Tag Archive | "Featured"

The Influence of Voice Search on Featured Snippets

Posted by TheMozTeam

This post was originally published on the STAT blog.


We all know that featured snippets provide easy-to-read, authoritative answers and that digital assistants love to say them out loud when asked questions.

This means that featured snippets have an impact on voice search — bad snippets, or no snippets at all, and digital assistants struggle. By that logic: Create a lot of awesome snippets and win the voice search race. Right?

Right, but there’s actually a far more interesting angle to examine — one that will help you nab more snippets and optimize for voice search at the same time. In order to explore this, we need to make like Doctor Who and go back in time.

From typing to talking

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and queries were typed into search engines via keyboards, people adapted to search engines by adjusting how they performed queries. We pulled out unnecessary words and phrases, like “the,” “of,” and, well, “and,” which created truncated requests — robotic-sounding searches for a robotic search engine.

The first ever dinosaur to use Google.

Of course, as search engines have evolved, so too has their ability to understand natural language patterns and the intent behind queries. Google’s 2013 Hummingbird update helped pave the way for such evolution. This algorithm rejigging allowed Google’s search engine to better understand the whole of a query, moving it away from keyword matching to conversation having.

This is good news if you’re a human person: We have a harder time changing the way we speak than the way we write. It’s even greater news for digital assistants, because voice search only works if search engines can interpret human speech and engage in chitchat.

Digital assistants and machine learning

By looking at how digital assistants do their voice search thing (what we say versus what they search), we can see just how far machine learning has come with natural language processing and how far it still has to go (robots, they’re just like us!). We can also get a sense of the kinds of queries we need to be tracking if voice search is on the SEO agenda.

For example, when we asked our Google Assistant, “What are the best headphones for $ 100,” it queried [best headphones for $ 100]. We followed that by asking, “What about wireless,” and it searched [best wireless headphones for $ 100]. And then we remembered that we’re in Canada, so we followed that with, “I meant $ 100 Canadian,” and it performed a search for [best wireless headphones for $ 100 Canadian].

We can learn two things from this successful tête-à-tête: Not only does our Google Assistant manage to construct mostly full-sentence queries out of our mostly full-sentence asks, but it’s able to accurately link together topical queries. Despite us dropping our subject altogether by the end, Google Assistant still knows what we’re talking about.

Of course, we’re not above pointing out the fumbles. In the string of: “How to bake a Bundt cake,” “What kind of pan does it take,” and then “How much do those cost,” the actual query Google Assistant searched for the last question was [how much does bundt cake cost].

Just after we finished praising our Assistant for being able to maintain the same subject all the way through our inquiry, we needed it to be able to switch tracks. And it couldn’t. It associated the “those” with our initial Bundt cake subject instead of the most recent noun mentioned (Bundt cake pans).

In another important line of questioning about Bundt cake-baking, “How long will it take” produced the query [how long does it take to take a Bundt cake], while “How long does that take” produced [how long does a Bundt cake take to bake].

They’re the same ask, but our Google Assistant had a harder time parsing which definition of “take” our first sentence was using, spitting out a rather awkward query. Unless we really did want to know how long it’s going to take us to run off with someone’s freshly baked Bundt cake? (Don’t judge us.)

Since Google is likely paying out the wazoo to up the machine learning ante, we expect there to be less awkward failures over time. Which is a good thing, because when we asked about Bundt cake ingredients (“Does it take butter”) we found ourselves looking at a SERP for [how do I bake a butter].

Not that that doesn’t sound delicious.

Snippets are appearing for different kinds of queries

So, what are we to make of all of this? That we’re essentially in the midst of a natural language renaissance. And that voice search is helping spearhead the charge.

As for what this means for snippets specifically? They’re going to have to show up for human speak-type queries. And wouldn’t you know it, Google is already moving forward with this strategy, and not simply creating more snippets for the same types of queries. We’ve even got proof.

Over the last two years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of words in a query that surfaces a featured snippet. Long-tail queries may be a nuisance and a half, but snippet-having queries are getting longer by the minute.

When we bucket and weight the terms found in those long-tail queries by TF-IDF, we get further proof of voice search’s sway over snippets. The term “how” appears more than any other word and is followed closely by “does,” “to,” “much,” “what,” and “is” — all words that typically compose full sentences and are easier to remove from our typed searches than our spoken ones.

This means that if we want to snag more snippets and help searchers using digital assistants, we need to build out long-tail, natural-sounding keyword lists to track and optimize for.

