Google is constantly changing, updating and refining the ways in which it displays search results to users, Featured snippets — also known as ‘rich results’ and ‘answer boxes’ among other terms — are the most prominent of these changes. The growth of featured snippets has resulted in the ‘zero-click search’ phenomenon, where traditional search results are pushed further down the page and get fewer clicks and impressions.
Should you optimise for rich results?
Before looking at the benefits of getting your content to appear for rich results and featured snippets, it’s important to first ascertain whether:
- You stand a chance of getting your content to appear for a rich result, and
- It’s advantageous to have the content on a specific page appear for such results in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Now you may be thinking… “Wait a minute, if rich results are the bees knees as I’ve been told over and over again, why wouldn’t I want my content to appear in a featured snippet in Google’s search results?”
First things first, does the ‘keyword’ or ‘search term’ you have in mind even deliver rich results in SERPs? Before you start implementing the right page layout and structured data on your target pages, make sure there’s a rich result appearing for that search term. Also, be sure to research a few variations of the term to see what’s showing and what the competition is like, as you may find it easier — and more importantly, feasible — to optimise for a supporting or longer-tail keyword with lower search volume than the search term that you initially had in mind.
What’s more, bear in mind that not every web page listed in search results is in a position to get a featured snippet — usually, only web pages that appear in the top five listings stand a chance of appearing for rich results. So, if you’re not in the top half of results on Page #1 for that particular search term, your first priority should be improving your rankings. Once you’ve hit the top 5 for your target search term, then start looking at how best to optimise your content for rich results.
But that’s not all. With zero-click searches becoming the norm for certain searches, you also have to evaluate whether it’s in your best interest to have that content shown in a featured snippet, especially if it answers the user’s question — or solves their problem — without the need for them to click through to the page. This is especially the case with FAQ pages that may answer the user’s question directly in search results, eliminating the need to click through to the page and access more information, and reducing the opportunity to explore more of your website.
While featured snippets are prime SERP real estate and deliver incredible visibility — which can have a positive branding effect even if it isn’t delivering clicks — some businesses find that it’s better to not appear for a particular query and instead, drive more traffic back to their website. Measurement is key here — measure the page’s click-through rate before and after appearing for a rich result and if you find that traffic is down considerably, you may need to reevaluate your strategy.
Optimising for rich results isn’t an overly time-consuming process, but it does involve research and optimisation, and, as such, you want to ensure that your time and energy is spent on the right keywords and content. After all, if a search term doesn’t deliver rich results, you’re too far from the top of Page #1 to stand a chance of appearing for one, or your content would be better served as a traditional search result, chances are you’ll find there are other opportunities to focus on.
Why optimise for rich results?
Not only do rich results really stand out from the other results on a SERP due to the prominent position and presentation, but they’re also a great way to boost visibility and traffic to your site in addition to gaining an edge over your SERP competitors. What’s more, they’re actually very easy to optimise for once you’re in a position to appear for them. And the benefits?
- Improved click-through-rate (CTR)— Rich snippets deliver a higher click-through-rate for most search results that can drive more traffic to your website. While it’s important to understand that some rich results answer a user’s question directly in the SERP and miss out on the click, overall, rich snippets tend to deliver an improved click-through-rate because of their prioritised position in the SERP. What’s more, there can still be a range of other benefits to zero-click searches, such as boosting brand visibility and brand trust, two very important considerations that are difficult to measure as metrics.
- Prime real estate — There’s no denying that when you appear above all other search results with a bullet point list or a tabled featured snippet that showcases your content, you’re going to garner more attention from users. This delivers more website visibility than traditional search results, not to mention more clicks and traffic, which is, naturally, what you’re aiming for by optimising your web pages.
- Better quality visitors — Appearing for rich snippets can encourage higher user engagement (such as improving click-through-rate) and it can also pre-qualify visitors. By providing an ‘answer’ to the user, it helps to send the right traffic through to the web page, which results in a lower bounce rate because users have been served a quality result that’s in line with what they’re looking for.
Need help optimising for rich results and featured snippets as part of your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy? NOUS can help. Give the team a call on (07) 3003 0722 or email us at [email protected].