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The Power of Google Featured Snippets in 2017: Analysis, Case Studies and Recommendations By Glenn Gabe


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From the SMX East Conference in New York City,Oct 24-26, 2017. SESSION: The Power of Google Featured Snippets. PRESENTATION: The Power of Google Featured Snippets in 2017: Analysis, Case Studies and Recommendations - Given by Glenn Gabe, @glennbage - G-Squared Interactive, President. #SMX #22A3

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The Power of Google Featured Snippets in 2017: Analysis, Case Studies and Recommendations By Glenn Gabe

  1. 1. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe The Power of Google Featured Snippets in 2017 Analysis, Case Studies, and Recommendations Covering the latest featured snippets changes.
  2. 2. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe The Power of Google Featured Snippets in 2017 Analysis, Case Studies, and Recommendations Covering the latest featured snippets changes.
  3. 3. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe The Power of Google Featured Snippets in 2017 Analysis, Case Studies, and Recommendations Covering the latest featured snippets changes.
  4. 4. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • It’s hard to ignore featured snippets… • They receive special SERP treatment. • Can drive massive amounts of traffic. • Still provide a double listing in the SERPs. • Build near-instant credibility. • On that note… The Power of Featured Snippets in 2017 More about this soon?
  5. 5. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe From…
  6. 6. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe To…
  7. 7. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe To…
  8. 8. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe And even…
  9. 9. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Featured Snippets are POWERFUL! But really, really temperamental…
  10. 10. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe First, some quick stats.
  11. 11. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe "Over the past 12 months, Assistant has gotten a lot smarter. Google has added over 100M new unique featured snippets from the web, video results from YouTube, & new local places in Google Maps." Google Hardware Event October 2017
  12. 12. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • According to Mozcast, featured snippets show up for 15.5% of all searches. • SEMrush Sensor says 12.4% of all searches. How prevalent are featured snippets?
  13. 13. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • A lot. Here’s an example: • Relatively high-volume keyword. • Client won the featured snippet. • Yielded 41,144 clicks over 90 days. • 13.2% CTR. How much traffic can featured snippets drive?
  14. 14. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • That’s out of 60,673 total clicks to the landing page. • So the featured snippet accounted for 73% of total Google traffic to the landing page during the 90 day period! How much traffic can featured snippets drive?
  15. 15. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • Winning a featured snippet for a query gaining attention in the news. • The query yielded 32,743 total clicks over past 90 days. But check the graph… How much traffic can featured snippets drive? Won the snippet Query in the news.
  16. 16. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • I published a case study on Search Engine Land. • Client won the featured snippet for a high-volume query. • Drove massive amounts of traffic. • They lost the snippet… and 39K clicks over a two week period. • Then gained it back = Big win. • Then they lost it again. • Yes, the algo is temperamental. What can happen if you lose them?
  17. 17. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • They are shapeshifters and come in many forms. • Paragraph, lists, images, charts, KG, or a combination of all. Review: What Can They Look Like? Source: STAT
  18. 18. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Paragraph:
  19. 19. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Lists:
  20. 20. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Images:
  21. 21. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe List and Images: Hey, that’s me!
  22. 22. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Tables:
  23. 23. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Knowledge Graph + More:
  24. 24. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe But there’s more. What’s that you ask??
  25. 25. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe People Also Ask (PAA) is on steroids. • Many featured snippets are followed by People Also Ask blocks. • Those listings trigger more featured snippets and answers. • And they infinitely load. • The good news is that you can possibly land two or more answers.
  26. 26. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe People Also Ask (PAA) is on steroids. • According to Mozcast, PAA shows up for 27.7% of all queries. • That’s up from 9% in January of 2016.
  27. 27. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe And speaking of performance-enhancing SERP features…
  28. 28. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • Meet its big brother, FEATURED VIDEOS. • Talk about huge SERP real estate… • You almost have to click it! • And you can probably guess which site has a ton of them…. YOUTUBE. What’s BIGGER and BADDER than featured snippets?
  29. 29. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe
  30. 30. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe
  31. 31. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe
  32. 32. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • Will highlight a segment in the video. • And take you right to that spot. • And keep you in the SERP. • Beware, no ads play. Google has juiced up featured videos with suggested clips.
  33. 33. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Artificial Intelligence (AI) is cool. Is that being used?