Format your snippet content to match

When it’s finally time to optimize, one of the best ways to get your content into the ears of a searcher is through the right snippet formatting, which is a lesson we can learn from Google.

Taking our TF-IDF-weighted terms, we found that the words “best” and “how to” brought in the most list snippets of the bunch. We certainly don’t have to think too hard about why Google decided they benefit from list formatting — it provides a quick comparative snapshot or a handy step-by-step.

From this, we may be inclined to format all of our “best” and “how to” keyword content into lists. But, as you can see in the chart above, paragraphs and tables are still appearing here, and we could be leaving snippets on the table by ignoring them. If we have time, we’ll dig into which keywords those formats are a better fit for and why.

Get tracking

You could be the Wonder Woman of meta descriptions, but if you aren’t optimizing for the right kind of snippets, then your content’s going to have a harder time getting heard. Building out a voice search-friendly keyword list to track is the first step to lassoing those snippets.

Want to learn how you can do that in STAT? Say hello and request a tailored demo.

Need more snippets in your life? We dug into Google’s double-snippet SERPs for you — double the snippets, double the fun.

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We Dipped Our Toes Into Double Featured Snippets

Posted by TheMozTeam

This post was originally published on the STAT blog.


Featured snippets, a vehicle for voice search and the answers to our most pressing questions, have doubled on the SERPs — but not in the way we usually mean. This time, instead of appearing on two times the number of SERPS, two snippets are appearing on the same SERP. Hoo!

In all our years of obsessively stalking snippets, this is one of the first documented cases of them doing something a little different. And we are here for it.

While it’s still early days for the double-snippet SERP, we’re giving you everything we’ve got so far. And the bottom line is this: double the snippets mean double the opportunity.

Google’s case for double-snippet SERPs

The first time we heard mention of more than one snippet per SERP was at the end of January in Google’s “reintroduction” to featured snippets.

Not yet launched, details on the feature were a little sparse. We learned that they’re “to help people better locate information” and “may also eventually help in cases where you can get contradictory information when asking about the same thing but in different ways.”

Thankfully, we only had to wait a month before Google released them into the wild and gave us a little more insight into their purpose.

Calling them “multifaceted” featured snippets (a definition we’re not entirely sure we’re down with), Google explained that they’re currently serving “‘multi-intent’ queries, which are queries that have several potential intentions or purposes associated,” and will eventually expand to queries that need more than one piece of information to answer.

With that knowledge in our back pocket, let’s get to the good stuff.

The double snippet rollout is starting off small

Since the US-en market is Google’s favorite testing ground for new features and the largest locale being tracked in STAT, it made sense to focus our research there. We chose to analyze mobile SERPs over desktop because of Google’s (finally released) mobile-first indexing, and also because that’s where Google told us they were starting.

After waiting for enough two-snippet SERPs to show up so we could get our (proper) analysis on, we pulled our data at the end March. Out of the mobile keywords currently tracking in the US-en market in STAT, 122,501 had a featured snippet present, and of those, 1.06 percent had more than one to its name.

With only 1,299 double-snippet SERPs to analyze, we admit that our sample size is smaller than our big data nerd selves would like. That said, it is indicative of how petite this release currently is.

Two snippets appear for noun-heavy queries

Our first order of business was to see what kind of keywords two snippets were appearing for. If we can zero in on what Google might deem “multi-intent,” then we can optimize accordingly.

By weighting our double-snippet keywords by tf-idf, we found that nouns such as “insurance,” “computer,” “job,” and “surgery” were the primary triggers — like in [general liability insurance policy] and [spinal stenosis surgery].

It’s important to note that we don’t see this mirrored in single-snippet SERPs. When we refreshed our snippet research in November 2017, we saw that snippets appeared most often for “how,” followed closely by “does,” “to,” “what,” and “is.” These are all words that typically compose full sentence questions.

Essentially, without those interrogative words, Google is left to guess what the actual question is. Take our [general liability insurance policy]keyword as an example — does the searcher want to know what a general liability insurance policy is or how to get one?

Because of how vague the query is, it’s likely the searcher wants to know everything they can about the topic. And so, instead of having to pick, Google’s finally caught onto the wisdom of the Old El Paso taco girl — why not have both?

Better leapfrogging and double duty domains

Next, we wanted to know where you’d need to rank in order to win one (or both) of the snippets on this new SERP. This is what we typically call “source position.”

On a single-snippet SERP and ignoring any SERP features, Google pulls from the first organic rank 31 percent of the time. On double-snippet SERPs, the top snippet pulls from the first organic rank 24.84 percent of the time, and the bottom pulls from organic ranks 5–10 more often than solo snippets.

