When it comes to rankings, featured snippets are the number one goal. More often than not, hidden behind organic results of search engine results pages (SERPs) are searches that are “ranking zero.” This is when a Google answer box is captured, which associates to increased traffic and more link clicks on your site. For this Whiteboard Friday, Rand expounds on the subject of featured snippets, its three types, and the best way of positioning your site to obtain these SERP spots.
This week, we will be talking about answer boxes. Google puts these featured snippets under ranking position zero, which are often times positioned above other organic search results and usually below the top ads. Because of this placement, the sites here can sometimes gain clicks away from the top ten links in Google’s search results ranking.
In detail, there are three types of featured snippets (which are also known as answer boxes). These show up in Google’s results for mobile and desktop. Moz made use of a desktop-based search engine. However, I research for all possible examples on mobile, and all of these showed the exact snippets shown from desktop. With this I can deduce that it is a one-to-one ration.
The three snippets are list, tables, and paragraphs, with examples to be given later. Given a global context, we will be discussing about 15 percent of all questions from came up from one of the following featured snippets.
I tried searching for “Istanbul history” for this snippet. The first thing you would notice is that Wikipedia is on both ranking number one and ranking number zero. There is an image present at the right-hand part on desktop. Meanwhile on mobile view, the photo is located above the text. Then, there is the snippet that provides a brief, general answer to the entered query.
You can find paragraph answers for anything you have in mind. About 63 percent of snippets are formatted in this manner.
This is how lists look like. I entered in “strengthen lower back,” and I got the similar format once more. But this time, the search results are written in a list, thus the origin of the snippet’s name. The results show back strengthening exercises from wikiHow’s article titled “How to Strengthen Lower Back. The list enumerates the workout movements to be done, such as pelvic tilting, hip bridges, floor swimming, and so on.
The lists, on the other hand, are composed of about 19 percent of answers. They usually appear in either numeric or in bullet point format.
Lastly are tables, such as this. The keywords I tested for this is “WordPress hosting comparison.” Tables show up when comparisons are made, usually in a chart-type kind of view. For this search, the details were provided by wpstecare.com. An actual graph was used as the visual accompanied with details on the performance of WordPress’ best hosting companies, their name, account type, and even the costs every month. It is ranked either number two or three, but it is also in position zero.
According to STAT’s featured snippet research, tables comprise of 16 percent of all answers, which is close to lists’ percentage.
You can read more about Moz’s research by downloading the PDF document of his presentation, which I am referencing for the entire article. Another work worth looking into is Bill Slawski’s piece on how Google fills their snippets by accessing websites’ tables for structured data.
Aside from knowing that featured snippets have three formats, give substantive data, and boost you above other results, the real question that most people ask is “How can I get to that position?”
Fortunately, I have some answers. Aside from Rob and his team’s research, we also have our own research and testing work for Moz, with Dr. Pete doing a bunch. Here are a few suggestions if you are planning to try getting into a featured snippet.
6 Recommendations to Get Into Answer Boxes
Identify Questions for Keyword (KW) Researches That Inquire Either Indirect or Open Queries.
There is a need to do keyword research and determine queries that are asking questions in an implicit or explicit way. The queries must be partially broader in scope as compared to Google’s Knowledge Graph can deliver. For instance, if you ask a question such as “How old is Istanbul,” they might answer “3,000 years old” and not even provide any citation, which can be very frustrating.
Basically, these are questions that we are eyeing on for keyword research should be slightly wider in coverage that demand a question to be answered rather than having a single liner or single portion of knowledge.
Keywords can be found easily with the help of certain applications such as Keyword Explorer. However, many things, such as Istanbul history, are designed as implicit questions. You may also get featured snippets for those.
Look for Questions Already in Use of the Answer Box. Grab the Opportunity Once You See That Your Competition Has Done a Mediocre Job.
For this stage, you can use Keyword Explorer and other similar tools that would identify the categories of results from the query, which are in the form of featured snippets or answer boxes. Search for queries that utilize the featured snippet.
If the box is already there and is owned by someone, this means that there is an opportunity to advance higher than them by creating a greater answer that is more accurate, more complete, and formatted better than the previous top answer, given that it is a weak one.
By giving answers that satisfy the criteria mentioned above, you may be able to surpass those belonging in the upper ranks. Remember to reformat the answers in a way that they will be more superior to the answers that are already in the snippet.
