippet you need to make sure that your paragraph directly answers a question and there is no filler content before or after it. It is also good practice to use heading tags that pose the question and have the answer directly underneath it. This makes it easier for Google to link the snippet with the content on your page. Lists that are displayed as snippets are usually points that answer a question or are steps in how to do something. If you are looking to get a list snippet, put your list in point form and make sure it is directly answering a question or a how to question. Table snippets are usually snippets that compare data and the best way to get a table snippet is to have a table on your page that compares specific data. Usually this type of content would already be ranking well as it is more detailed and difficult for Google to extract high level information from.

Featured snippets generally display content that is extracted from a page that ranks in the top. The content that these featured snippets contain is either a paragraph, a list or a table. Usually these snippets are generated based on an exact-match query to the question. For example, the keyword “how to boil an egg” will return a featured snippet and content on how to boil an egg. A study published by Ahrefs shows that 99.58% of featured snippets are from content that already ranks in the first page of SERP. This means that the chances of your content being selected as a featured snippet greatly increases if your content is already on the first page. So it is important that you consider structuring your content in a way where it is easier for Google to extract specific information and display it as a snippet.

Leveraging structured data markup

Article is good for knowing how to get success in making a featured snippet for a website. With a good choice of keywords and informative text, the next thing you can do is structure your content with structured data markup. This is a tag that will help search engines understand the content of your page. There are many types of structured data that you can choose to apply to your content. If you want to make a list featured snippet, you can use type Article or type Event. If you want to make a table featured snippet, you can use type Course or type Movie, and many more. There is also guidance in making featured snippets on the Google Developers page. The structured data that you have already applied will help search engines understand what the content of your page is. Even when your page is not selected as an official featured snippet, your page can still be used as a reference in the featured snippet block when someone clicks “search more.” So make sure you apply structured data to your content in the best way possible.

Challenges and Considerations in Featured Snippet Optimization

Attempting to earn a featured snippet may require changes between a simple Q&A section, a bulleted list, or a table that differentiates between the usual 10 organic listings and featured snippet results. For example, ranking for a featured snippet may not equate to rankings 1-10. A study by Ahrefs concluded that the page with a featured snippet will rank on average 5-9 but CTRs can drop up to 37% if the featured snippet is lost. Although featured snippets are a great way to increase visibility, it may not always top organic listings in terms of the most clickable headline. This scenario leads to the following point that must be considered when optimizing for featured snippets. Remember you should generate text only for section “4. Challenges and Considerations in Featured Snippet Optimization”.

Competition and varying search intent

Even if a snippet successfully gives the needed information, it is potential that because the extent of the information is so concise, a user will not be convinced that the query has been fully addressed and end up clicking on the URL link for more information. This is still a success in getting traffic to the site, but stats show that viewers who first click on a web search are mostly likely to try and find information with an altered search and click on the site of a different URL rather than clicking the back button and revisiting the original site.

Popular search queries often have different interpretations or various things that the user is looking for. An example of this is the phrase “Final Fantasy.” It could be defined as an abstract idea of human imagination, the popular movie franchise, or the video game series. Depending on the intended search, the user will receive dissimilar results. The same issue applies to whether a user wants a featured snippet to quickly answer a question or a video to more thoroughly understand the topic. Featured snippets generally take an informative form. Videos often are instructional. If the snippet is for a definition query, and the intent is to better understand the term, a user would be more satisfied with a video. Depending on the complexity of the query, search results are comprised of various combinations of these interpreted contents. SEOs know that no matter how high the rank of a snippet URL, it will not receive the snippet if the content does not match the query’s intent. Attempting to gauge the exact type of information that is necessary to attain the query is yet an additional variable that further complicates the competition of FS optimization.

Balancing between featured snippets and click-through rates

In instances where a particular snippet is having a substantial effect on the CTR of the page with the snippet and the content is similar to that of the query’s intent, it is worthwhile optimizing the content to try and acquire the snippet. This may seem redundant if you already have the first ranking organic result, but Canada’s SEO agency says that they have seen cases where a URL that had the featured snippet and the first rank organic result had its snippet replace the one that the organic first result was getting. In these cases, switching the content that you are trying to rank with the snippet and the first organic result can sometimes be an effective tactic.

According to Ahrefs data, acquiring the featured snippet only changes the click-through rate (CTR) of the page with the snippet 8.6 percent of the time. However, the benefit is often far greater. Tim Soulo, Ahrefs’ CMO, has said that even if the CTR of the snippet and the URL from which it was sourced stay the same, this is still a win. He says this is because people are more likely to remember the brand that was behind the snippet and visit the site next time they are looking for information. The snippet therefore acts as a branding device and one that is highly efficient; given that 12.29 percent of search queries have featured snippets, pursuit of the snippet could be a very good branding strategy for many websites. Brand awareness and authority can result in higher conversion rates at the bottom of the sales funnel, and repeat visits from users who now have increased trust in the brand.

When it comes to understanding the implications of using featured snippets, it is important to appreciate the trade-off between gaining traffic through clicks to your website and branding from being known as the ‘source of information’. On one hand, featured snippets can siphon traffic away from the first organic search result, and this can be a problem if it results in a substantial loss of traffic on that page.

Monitoring and adapting to algorithm changes

The aforementioned table format change was not a net positive in terms of traffic to the site I was examining. This content overlapped with featured snippets for several queries, which netted high CTR loss and only minimal traffic change from the snippets themselves. It is evident that in some cases, the best course of action may actually be to de-optimize content for featured snippets. Unfortunately Google does not provide AMP specifically for featured snippets right now, but that is another potential option worth exploring. AMP’d content shows suitability for featured snippet result, but may not encounter the same level of content competition as non-paraphrased queries. Ultimately the decision to pursue featured snippet optimization or to in a sense, “back off”, will depend on changes in capturing featured snippet results and the net benefit of its traffic.

If the prevalence of featured snippets in your target queries is rapidly increasing, it may indicate a need to optimize more heavily for this content. Featured snippet competition is often overlooked. Given that these are the new first results for many queries, it’s safe to assume that they are now the most important keywords to rank for. An analysis of HubSpot’s homepage ranking URLs showed that many were not the URLs of the pages the meta descriptions were pulled from. This indicates that Google’s criteria for choosing featured snippet content is not always to pull the meta description from the #1 ranked page. Consider the query and likelihood that viewers will click through to a more in-depth result.

With the present and future state of featured snippets in mind, it is important to monitor its prevalence in your target queries. Track whether or not the queries important to your site are displaying featured snippets. Be wary of Google’s burgeoning tendency to test featured snippets in varied formats that may be pulled from different sources. An example of this is Glenn Gabe’s case study on a query whose featured snippet format evolved from a paragraph to a table. This change has since been replicated in some of my own case studies. Whether or not Google will be pulling from a different source seems to be implied by the existence of the “sourcing” URL in STAT’s featured snippet reports. Although this is an undocumented feature of STAT’s tools right now, it is something to be mindful of in the future.