Featured Snippets and the Takeaways for Digital Marketers

Featured Snippets and the Takeaways for Digital Marketers

Sometimes I really wonder whether a bunch of wizards work for Google. Google’s ability to read a searcher’s mind is fascinating. The search engine giant gets all the hints from queries used by searchers, but even with a large database of keywords, satisfying searchers with precisely what they want is difficult.

But Google has been doing it for over last few years. Slowly, the company is perfecting its algorithms and reaching accuracy. The featured snippet is a great example of what Google has been able to achieve so far, and what lies ahead in the future.

What is it?

I guess you’ve noticed it already. When you type a query in the search-box and press enter, Google displays a few lines of information on the SERP. It is displayed right above the organic search results, and the source website is mentioned underneath.

It is called featured snippet. This feature allows Google to kill too many birds with just one stone. Let me explain how:

Conversational web

A number of industry observers have stated that in future, all web interfaces will become conversational. The Web 2.0 has made websites interactive, but unless search engine interfaces are in sync, the conversational web remains only an idea.

Featured snippets put Google one step ahead in making the searching process more interactive. Google asks for feedback from searchers, so it gets to know the impact of this new feature on their search habit. As searchers post their feedback, the conversational web starts to take a tangible form.

Notice the style

The texts in the featured snippets tell a lot about how intelligent Google has become. When a user is provided with the answer to his search query, the most informative part of the content is selected. It’s not possible unless some really advanced algorithms are at work.

Higher CTR

I’ll resume discussing the technical aspects of featured snippets later, for now, let me take you through some of its advantages, so you could understand the justification behind my usage of the idiom above.

Some online marketers have already started to harness this feature. They are making their client’s web-pages more informative, so the odds of it being used by Google in a featured snippet increase. Case studies justify such efforts. One case study indicates the organic performance of a page has soared nearly 516% after information from the page was used by Google in a featured snippet.

A better organic performance leads to an increased visibility, higher CTR and a better retention rate for site visitors.

Opportunity for content marketers

Here’s something that’s really useful for you. The featured snippet prevents you from getting lost in the crowd. I feel you should be thankful to Google as it has given you an excellent opportunity to battle out big brands.

If the content on your website is informative, put together from credible sources and in a persuasive manner, you could legitimately expect a rewarding payoff. Google might use your site content for featured snippets. 

Beg a question

Okay, back to technicalities again. What factors persuade Google to use your content in the featured snippet? My belief is it’s the content itself.

The content developer needs to anticipate search queries, and formulate the content as answers to the anticipated queries. Now when you are doing that, bear in mind Google might roll out different featured snippets for two almost similar search queries – one that looks like a question, and another one that doesn’t look so. See Figure 1 below:


                                                  Figure 1

I’ve put “what is” before “cannizarro reaction” and Google displayed a featured snippet. When I trimmed down the search query, the result was the same. See Figure 2 below:

Figure 2-SEO

                                                  Figure 2

But when I used a different search query, the results were different. See Figure 3:

Figure 3-SEO

                                                  Figure 3

The keyword was “offset printing.” The result displayed is from a site called the-printer-net.com. When I used the keyphrase “what is offset printing”, this is what Google displayed:

Figure 4-SEO

                                                  Figure 4

You can see Google used content from Wikipedia to render the featured snippet in figure 3. This finding implies Google might use two different sources to display two featured snippets – one for the keyword that’s without interrogative expressions, and one for the one that’s with it.

I recommend online marketers to put extra emphasis on the content, so it satisfies an asker and also appear useful for those, who are only looking for some quick information. It gives you access to a wider spectrum; people might land on your site from featured snippet links, and also from organic results on SERPs.

The big picture

This discussion compels us to glance at the big picture, in which a more integrated and interactive version of searching is intertwined with a sophisticated form of content marketing. This might very well be the future of SEO. The more an online marketer discovers this crossroad, the more benefits he reaps.

Supriyo Das

Supriyo das is a thinker and a doer. He writes on online marketing and related niche areas. When he gets breaks from work, he plays shootout games and goes for outing. To connect to him, add him on LinkedIn and Google+

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