This strategy enables you to take position zero from your rival and get it for your advantage. Getting this rank will be easy especially when the competing team is doing an unexceptional job. Oftentimes, weak results are prevalent. If this ever happens, the chance of earning position zero is very likely.
Being Ranked as Number 1 Can Be Helpful, but Is Not Necessarily Required. Google Is Going To Take Anything That Is Located on the First Page of Search Results.
Although It Is Beneficial To Be in the Number One Spot, It Is Not Necessary When It Comes to Getting Zero Ranking. You can test this out in order to verify the truth of this statement. Often, when you ask a query, Google pulls up a featured snippet. You can take the inquiry string and add “&num=100,” or you can also change the settings for Google Search wherein Google displays 50 or 100 results. Usually, Google pulls a snippet that can be found in the lower down portion of the results page, which sometimes reaches the top 30 or 40 results instead of the top 10.
In essence, Google triggers answer results from anything that pops up on the first page of result queries. This is great since rankings are not an issue, making it possible to own the answer box.
Match Up the Paragraph, Table, or List for the Query Terms Found on the Title, Section Header, Caption, or Label. Use Logical Answers and Be Wary of Your Format and Language.
Language and format are essential factors for query answers. Language covers areas such as phrases and terms used for the answers. Most likely, the use of these parts of language is a bit more literal in approach than other kinds of keyword targeting. Google is more inclined to show answer results that show the keywords, word per word.
There is also a need to ensure that the paragraphs, lists, or table format we use are matched with the inquiries and that logical answers are provided when answering these query terms. You can put the answers in different areas, such as on the web page title, in an image caption, a section label, or in the section header.
On the condition that you are correctly structured in a section of the answer or in the document all together, the chance of you getting the featured snippets is high.
Accuracy Is a Key Factor in Getting Into Answer Boxes. Google Usually Shows Its Favour for Responses That Are Stronger and More Correct.
Providing accuracy is your main goal for this section since Google leans toward results that are more precise in nature. This may be questionable to some since knowing if you are being accurate or not is a struggle given that information is subjective. However, for this scenario, Google is more likely to pull up results that are well matched with reliable sites, showing similar research information.
Still, there are circumstances that some people question, such as queries that may deal with prejudiced topics. For issues that often present biased or incorrect argument, such as political spheres, Google utilizes sources that are scientific in approach, such as consensus-based sites. Also, Google can use trusted sources such as Wikipedia, NPR, or government-run websites as references.
The answers needed for the snippet does not necessarily need to come exactly from the domains mentioned. However, the information for the answers must match what is stated on those domains. Giving erroneous results may cause you to lose credibility, thus lessening the chance that Google will pull your answers as the featured snippets.
Aim To Attract Many Clicks. You Can Do This by Consuming the Maximum Length for the Featured Snippet Which Google Has Provided to Your Benefit.
This process is more inclined on increasing the traffic that enters your site rather than getting to higher ranks. Sometimes, it can get frustrating when you are ranking in the coveted position zero. This is because the people searching are already getting the answers they need, thus leaving the search engines without clicking your link. This means that you are not earning any traffic.
However, ranking in position zero actually gains more traffic rather than being just in rank number one. Aside from being the first link to be seen by searchers, being that you are in rank zero, you also get additional traffic in the organic search result placement you are currently in. This gives you a lead against other competitors.
If you want to get the traffic from rank zero, you can attract users to click your link by utilizing the maximum length of Google’s snippet for your benefit. This strategy is when you use only a portion of data from your list or table in a way that it is incomplete and that the people searching are required to visit your site in order to read the rest of the data you have provided.
The same thing applies with paragraph snippets. An introductory paragraph will be given with a specific number of characters to be utilized. Therefore, if you structure it in a way that the initial paragraph leads to the following paragraph or that it is longer than the given character count or the given word count, then you can draw another click instead of letting Google take your potential traffic away.
Hopefully, the information discussed in this article has armed you in preparation of taking ranking zero position on Google’s search engine. With these data provided, you can now accomplish the task of getting featured snippets, and at the same time, increasing the traffic entry for your site. If you have any questions in mind, I would gladly like to hear them. It would be interesting to know if you have any examples of featured snippets and their corresponding rankings. Thank you, and let’s see each other again on the next episode of Whiteboard Friday.