What this means is that you can leapfrog more competitors in a double-snippet situation than when just one is in play.

And when we dug into who’s answering all these questions, we discovered that 5.70 percent of our double-snippet SERPs had the same domain in both snippets. This begs the obvious question: is your content ready to do double duty?

Snippet headers provide clarity and keyword ideas

In what feels like the first new addition to the feature in a long time, there’s now a header on top of each snippet, which states the question it’s set out to answer. With reports of headers on solo snippets (and “People also search for” boxes attached to the bottom — will this madness never end?!), this may be a sneak peek at the new norm.

Instead of relying on guesses alone, we can turn to these headers for what a searcher is likely looking for — we’ll trust in Google’s excellent consumer research. Using our [general liability insurance policy] example once more, Google points us to “what is general liabilities insurance” and “what does a business insurance policy cover” as good interpretations.

Because these headers effectively turn ambiguous statements into clear questions, we weren’t surprised to see words like “how” and “what” appear in more than 80 percent of them. This trend falls in line with keywords that typically produce snippets, which we touched on earlier.

So, not only does a second snippet mean double the goodness that you usually get with just one, it also means more insight into intent and another keyword to track and optimize for.

Both snippets prefer paragraph formatting

Next, it was time to give formatting a look-see to determine whether the snippets appearing in twos behave any differently than their solo counterparts. To do that, we gathered every snippet on our double-snippet SERPs and compared them against our November 2017 data, back when pairs weren’t a thing.

While Google’s order of preference is the same for both — paragraphs, lists, and then tables — paragraph formatting was the clear favorite on our two-snippet SERPs.

It follows, then, that the most common pairing of snippets was paragraph-paragraph — this appeared on 85.68 percent of our SERPs. The least common, at 0.31 percent, was the table-table coupling.

We can give two reasons for this behavior. One, if a query can have multiple interpretations, it makes sense that a paragraph answer would provide the necessary space to explain each of them, and two, Google really doesn’t like tables.

We saw double-snippet testing in action

When looking at the total number of snippets we had on hand, we realised that the only way everything added up was if a few SERPs had more than two snippets. And lo! Eleven of our keywords returned anywhere from six to 12 snippets.

For a hot minute we were concerned that Google was planning a full-SERP snippet takeover, but when we searched those keywords a few days later, we discovered that we’d caught testing in action.

Here’s what we saw play out for the keyword [severe lower back pain]:

After testing six variations, Google decided to stick with the first two snippets. Whether this is a matter of top-of-the-SERP results getting the most engagement no matter what, or the phrasing of these questions resonating with searchers the most, is hard for us to tell.

The multiple snippets appearing for [full-time employment] left us scratching our head a bit:

Our best hypothesis is that searchers in Florida, NYS, Minnesota, and Oregon have more questions about full-time employment than other places. But, since we’d performed a nation-wide search, Google seems to have thought better of including location-specific snippets.

Share your double-snippet SERP experiences

It goes without saying — but here we are saying it anyway — that we’ll be keeping an eye on the scope of this release and will report back on any new revelations.

In the meantime, we’re keen to know what you’re seeing. Have you had any double-snippet SERPs yet? Were they in a market outside the US? What keywords were surfacing them? 

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Exploring Google’s New Carousel Featured Snippet

Posted by TheMozTeam

Google let it be known earlier this year that snippets were a-changin’. And true to their word, we’ve seen them make two major updates to the feature — all in an attempt to answer more of your questions.

We first took you on a deep dive of double featured snippets, and now we’re taking you for a ride on the carousel snippet. We’ll explore how it behaves in the wild and which of its snippets you can win.

For your safety, please remain seated and keep your hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the vehicle at all times!

What a carousel snippet is an how it works

This particular snippet holds the answers to many different questions and, as the name suggests, employs carousel-like behaviour in order to surface them all.

When you click one of the “IQ-bubbles” that run along the bottom of the snippet, JavaScript takes over and replaces the initial “parent” snippet with one that answers a brand new query. This query is a combination of your original search term and the text of the IQ-bubble.

So, if you searched [savings account rates] and clicked the “capital one” IQ-bubble, you’d be looking at a snippet for “savings account rates capital one.” That said, 72.06 percent of the time, natural language processing will step in here and produce something more sensible, like “capital one savings account rates.”

On the new snippet, the IQ-bubbles sit at the top, making room for the “Search for” link at the bottom. The link is the bubble snippet’s query and, when clicked, becomes the search query of a whole new SERP — a bit of fun borrowed from the “People also ask” box.

