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What Do They Mean For Search Rankings?

Recently, Google tweeted that they’ve changed how their Featured Snippets work in their search engines. Today, we’re going to go over what featured snippets are, how this change affects rankings, and what this means for your business.

What is a Featured Snippet?

Featured Snippets have been around for a while. You’ve probably noticed them even if you didn’t think about them. Instead of displaying the URL, a title and short paragraph containing the content on your website is compiled and placed into the focus of the result. These snippets are very useful because they let searchers see the important information without needing to go to it. It allows them to determine at a glance if your site might be what they’re looking for. As a result, this lowers the bounce rate. Less people click your page, find out it’s not what they want, and then click away within a few seconds. Instead, people going to your website already know what you’re about and click on your site to get more detailed information. They stay longer, which helps your rankings out as well as being a great convenience to searchers.

How did Google Change the Featured Snippets?

featured snippetsIn short, they changed it in a big way. Before, these snippets were counted as separate from search results and would display before the first result (what marketers called “Position 0”). This had the effect of sometimes causing a website to show up as a search result multiple times on the front page. If you were featured and then also ranked #1 in the Google search, you’d display twice in a row. As Google puts it, this cluttered up the search results. In tweet by Google’s search liaison, they’ve changed it so that if your site appears in a featured snippet, you will no longer appear as a search result.

Why Did Google Do This?

Aside from cluttering up the page with multiple results for the same website, Google found that setting featured snippets as a separate result tended to be redundant. What Google’s found is that most people click the featured snippet and then ignore the other results (source). By removing repeat websites from search results, they avoid the redundancy, letting more varied results appear on the first page. The huge advantage to this in your business is that you have a better chance of appearing on the first page if you’re ranking well. This is good, because search results that appear on the first page get 95% of the traffic (source). More varied results on the first page means better changes for you to get new customers.

How do Featured Snippets Work?

These snippets are created automatically from the content from your page. They will also gather info from your metadescriptions, title tags, and featured images to flesh out the content if it helps. You do have a little control over the process. You can use tags in the header and body to exclude either the whole page, or parts of the text from snippet creation, and you can also provide a limit to how many characters will be allowed in a snippet from you page. Aside from that, the process handles itself.

How Do I Take Advantage of This?

Just because the process is automatic, doesn’t mean you can’t make use of it. Google looks for what it calls “structured data” to determine snippet content. Structured data can be arranged through proper mark-up of your text. Good titles for sections of your website are a must, because titles are the fastest way that Google recognizes the content of any given section of your website. Be sure to tag each section header appropriately.

For the rest, Google will look for certain types of mark-ups. Bulleted lists, scripts, and other tags will all draw googles attention. On top of this, the completeness of the content is determined by the relevance of the search keywords to the text in a given paragraph. If you want your content to have a good chance of being selected as a featured snippet, you need to make sure that a paragraph gives a concise, but fairly complete explanation of the topic. Admittedly, it’s not always possible to give a complete answer in a single paragraph, but if you can get the main points across quickly, you’ll be more likely to get selected. After you’re featured, Google users will go to your page to learn more.

Win-Win for Everyone!

Featured Snippets are a useful part of the search function. They allow you to give clear information to visitors before they ever visit your website, reducing bounce-back and increasing the time people stay on your page. Now that a featured snippet will remove repeat results from the search page, it also gives you more chances to make the front page because you won’t need to compete with people who effectively clog up the entire first page of results with their website.

As web designers, we at Atlas Internet Marketing make it our job to know the best ways to take advantage of Google’s features to get you the results you want. With various tools and techniques, we make your pages organized and easy to read, not only making it more valuable to your listeners, but better structured for the feature snippet functions. Alongside other skills, such as review campaigns, we help boost the rankings of our clients. If you’re looking to improve your online presence, get in touch with us today! You’ll be glad you did!