Posted on May 21, 2019
Featured Snippets, Rich Snippets, Structured Data are technical terms that you might have already heard about. In this article, we aim to explain what they mean and how you can use them at your advantage.
First of all, let’s start with: What are featured snippets?
A featured snippet is the summary of an answer to a user’s query, that is displayed on top of Google search results. Google extracts them from a web page, showing its title and URL. Featured search appear in a box which stands visually out from the rest of the page, to capture the user’s attention. Google shows this result as “the best response” to that query, the one the user can gather the information better – and quicker from.
Featured snippets and click-through-rate (CTR)
Featured Snippets get a web page to the top of the SERP in an outstanding position: this means great brand awareness. Surely, being featured means getting additional brand exposure in search results.
In some cases, this means that the click-through rate (or CTR, which measures the number of clicks that your result receives divided by the number of times it is shown on Google) can increase, as more visitors can be interested in clicking on your specific result.
However, sometimes the Featured Snippets can give the user a response directly on the Google SERP, decreasing the click-through-rate. In fact, there are a lot of searches that can be satisfied directly on Google with Featured Snippets.
At the end of last year, Rand Fishkin at SparkToro published an article stated that
72% of searches on mobile and 34% on desktop result in no clicks
One of the reasons for this is exactly that people do not need to click on the websites when these SERP features satisfy them directly on Google‘s SERP.
Is CTR a ranking factor?
We discussed how User Experience signals impact on ranking results, and how the RankBrain part of the algorithm takes this into consideration.
A few months ago, Google’s Gary Illyes 3 months ago answered vaguely on Reddit to this question:
Lots of people keep saying that part of the RankBrain system includes UX signals, including Dwell Time, Bounce Rate, Click Through Rate etc. Can you please confirm/deny whether RB uses UX signals of any kind?”
However, there’s a Google document on AI & Machine Learning Products that states that
when you click a link in Google Search, Google considers your click when ranking that search result.
Obviously, if CTR was a ranking factor, Google wouldn’t tell us, because people would use this knowledge to heavily manipulate the algorithm!
And anyway, the goal of an SEO Specialist isn’t just ranking high for keywords. It is to bring relevant users to a site and to help them fulfil a purpose.
We can use Enriched SERPS to drive meaningful clicks to our sites
First, let’s check what the technical terms mean:
- SERP stands for Search Engine Result Page. These can be enriched by different SERP Features.
- SERP Features are results on Google that are not displayed as the
- Traditional snippet (that is made by title, URL and Meta description) of an organic result.
- The most common SERP Features are Rich Snippets. These can add various types of visual layers to a result. Let’s see what they can be.
Types of Rich Snippets
- Rich Answer. This is not a Featured Snippet because it doesn’t show the source of the information. We can’t see any snippet (Title, URL and meta description) of any website as a source of this information.
- Knowledge Graph. They’re often extracted from a variety of sites.
Main types of Featured Snippets
Featured Snippets are Rich Snippets that also shows which site provides that rich information.
They are different according to the information that they contain. For example:
- A paragraph of text that Google extracts from a page, considering it the best answer to the searcher’s query, adds an image and some more information. If you do not just give a quick answer to the question, but you’re exhaustive, this can help your site’s click-through-rate (CTR) significantly.
- Same happens with numbered and bulleted lists
- Reviews Featured Snippets show the short excerpt of a review or an average rating from a website
- YouTube videos can also become featured snippets! That’s one of the reasons why I encourage my customers not to neglect the world’s second largest search engine.
Google generally extracts the extra data that makes the snippet “rich” from Structured Data of that a page’s HTML. Another technical term, ok. So,
What is Structured Data?
Structured data is a particular type of code that is particularly easy for search engines to understand. Google declares:
Google Search works hard to understand the content of a page. You can help us by providing explicit clues about the meaning of a page to Google by including structured data on the page.
Search engines read the code and use it to display search results in a specific and much richer way.
Structured Data are not a recent discovery at all.
It was 2011 when the operators of the world’s largest search engines at that time (Bing, Google, Yahoo! and Yandex) joined their efforts to
“create, maintain, and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet, on web pages, in email messages, and beyond.”
The collaborative community activity Schema.org started, aimed to create a structured data markup schema supported by all the major search engines. This markup still exists and its Structured data helps search engines understand the information on web pages and provide richer search results.
In Schema.org you can find many different types of markups that you can provide to your webpage, if relevant, to provide additional detail around its content.
Main Types of Structured Data and their markup:
The Person Structured Data markup includes:
- Job Title
- Homepage URL
- Company / Organisation in affiliation
The Event Structured Data markup includes:
- Event Title
- Start Date
- End Date
- Ticket Price
- Url to buy the ticket
The Product Structured Data markup is perfect for e-commerce and it includes:
- Brand Name
- Product Name
- Product’s availability
The Recipe Structured Data markup includes:
- Recipe Name
- Author Name
- Time Required
- Preparation time
- Cook Time
- Ingredients used
- Recipe Photo
Also, there are various other types of Structured Data such as
- Software application
- Article (a common choice for blog posts)
- Service (recommended for service-based business websites)
- and plenty of local businesses such as Restaurant, Attorney, Hotel, Taxi
SERP Features can bring the right kind of traffic to the site.
Targeting heavy volume keywords that drive a lot of clicks can be negative if it’s not targeted traffic and the users bouncing off to the SERPS. Then it’s not valuable for you at all. Your aim is to bring in the visitors who want to be on your site!
For example, of all the Featured Snippets, this one tells us that the recipe has fewer calories and that it takes less time to be prepared.
Instead of going to the page and bouncing back or having a short visit, which could negatively impact your engagement metrics, this featured snippet brings a more relevant session to your site, made by people who want a lighter, quicker preparation.
Also, using enriched SERPS you can surely get more clicks to your site if you’re providing more content that is more useful and more relevant.
If you’d like assistance with the Search Engine Optimisation of your website, including this technical kind of set up, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us for a free consultation.