  34. 34. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Pygmalion Team: Google Is Using AI To Surface “Up Shots” • Announced in November of 2016. • Google’s Pygmalion team is using sentence compression algorithms to surface “up shots” for featured snippets. • 100 PHD linguists fed the algorithm handcrafted examples. • The algo separates “gold data” vs. “silver”.
  35. 35. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe This may be disturbing.
  36. 36. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Big Change: Images from third-party websites: • Google can surface images from third- party websites. • Yes, that means your images could be used in your competitors’ featured snippets! • It’s actually been happening for a while, just not at this scale. • Big surge in April of 2017.
  37. 37. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Images from third parties. More examples:
  38. 38. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!!” • When this change hit, an important question was raised. • Could you edit an image showing in another site’s featured snippet? • i.e. YOUR IMAGE… • I waited for an opportunity to test this… • And then the SEO gods answered.
  39. 39. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Operation Photo Bomb: Editing your own hijacked images in featured snippets. • I edited my image being used. • Fetched as Google and submitted to index. • The image was updated quickly! • But the FS algo was smart… really smart. • The image was swapped out for another from my site! • So I removed the edited text… • And the original image returned. • Scary on several levels.
  40. 40. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Operation Photo Bomb: Editing your own hijacked images in featured snippets.
  41. 41. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Accelerated Mobile Featured Snippets (AMFS) I just made that up.
  42. 42. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe AMP version now used in featured snippets: • Until recently, the AMP version of a url (if available) was NOT used in the featured snippet in mobile search. • This made absolutely no sense. • I tweeted about this in January of 2017...
  43. 43. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe AMP version now used in featured snippets: • Then on 8/30/17, the change was made. • All featured snippets would show the AMP url if one was available. • AMP’s reach grew even more. • Google also implemented a new icon in FS, without the AMP text. • Because your grandmother definitely knows what the AMP icon means. <sarcasm />
  44. 44. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe The Dreaded Site Migration
  45. 45. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Can you retain featured snippets after a site migration? • Yes, you definitely can! • It seems the FS algo can pick up the 301 redirect and quickly know it’s the new version of the url. • I help a lot of companies with migrations and have been tracking featured snippets for them.
  46. 46. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Can you retain featured snippets during a site migration?
  47. 47. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Targeting other languages? Speed to win. • There is sometimes much less competition when you target other languages. • And featured snippets could come along for the ride. • Quickly… • I’ve seen this with my own writing and for clients I’m helping land featured snippets.
  48. 48. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Targeting other languages? Speed to FS. 24 hours after publishing the post.
  49. 49. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe On the topic of speed… • You can sometimes land featured snippets very quickly. • If your site is trusted, the FS algo can reward you quickly after publishing. • And that can spike targeted traffic. Less than 24 hours after publishing the post.
  50. 50. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Algorithms are not perfect.
  51. 51. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • Definitely not! • Featured snippets are algorithmically surfaced, which always leaves room for error. • For example, 404s, spam, and some hysterical results. Are featured snippets always the best possible result?
  52. 52. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe NOT always the best snippet. • Not sure how valuable a featured snippet is when it shows an ad! • Good for the advertiser, bad for the publisher and user.
  53. 53. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe NOT always the best snippet. • Or when it’s displaying form fields from a whitepaper download! *The site edited the page and form. Beware.
  54. 54. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe NOT always the best snippet. • How about tag clouds in a featured snippet? What?!?
  55. 55. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe NOT always the best snippet. • Checking football schedules? • How about for the 2025-2026 season? LOL.
  56. 56. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Voice Assistants Are Gaining Strength
  57. 57. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Voice Assistants – Google Assistant & Home • Still used for rudimentary tasks, but that will change. • Google Home is infinitely smarter than Alexa at this point. It’s Google Assistant! • It can tap into Google Search. • And it surfaces featured snippets as answers.
  58. 58. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Voice Assistants – Google Home • The answer is read for you and references the site it’s being surfaced from. • It also shows up in the Google Home app with a link to the site. • But there’s very little opportunity for a true site visit. • It’s branding, and the occasional site visit. • No monetization opportunity.
  59. 59. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Rank Position and Featured Snippets
  60. 60. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Do you need to rank on page 1? • Most believe that featured snippets will only pull from pages ranking within the top 10. • That’s mostly true, but they can be pulled from rankings beyond page 1. • You don’t need to rank on page 1! How about #16
  61. 61. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe And here’s one ranking #15
  62. 62. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
  63. 63. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Breaking News • The featured snippets algo is fast. Really fast. • FS can be generated for, or respond to, breaking news. • I’ve seen this many times, and even with the recent hurricanes. This appeared the next morning!