You can blame the ludicrous “IQ-bubble” name on Google — it’s the class tag they gave on HTML SERP. We have heard them referred to as “refinement” bubbles or “related search” bubbles, but we don’t like either because we’ve seen them do both refine and relate. IQ-bubble it is.

There are now 6 times the number of snippets on a SERP

Back in April, we sifted through every SERP in STAT to see just how large the initial carousel rollout was. Turns out, it made a decent-sized first impression.

Appearing only in America, we discovered 40,977 desktop and mobile SERPs with carousel snippets, which makes up a hair over 9 percent of the US-en market. When we peeked again at the beginning of August, carousel snippets had grown by half but still had yet to reach non-US markets.

Since one IQ-bubble equals one snippet, we deemed it essential to count every single bubble we saw. All told, there were a dizzying 224,508 IQ-bubbles on our SERPs. This means that 41,000 keywords managed to produce over 220,000 extra featured snippets. We’ll give you a minute to pick your jaw up off the floor.

The lowest and most common number of bubbles we saw on a carousel snippet was three, and the highest was 10. The average number of bubbles per carousel snippet was 5.48 — an IQ of five if you round to the nearest whole bubble (they’re not that smart).

Depending on whether you’re a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty kind of person, this either makes for a lot of opportunity or a lot of competition, right at the top of the SERP.

Most bubble-snippet URLs are nowhere else on the SERP

When we’ve looked at “normal” snippets in the past, we’ve always been able to find the organic results that they’ve been sourced from. This wasn’t the case with carousel snippets — we could only find 10.76 percent of IQ-bubble URLs on the 100-result SERP. This left 89.24 percent unaccounted for, which is a metric heck-tonne of new results to contend with.

Concerned about the potential competitor implications of this, we decided to take a gander at ownership at the domain level.

Turns out things weren’t so bad. 63.05 percent of bubble snippets had come from sites that were already competing on the SERP — Google was just serving more varied content from them. It does mean, though, that there was a brand new competitor jumping onto the SERP 36.95 percent of the time. Which isn’t great.

Just remember: these new pages or competitors aren’t there to answer the original search query. Sometimes you’ll be able to expand your content in order to tackle those new topics and snag a bubble snippet, and sometimes they’ll be beyond your reach.

So, when IQ-bubble snippets do bother to source from the same SERP, what ranks do they prefer? Here we saw another big departure from what we’re used to.

Normally, 97.88 percent of snippets source from the first page, and 29.90 percent typically pull from rank three alone. With bubble snippets, only 36.58 percent of their URLs came from the top 10 ranks. And while the most popular rank position that bubble snippets pulled from was on the first page (also rank three), just under five percent of them did this.

We could apply the always helpful “just rank higher” rule here, but there appears to be plenty of exceptions to it. A top 10 spot just isn’t as essential to landing a bubble snippet as it is for a regular snippet.

We think this is due to relevancy: Because bubble snippet queries only relate to the original search term — they’re not attempting to answer it directly — it makes sense that their organic URLs wouldn’t rank particularly high on the SERP.

Multi-answer ownership is possible

Next we asked ourselves, can you own more than one answer on a carousel snippet? And the answer was a resounding: you most definitely can.

First we discovered that you can own both the parent snippet and a bubble snippet. We saw this occur on 16.71 percent of our carousel snippets.

Then we found that owning multiple bubbles is also a thing that can happen. Just over half (57.37 percent) of our carousel snippets had two or more IQ-bubbles that sourced from the same domain. And as many as 2.62 percent had a domain that owned every bubble present — and most of those were 10-bubble snippets!

Folks, it’s even possible for a single URL to own more than one IQ-bubble snippet, and it’s less rare than we’d have thought — 4.74 percent of bubble snippets in a carousel share a URL with a neighboring bubble.

This begs the same obvious question that finding two snippets on the SERP did: Is your content ready to pull multi-snippet duty?

“Search for” links don’t tend to surface the same snippet on the new SERP

Since bubble snippets are technically providing answers to questions different from the original search term, we looked into what shows up when the bubble query is the keyword being searched.

Specifically, we wanted to see if, when we click the “Search for” link in a bubble snippet, the subsequent SERP 1) had a featured snippet and 2) had a featured snippet that matched the bubble snippet from whence it came.

To do this, we re-tracked our 40,977 SERPs and then tracked their 224,508 bubble “Search for” terms to ensure everything was happening at the same time.

