Google’s new design of their popular search feature “featured snippets” is stirring up some concerns for SEO. Featured snippets are user-friendly answers that appear at the top of a google search. With the updated design, Google’s featured snippets now pull the copy from multiple sources and conglomerate them into one answer. In the past, a featured snippet contained content pulled from a single publisher with a link to that publisher’s website. The SEO advantage of your website being the featured snippet was inherent. But, as often is the case, Google has changed its feature and made things a bit more complex. When a featured snippet gets information from multiple websites, it doesn’t display links. Instead of displaying links there are multiple “read more” tags which lead to website links.
The new layout puts one more click between users and content publishers. There is a concern that a website’s content could be at the top of a SERP (search engine results page) and not lead to impressions because links are not displayed prominently in this new format. This new layout theoretically allows users to read content without visiting the publisher’s website. It is not all bad news though, Google may have designed this layout with SEO in mind. The new layout ensures that one website does not monopolize a snippet. The new layout also provides shorter answers compared to the old layout. If a user is not satisfied with a one-word answer, they are more likely to click through the snippet. There are definitely pros and cons to the new design. Regardless of how we feel about the new layout’s design, it exists now.
As always, when Google throws a new curveball there is a need to adapt to the change. In order to adapt to the new layout, it is important to understand how Snippets work from an SEO perspective. In snippets, 99% of websites featured were in the top 10 of the organic search results. Interestingly, 70% of websites featured were not number 1 in the organic search (more good news). Aside from the standard practices, there are a few ways to optimize for featured snippets. Looking for “key questions” alongside finding keywords. Figure out what questions your target audience is asking and create FAQs and how-to pages. Research shows that pages that have been in one featured snippet are often used in a different snippet. To optimize for this, create articles that gather multiple related questions together and answer them. Answers should be in the ballpark of 40 to 60 words because Google prioritizes snippets to be short and concise.
Because Google’s new format of featured snippets contains results from multiple publishers and separates the user and the publisher by one more click it is imperative to have a site that ranks in the top 10 and to create content that is optimized for snippets. Follow this blog for more information on SEO strategies and how to optimize featured snippets.