Google Search Features: Zeroing in on 2019!
STOP! Do not focus your long term efforts in earning position #1 in Google search. There are far more important metrics to focus on than rankings. In the long run your best bet is to dominate the search landscape by acquiring Googles search features.
It’s all about the search real estate these days!
You might be familiar with some of the search lingo such as “above the fold”, scroll depth, or CTR which means click through rate. But have you heard about featured snippets, zero position results, knowledge panels, or even search carousels?
These are the Ultimate Search Goals
I’ve found that way to often individuals get caught up in obtaining quick wins that they neglect optimizing for the ultimate goal, which are search features. One of the most commonly sought after search features are featured snippets. According to Google a featured snippet “is a normal search result, emphasized with a special layout”.
So What Makes Search Features So Important?
These little guys have more kick in them than you actually think. You’re probably thinking to yourself that these are obnoxious, in your face, results that users could give two shits about. Well…you might be right about them being obnoxious but they sure do know how to make an entrance.
One of the many strategies search marketers put in play today is their desire to be known as experts within their industry. The same strategy applies to their clients; to be the source of information pertaining to the subject matter at hand.
So if users are seeking answers to the many questions they have why not be their source of information?
Search Features Improve Brand Awareness
Currently I have yet to find any valuable source of data to share that would convey the level of impact search features have on brand. However, I feel this is because one does not need that level of insight to prove that the more presence one gets of their brand the better their reputation. All you must do is answer users questions better than the majority; and keep it concise.
Valuable + Concise = Improved Brand Awareness
The question-based search features that people use today are called “people also ask” questions.
Search Features Make for Good Impressions
There are a number of studies out there that illustrate the significance featured snippets have on search click share. One study from ahrefs discloses that featured snippets steal on average 8.6% of all first place clicks out of an average of 26% overall for page one. This doesn’t seem like much but think about the overall intent of a featured snippet; to answer the question directly.
So why would a user click on the result? They wouldn’t….unless that user found the information to be so valuable that they wanted additional insights.
I would argue that the 8.6% of users who actually click on a featured snippet are more susceptible to conversion than any other search listing on page. Featured snippets are the ultimate qualifier to a visitor from search results and should be treated, and weighted, with higher respect.
Search Features Can Improve Traffic and Revenue
There are many ways in which you can optimize for an improved CTR via a search feature. But one of the most common ways is in how you answer the question so that users feel the need to click through. Gaining search features are difficult in itself but trying to influence them to read more is even more difficult.
However, if done right the results can be fruitful. Not only can you influence performance by driving clicks to visitors but you can also impact bottom line conversions. As I mentioned before, clicks coming from search features are more likely to convert on your site simply because they are more qualified once they get there.
With Google displaying relevant content right in the SERP, many have expressed concern about a potential drop in CTR. Here, it’s not the case. In fact, this page’s CTR jumped from 2 percent to 8 percent in the period analyzed. Meanwhile, revenue from organic visitors landing on this page saw a 677-percent improvement. ~ Ben Goodsell
Growing Demand vs. Improved Distribution
Based on an ongoing study by Stone Temple Consulting and out of 1.4 million queries the number of featured snippets grew and dropped year-over-year from 2017 to 2018 by 11%. The year 2017 included many studies and A/B tests from Google which potentially resulted in a cleaner set of featured snippets in 2018. Either way the number of quality-driven featured snippets seem to continue gaining momentum.
Google is constantly reviewing, evaluating, and testing featured snippets all the time. Common sense tells me that they are trying to refine their results as well as introduce new features that influence better user experiences. Why invest so much time and energy into doing so you might ask?
Here is an example of a double featured snippet test identified by the search community.
One of the primary reasons why this is such a hot topic right now, and will continue to be going into the future, is with the rise of voice search. You know, “Ok Google” what’s the big deal? Much like the rise in interest over smart phone technology voice search has seen a similar trend.
This has a lot to do with improved accessibility of search via voice assistance and has evolved significantly with the ways in which consumers access this technology. Smart speakers are just one way in which consumers leverage voice assisted technology and it is stated that there are over 400 million devices leveraging this technology today.
It is predicted by ComScore that by the year 2020, 50% of all online searches will be performed with voice search.
Search Features: Putting It All Together
The search landscape is full of surprises and features. It is our goal as search marketers to acquire as much of the search real estate as possible with the idea of gaining visitors to our website. While we know search features can influence a brand in many different ways it is our job to leverage them effectively.
Search features are the primary drivers of voice search and are only expected to increase as search demand increases. Here is what a long term search marketing strategy looks like in 2019:
- Acquire featured snippet opportunities
- Improve featured snippet CTR
- Be the future of search
S what has been your experience with search features? Are they influencing your brand, traffic, or bottom line? Be sure to leave a comment below.
One thing is for sure, there is a lot of things happening on the Google front that suggest emphasis on search features. Keep an eye out for any opportunities and don’t forget to share your results.