The answers to our two pressing questions were thus:

  1. Strange, but true, even though the bubble query was snippet-worthy on the first, related SERP, it wasn’t always snippet-worthy on its own SERP. 18.72 percent of “Search for” links didn’t produce a featured snippet on the new SERP.
  2. Stranger still, 78.11 percent of the time, the bubble snippet and its snippet on the subsequent SERP weren’t a match — Google surfaced two different answers for the same question. In fact, the bubble URL only showed up in the top 20 results on the new SERP 31.68 percent of the time.

If we’re being honest, we’re not exactly sure what to make of all this. If you own the bubble snippet but not the snippet on the subsequent SERP, you’re clearly on Google’s radar for that keyword — but does that mean you’re next in line for full snippet status?

And if the roles are reversed, you own the snippet for the keyword outright but not when it’s in a bubble, is your snippet in jeopardy? Let us know what you think!

Paragraph and list formatting reign supreme (still!)

Last, and somewhat least, we took a look at the shape all these snippets were turning up in.

When it comes to the parent snippet, Heavens to Betsy if we weren’t surprised. For the first time ever, we saw an almost even split between paragraph and list formatting. Bubble snippets, on the other hand, went on to match the trend we’re used to seeing in regular ol’ snippets:

We also discovered that bubble snippets aren’t beholden to one type of formatting even in their carousel. 32.21 percent of our carousel snippets did return bubbles with one format, but 59.71 percent had two and 8.09 percent had all three. This tells us that it’s best to pick the most natural format for your content.

Get cracking with carousel snippet tracking

If you can’t wait to get your mittens on carousel snippets, we track them in STAT, so you’ll know every keyword they appear for and have every URL housed within.

If you’d like to learn more about SERP feature tracking and strategizing, say hello and request a demo!


This article was originally published on the STAT blog on September 13, 2018.

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Google featured snippets can now jump to section of content it is sourcing

For those that get a lot of traffic to their AMP pages and show up in the featured snippets section, you may want to watch your metrics closely.



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SearchCap: It’s all about Google today–political ad transparency report, local packs, featured snippets launched & more

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.



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Monitoring Featured Snippets – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by BritneyMuller

We’ve covered finding featured snippet opportunities. We’ve covered the process of targeting featured snippets you want to win. Now it’s time for the third and final piece of the puzzle: how to monitor and measure the effectiveness of all your efforts thus far. In this episode of Whiteboard Friday, Britney shares three pro tips on how to make sure your featured snippet strategy is working.

Monitoring featured snippets

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we are going over part three of our three-part series all about featured snippets. So part one was about how to discover those featured snippet opportunities, part two was about how to target those, and this final one is how to properly monitor and measure the effectiveness of your targeting.

So we’ll jump right in. So there are a couple different steps and things you can do to go through this.

I. Manually resubmit URL and check SERP in incognito

First is just to manually resubmit a URL after you have tweaked that page to target that featured snippet. Super easy to do. All you do is go to Google and you type in “add URL to Google.” You will see a box pop up where you can submit that URL. You can also go through Search Console and submit it manually there. But this just sort of helps Google to crawl it a little faster and hopefully get it reprioritized to, potentially, a featured snippet.

From there, you can start to check for the keyword in an incognito window. So, in Chrome, you go to File > New Incognito. It tends to be a little bit more unbiased than your regular browser page when you’re doing a search. So this way, you’d start to get an idea of whether or not you’re moving up in that search result. So this can be anywhere from, I kid you not, a couple of minutes to months.

So Google tends to test different featured snippets over a long period of time, but occasionally I’ve had experience and I know a lot of you watching have had different experiences where you submit that URL to Google and boom — you’re in that featured snippet. So it really just depends, but you can keep an eye on things this way.


II. Track rankings for target keyword and Search Console data!

But you also want to keep in mind that you want to start also tracking for rankings for your target keyword as well as Search Console data. So what does that click-through rate look like? How are the impressions? Is there an upward trend in you trying to target that snippet?

So, in my test set, I have seen an average of around 80% increase in those keywords, just in rankings alone. So that’s a good sign that we’re improving these pages and hopefully helping to get us more featured snippets.

III. Check for other featured snippets

Then this last kind of pro tip here is to check for other instances of featured snippets. This is a really fun thing to do. So if you do just a basic search for “what are title tags,” you’re going to see Moz in the featured snippet. Then if you do “what are title tags” and then you do a -site:Moz.com, you’re going to see another featured snippet that Google is pulling is from a different page, that is not on Moz.com. So really interesting to sort of evaluate the types of content that they are testing and pulling for featured snippets.

