Google has been hard at work making their search results more user friendly. With the release of the hummingbird update and the heavy use of voice search via mobile, users are asking more questions while searching. For example, a few weeks ago I wanted to smoke a piece of salmon for the first time. So I googled “how to smoke salmon” this is what I got:
My initial thought was hey this is great and extremely useful. My second thought was won’t this kill the click through’s on the page for this website?
Breaking down a Google Featured Snippet
The technical term for these results are featured snippets. There are several different types of content that can be returned above an organic result. But Google defines a featured snippets as:
When a user asks a question in Google Search, we might show a summary of the answer in a special featured snippet block at the top of the search results page. This featured snippet block includes a summary of the answer, extracted from a webpage, plus a link to the page, the page title and URL.
The key to a featured snippet is the direct link to the source page. As a user Featured Snippets can be very handy especially when asking questions via google voice on your mobile phone. “How do I change my oil?” | “How do update windows?” | “How do I start a campfire?” etc.
A featured snippet is different than a “Direct Answer.” Direct answers are sourced from websites, but do not include the link below. Try searching for “what’s the weather in Boulder” You’ll get a seven day forecast from weather.com but no direct link to weather.com.
Are Featured Snippets worth your time?
Well obviously appearing at the top of google searches can’t be bad, right? But what about my original hypothesis that they could be keeping people away from your site. Google is in the business of selling ads. The more time they keep you looking at Google pages, the more likely you’ll eventually click on an ad. Clearly these Featured Snippets are just a ploy to keep you from leaving. It turns out that is not the case. The team over at Search Engine Land have a case study for the power of Featured Snippets for driving traffic to your site. The key take away:
Visibility from the featured snippet significantly improved the organic performance of this page, leading to a 516-percent increase in sessions.
Clearly my original thoughts on Featured Snippets were way off.
I think there are opportunities to rank well using a featured snippet. Anglers are constantly looking for answers to burning questions. “What’s the best rod for casting in the wind?” “How do you tie a clinch knot” “How do you clean your waders?” With a little bit of research and leg work you could take your page rankings to a whole new level. Good luck…