Many marketing professionals already incorporate featured snippets when creating SEO content. However, Google has new updates to featured snippets, affecting how the algorithm selects content and how it appears in SERPs. Here are things to keep in mind about featured snippets and their implications on SEO strategies.
Google's Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, also known as BERT, is a "neural network-based technique for natural language processing." In determining rankings, BERT helps algorithms decipher a page's relevance to audiences. As of December 9, 2019, Google has rolled it out for featured snippets and covers 70 languages. BERT enables Google to understand complex queries and deliver appropriate snippets that answer these.
Carousel snippets launched in 2018, offering users the ability to refine searches based on modifiers typically associated with their query. According to Moz, Google displays these bubble refinements for about 8.62 percent of queries. The modifiers are often in the form of locations, competitor names, and product features or attributes. These allow different URLs to own one featured snippet at the same time.
Recently, it also became possible to view featured snippets in the right sidebar of search results. These look like Knowledge Panels, the information boxes Google displays in search results for a famous person's name, a significant event, or other prominent keywords. In Google's January 2020 featured snippet de-duplication update, users will no longer get the right sidebar. The company announced that it's incorporating the sidebar snippets into the central panel of the SERPs.
Something new in Google Chrome is TargetText, which highlights a selected fragment with yellow. The highlighted sentences answer the user's original query. In late 2019, experts found that Google uses Featured Snippets in Google's TargetText feature and works even on content behind tabs.
Capturing featured snippets provide you with significant potential for organic visibility. According to Moz, 24% of search results display a featured snippet, but recent developments have added new things to consider when trying to earn these types of results. Starting January 2020, Google began de-duplicating results on its SERPs. Today, a URL that appears as a Featured Snippet will not appear in the organic results and vice versa. In the past, links could appear in both. Some search marketers think that this update will make earning featured snippets a waste of time. Instead, they might advise website owners to focus on earning a slot on the first page of results.
Marketers today might not prioritize Featured Snippets because, depending on the content, the query itself, or the search intent, the featured snippet might have a zero-click outcome. It could also register a significantly lower click-through rate compared to regular links. So, if you focus on getting a featured snippet when creating SEO content, you might lower the traffic to your website instead of raising it. In a 2018 study by Ahrefs, the company learned that when a featured snippet appears, only 8.6 percent of clicks go to it. When you combine that with the 19.6 percent click-through rate from a second listing, it could boost a company's traffic. Alone, though, the CTR from appearing in the featured snippet might not be enough.
Today, there is plenty of disinformation online. Google has been fighting against the proliferation of false information. The increasing importance of E-A-T or expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness reflects their efforts. It will be interesting to see if featured snippets would see changes because of these trends. Even before Google's thrust toward more media accountability, texts should have had to fulfill a unique set of requirements to appear in featured snippets. These excerpts cannot be sexually explicit, hateful, dangerous, violent, or otherwise promote harm.
Google can remove featured snippets if they violate these guidelines, and searchers can also report excerpts that violate policies. In all, writing for featured snippets follows the same guidelines for other kinds of content; concentrate on producing credible, authoritative information, and you won't see your information taken down.
Though there is no foolproof way of getting Google to pick up your text and make it into a featured snippet, there are several best practices you can implement to make it more likely. First, you should do keyword research and choose questions relevant to your audience. Ensure that the questions you pick have a high number of searches.
Search for the current featured snippet you are trying to target and observe how it responds to the question. Evaluate the formatting—does it use tables, paragraphs, and lists? Choose the best approach; each format lends itself best to a different purpose. For example, tables are best for questions that require complex comparisons to answer. Meanwhile, paragraphs work well for definitions, and lists are great for how-tos.
Try to improve on the current featured snippet; unless you provide something else, something more valuable, Google won't be likely to choose your response as a replacement. Check as well if your snippet is easy to read; the most successful articles online are ones that register a Flesch Reading Ease Score between 60 and 80. Also, it is vital to create entirely unique content. Do not copy and paste from your website or lift snippets from existing resources online. Also, answer different questions on one page, and use headers to break the information up into sections.
Keeping your sentences concise also helps, especially for "how-to" content, and using high-quality images and videos contribute to the website's relevance. Most importantly, keep refining your answer since Google changes its criteria for featured snippets regularly, so you always need to improve your answers.
A featured snippet is a great way of exhibiting your authoritativeness on a topic. If online audiences see your brand related to snippet responses, they will be more likely to go to you for answers. When you're creating SEO content to increase the chances of getting a snippet, make sure you research the best way to respond to people's questions, format your answers correctly, and keep monitoring your snippets for changes to make. When you do, you're sure to bolster your brand's reputation and longevity.
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