Another trick that you can do is to append this ampersand, &num=1, &num=2 and so forth. What this is doing is you put this at the end of your Google URL for a search. So, typically, you do a search for “what are title tags,” and you’re going to see Google.com/search/? that typical markup. You can do a close-up on this, and then you’re just going to append it to pull in only three results, only two results, only four results, or else you can go longer and you can see if Google is pulling different featured snippets from that different quota of results. It’s really, really interesting, and you start to see what they’re testing and all that great stuff. So definitely play around with these two hacks right here.

Then lastly, you really just want to set the frequency of your monitoring to meet your needs. So hopefully, you have all of this information in a spreadsheet somewhere. You might have the keywords that you’re targeting as well as are they successful yet, yes or no. What’s the position? Is that going up or down?

Then you can start to prioritize. If you’re doing hundreds, you’re trying to target hundreds of featured snippets, maybe you check the really, really important ones once a week. Some of the others maybe are monthly checks.

From there, you really just need to keep track of, “Okay, well, what did I do to make that change? What was the improvement to that page to get it in the featured snippet?” That’s where you also want to keep detailed notes on what’s working for you and in your space and what’s not.

So I hope this helps. I look forward to hearing all of your featured snippet targeting stories. I’ve gotten some really awesome emails and look forward to hearing more about your journey down below in the comments. Feel free to ask me any questions and I look forward to seeing you on our next edition of Whiteboard Friday. Thanks.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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How to Target Featured Snippet Opportunities – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by BritneyMuller

Once you’ve identified where the opportunity to nab a featured snippet lies, how do you go about targeting it? Part One of our “Featured Snippet Opportunities” series focused on how to discover places where you may be able to win a snippet, but today we’re focusing on how to actually make changes that’ll help you do that. Give a warm, Mozzy welcome to Britney as she shares pro tips and examples of how we’ve been able to snag our own snippets using her methodology.

Target featured snippet opportunities

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Video Transcription

Today, we are going over targeting featured snippets, Part 2 of our featured snippets series. Super excited to dive into this.

What’s a featured snippet?

For those of you that need a little brush-up, what’s a featured snippet? Let’s say you do a search for something like, “Are pigs smarter than dogs?” You’re going to see an answer box that says, “Pigs outperform three-year old human children on cognitive tests and are smarter than any domestic animal. Animal experts consider them more trainable than cats or dogs.” How cool is that? But you’ll likely see these answer boxes for all sorts of things. So something to sort of keep an eye on. How do you become a part of that featured snippet box? How do you target those opportunities?

Last time, we talked about finding keywords that you rank on page one for that also have a featured snippet. There are a couple ways to do that. We talk about it in the first video. Something I do want to mention, in doing some of that the last couple weeks, is that Ahrefs actually has some of the capabilities to do that all for you. I had no idea that was possible. Really cool, go check them out. If you don’t have Ahrefs and maybe you have Moz or SEMrush, don’t worry, you can do the same sort of thing with a Vlookup.

So I know this looks a little crazy for those of you that aren’t familiar. Super easy. It basically allows you to combine two sets of data to show you where some of those opportunities are. So happy to link to some of those resources down below or make a follow-up video on how to do just that.

I. Identify

All right. So step one is identifying these opportunities. You want to find the keywords that you’re on page one for that also have this answer box. You want to weigh the competitive search volume against qualified traffic. Initially, you might want to just go after search volume. I highly suggest you sort of reconsider and evaluate where might the qualified traffic come from and start to go after those.

II. Understand

From there, you really just want to understand the intent, more so even beyond this table that I have suggested for you. To be totally honest, I’m doing all of this with you. It’s been a struggle, and it’s been fun, but sometimes this isn’t very helpful. Sometimes it is. But a lot of times I’m not even looking at some of this stuff when I’m comparing the current featured snippet page and the page that we currently rank on page one for. I’ll tell you what I mean in a second.

III. Target

So we have an example of how I’ve been able to already steal one. Hopefully it helps you. How do you target your keywords that have the featured snippet?

  • Simplifying and cleaning up your pages does wonders. Google wants to provide a very simple, cohesive, quick answer for searchers and for voice searches. So definitely try to mold the content in a way that’s easy to consume.
  • Summaries do well. Whether they’re at the top of the page or at the bottom, they tend to do very, very well.
  • Competitive markup, if you see a current featured snippet that is marked up in a particular way, you can do so to be a little bit more competitive.
  • Provide unique info
  • Dig deeper, go that extra mile, provide something else. Provide that value.

Examples

What are some examples? So these are just some examples that I personally have been running into and I’ve been working on cleaning up.

  • Roman numerals. I am trying to target a list result, and the page we currently rank on number one for has Roman numerals. Maybe it’s a big deal, maybe it’s not. I just changed them to numbers to see what’s going to happen. I’ll keep you posted.
  • Fix broken links. But I’m also just going through our page and cleaning it. We have a lot of older content. I’m fixing broken links. I have the Check My Links tool. It’s a Chrome add-on plugin that I just click and it tells me what’s a 404 or what I might need to update.
  • Fixing spelling errors or any grammatical errors that may have slipped through editors’ eyes. I use Grammarly. I have the free version. It works really well, super easy. I’ve even found some super old posts that have the double or triple spacing after a period. It drives me crazy, but cleaning some of that stuff up.
  • Deleting extra markup. You might see some additional breaks, not necessarily like that ampersand. But you know what I mean in WordPress where it’s that weird little thing for that break in the space, you can clean those out. Some extra, empty header markup, feel free to delete those. You’re just cleaning and simplifying and improving your page.

One interesting thing that I’ve come across recently was for the keyword “MozRank.” Our page is beautifully written, perfectly optimized. It has all the things in place to be that featured snippet, but it’s not. That is when I fell back and I started to rely on some of this data. I saw that the current featured snippet page has all these links.

So I started to look into what are some easy backlinks I might be able to grab for that page. I came across Quora that had a question about MozRank, and I noticed that — this is a side tip — you can suggest edits to Quora now, which is amazing. So I suggested a link to our Moz page, and within the notes I said, “Hello, so and so. I found this great resource on MozRank. It completely confirms your wonderful answer. Thank you so much, Britney.”

I don’t know if that’s going to work. I know it’s a nofollow. I hope it can send some qualified traffic. I’ll keep you posted on that. But kind of a fun tip to be aware of.

How we nabbed the “find backlinks” featured snippet

All right. How did I nab the featured snippet “find backlinks”? This surprised me, because I hardly changed much at all, and we were able to steal that featured snippet quite easily. We were currently in the fourth position, and this was the old post that was in the fourth position. These are the updates I made that are now in the featured snippet.

Clean up the title

So we go from the title “How to Find Your Competitor’s Backlinks Next Level” to “How to Find Backlinks.” I’m just simplifying, cleaning it up.

Clean up the H2s

The first H2, “How to Check the Backlinks of a Site.” Clean it up, “How to Find Backlinks?” That’s it. I don’t change step one. These are all in H3s. I leave them in the H3s. I’m just tweaking text a little bit here and there.

Simplify and clarify your explanations/remove redundancies

I changed “Enter your competitor’s domain URL” — it felt a little duplicate — to “Enter your competitor’s URL.” Let’s see. “Export results into CSV,” what kind of results? I changed that to “export backlink data into CSV.” “Compile CSV results from all competitors,” what kind of results? “Compile backlink CSV results from all competitors.”

So you can look through this. All I’m doing is simplifying and adding backlinks to clarify some of it, and we were able to nab that.

So hopefully that example helps. I’m going to continue to sort of drudge through a bunch of these with you. I look forward to any of your comments, any of your efforts down below in the comments. Definitely looking forward to Part 3 and to chatting with you all soon.

Thank you so much for joining me on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I look forward to seeing you all soon. See you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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How to Discover Featured Snippet Opportunities – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by BritneyMuller

Winning featured snippets is one of the best ways to get visibility on page one of Google’s SERPs. It’s a competitive environment, though, and there are tons of specific considerations when it comes to increasing your chances of earning that spot. Today’s Whiteboard Friday, number one of an upcoming three-part series, is brought to you by Moz’s resident SEO and mini-pig advocate, Britney Muller. She covers the keyword research you’ll need to do, evaluating your current ranking, and recording relevant data in a spreadsheet with the help of a couple useful tools.

Discover Featured Snippet Opportunities

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans, welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going over all things discovering featured snippet opportunities. So this is the first part to three videos. So this will be the discover, but we’re also going to have a target and a measure video as well. So really, really excited. It’s going to be a ton of fun. I’m doing it with you, so you’re not going to be alone. It’s going to be this cool thing we all do together.

Part 1 of 3: Discover, target, measure

So for those of you that don’t know what a featured snippet is, it is one of those answer boxes at the top of search results. So let’s say you do a search like, oh, I don’t know, “Are teacup pigs healthy?” which they’re not, super sad. I love pigs. But you’ll get a featured snippet box like this that tells you like, “No, they’re actually starved.” It gives you all this information. So it’s different than something like “People also ask…” boxes or your typical search results.

Discover Featured Snippet Opportunities

They’re particularly appealing because of the voice search component. So most voice searches come from those featured snippet boxes as well as it just being really appealing in general to have that top spot.

#1 Keyword research

So this process is pretty straightforward. You’re going to start with just your basic keyword research. So you’re also going to focus on questions. A.J. Ghergich did this incredible study write-up, on SEMrush, about featured snippets, where he discovered that around 41% of all featured snippets come from questions, which makes sense. The how questions are really interesting because those results are most likely to result in lists.

Now, lists take both the form of numerical as well as bullets. So something to kind of keep in mind there. But what’s interesting about these lists is that they tend to be a little bit easier to truncate. So if you know that Google is showing 8 results, maybe you go back to your page and you make sure that you have 10. That way it lures people in to click to see the full list. Really interesting there.

#2 Evaluate your current ranking

You also want to evaluate your current ranking for these particular keywords. You want to prioritize keywords based on ones that you rank on page one for. It tends to be much easier to grab a featured snippet or to steal one if you’re also on page one.

#3 Put data into a spreadsheet

Discover Featured Snippet Opportunities

From there, we’re going to put all of this data and more data into a big spreadsheet so that we can really analyze and prioritize some of these opportunities. So some of the metrics I came up with — feel free to share some ideas below — are your keyword, average monthly search volume, current featured snippet URL, that’s this guy over here. What is that domain authority and page authority? You want to make note of those. Is it a featured snippet hub? This is such a cool term, that A.J. came up with in his article, that essentially coins a featured snippet URL that ranks for 10 or more featured snippet boxes. You probably won’t know this right away, so this might stay blank. But once you start seeing more and more of those same URLs, you might think it’s one of those hubs. It’s kind of cool.

Discover Featured Snippet Opportunities

Featured snippet type. Is it a paragraph, a list, or a table? Is there any markup? Is there schema markup? What’s going on, on the page in general? Just sort of scope all that out. What’s your rank? This is actually supposed to be over here. So, again, you want to see if you’re ranking 10 or under on a particular page, hopefully on page 1.

Then is there an image? So the featured snippet images are really interesting, because Google likes to swap them out and remove them and test them and do all this crazy stuff. I got to talk about these images and the tests that I’ve been doing on them on the Two Peas podcast with Brian Childs, part of his MozPod podcast series. It was super fun. I share some secrets in there, so go check it out.

Then what’s the type of image? So typically, you can start to see a theme of a particular niche or industry in their featured snippet images. Maybe they’re all stock photos, or maybe they’re all informational type photos. Maybe they all have the same color. Really interesting to sort of keep an eye on those.

What’s your desired featured snippet URL? This will typically be whatever URL is ranking. But maybe not. Make note of that.

Other notes, you can mention where Google is pulling the featured snippet from that page. I think that stuff is super interesting. You can do all sorts of fun stuff.

Research tools to use

So two primary tools to do all of this research within are Moz Keyword Explorer and SEMrush. Both have some caveats. Moz Keyword Explorer is great because you can do a bunch of keyword research and save them into lists. However, you can’t do keyword research only viewing the keywords that have featured snippets. You can’t do that. You have to do all the keyword research, put it into a list, and then we give you that data.

With SEMrush, it’s pretty cool. You get to filter only by featured snippet keywords. So that, off the bat, is awesome.

However, once you get a keyword list put together in Keyword Explorer, not only do you get that information of whether or not there’s a featured snippet, but right within your list of keywords, you have the ability to add your website and immediately see your rank for all of those particular keywords in your list, making this super, super easy.

I tried to do this with SEMrush. I know they have all of the features necessary to do so. However, it’s just not as easy. You have to use a combination of their different tools within their tool. I hit a couple different limits within Keyword Analyzer, and then by the time I got to position tracking, I lost my search volume from Keyword Magic tool, which was super frustrating.

There might be a better, easier way to do that. Maybe their API are pulling some stuff a little bit differently. Feel free to comment down below. Maybe there’s a better way than either of these. I don’t know. You could also do it pretty manually too. You could use Google Keyword Planner and look some of this stuff up yourself.

But I hope you enjoyed this. Thank you so much for joining me on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I look forward to seeing you all soon. Thanks.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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SearchCap: Google expands featured snippets, voice search ranking study & Rand Fishkin moves on

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