  64. 64. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Breaking News – Puerto Rico • Based on the devastation in Puerto Rico, and the subsequent political situation, the featured snippet changed quickly. • It changed based on recent articles and query demand. Article just written (9/26/17)Evergreen content that won the featured snippet prior to the hurricanes.
  65. 65. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Breaking News – Puerto Rico • And two days later, it was back to the Wikipedia article!
  66. 66. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Google’s Quality Algorithms, Mobile-first index, and more.
  67. 67. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Quality Component to Featured Snippets • Google has explained there’s a quality component to both featured snippets and rich snippets. • I have seen this first hand with quality updates (major algorithm updates focused on quality). • Sites can lose or gain many featured snippets when Google’s quality algorithms are refreshed. Prior to quality update: After quality update:
  68. 68. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Google’s Mobile-first index: • Google’s mobile-first index is approaching quickly. • It’s a 180 for Search. • Currently, the desktop version of content is used to surface featured snippets. • After the m-first index rolls out, the mobile version of the content will be used. • Make sure to audit your site soon.
  69. 69. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Featured snippets tools.
  70. 70. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • My favorite tool – SEMrush SERP features module. • GSC – filter by questions + #1 rankings. • Moz – project-based (tied to specific domain you’re tracking) • ahrefs surfaces featured snippets. • And I might, or might not be, testing something very cool. :) Tools: How can you research featured snippets?
  71. 71. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Tools for surfacing featured snippets: SEMrush
  72. 72. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Tools for surfacing featured snippets: SEMrush • And there’s new functionality in SEMrush! • Using position tracking (rank tracking), you can slice and dice your query data by featured snippets options.
  73. 73. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Tools for surfacing featured snippets: GSC • Featured snippets will show up with a position of 1 in GSC. • You can filter by query and review queries in position 1. • Use the API to export queries and landing pages in bulk.
  74. 74. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Winning a featured snippet.
  75. 75. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe From Google
  76. 76. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • Cover a topic as thoroughly and clearly as you can. • Answer the question concisely and provide both the question and the answer on the page. • Provide a concise section that answers the core query you are targeting (if it can be answered in one shot). • If it’s a process, then list the steps involved. So how do you win a featured snippet?
  77. 77. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • Use bullets or numbered lists for a process (steps). • Provide a strong image near the answer (for possible inclusion in the featured snippet.) • Don’t forget about html tables. They yield compelling featured snippets. • Don’t artificially add more content. Snippets can be surfaced for shorter-form content too. Winning a featured snippet cont’d:
  78. 78. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • Research your competition! • Find out which featured snippets they have. • It’s easier to replace a featured snippet versus generating a new one. • Use the tools I mentioned earlier. • Ex: SEMrush -> Finding featured snippets to target:
  79. 79. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Structured Data NOT required. "We've discussed that with the team a few times, that maybe we should have a structured data markup that people can use to get featured snippets. But the team is happier to surface them organically. They didn't want to bog down webmasters with even more structured data markup to add to their pages."
  80. 80. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • Yes, you can. • I tested this several times for my own featured snippets. The snippets can change quickly… • But be careful… remember, the algo is temperamental. • You could lose it… Can you refine featured snippets?
  81. 81. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Refining a featured snippet: GSQi Just 7 minutes later!
  82. 82. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe Sending feedback back to the mothership.
  83. 83. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe The powerful feedback button (Updated!) "The feedback button is the best way to report inaccurate featured snippets. That information does get back to the team. But make sure it's easily understandable. Don't curse in all caps. Provide reasonable information for Google. That's something that over time our systems (algorithms) can take into account."
  84. 84. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe New ways to report featured snippets: • Google rolled out a new feedback mechanism with Project Owl. • You can now provide even more detail when providing feedback directly in the search results.
  85. 85. #SMX #22A3 @glenngabe • Know your site. Surface your own featured snippets. • Analyze those pages and the content. • Find more FS in your industry/niche. • Go after them! • Use images, bullets, and html tables. • Provide quality images or the FS image could be sourced from another site. • Use AMP for lightning-quick load times + special SERP treatment. • Increase site quality overall. There’s a quality component. • And remember, the algo is temperamental. Don’t get discouraged. Final tips and recommendations: