SEO Cape Town: Featured Snippets Guide (Position Zero)

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SEO Cape Town: Featured Snippets Guide (Position Zero)

SEO Nerd On-Page, Uncategorised

seo cape town featured snippets zero ranking

In this SEO Cape Town: Featured Snippets Guide we teach you how to get your content into the featured snippets


We explain how featured snippets can rocket you to position one and how your credibility can rise simultaneously



SEO Cape Town: Featured Snippets Guide – Position Zero



We decided to put this SEO Cape Town Featured Snippets Guide together to help you get selected by Google for the featured snippets. Before we do that, let’s have a look at why this would benefit your business.


seo cape town featured snippets beginning



First of all, Google is switching over from a search engine to a discovery engine. This means that Google is using snippets to answer questions in the browser instead of historically where you would have to click through to the website. So it is logical that being featured at the top of the page highly beneficial.







The 5 main benefits of featured snippets or zero ranking are:



1. Featured in the zero ranking positions at the top of the page even if your actual site ranking is lower down on page 1 – an SEO rocket! Zero ranking steals clicks away from the top ranking result.



2, Enjoy a major reputation boost as the searchers automatically assume your site is personally recommended by Google as a trusted source of information.



3. If you or your target audience have android phones using Personal Assistant, Google pulls this information out to read answers to you.



4. Featured snippets tend to attract higher clickthrough rates when answers are truncated.



5. Snippets are here to say, the sooner you can begin working with them the sooner will learn what Google prefers and snippets, according to Danny Sulivan from Google, are here to stay.



Google is increasingly relying on featured snippets or answer in the search engine. If we look at a recent Study by SparkToro below we can see the trend first-hand. Too many SEOs this seems as if Google is moving away from showing websites and thus showing fewer websites in their results.


seo cape town future of snippets


At BrandSeed, and in this SEO Cape Town Guide, we are not quite convinced that this is the case as the websites that are chosen by Google have major increases in traffic and also their reputation improves as many users see featured snippets as Google’s own personal stamp of approval.



Let us begin by immediately jumping into the SEO Cape Town: Featured Snippet Guide list:



How to get featured snippets?


1. Identify questions that revolve around your business’s main service or product that people would enter into the search engine.



2. Qualify the more popular questions out of the list you brainstormed in the list above.



3. Choose one of your pages that are already ranking on page one or the page carrying the keyword that allows the homepage to rank for that query.



4. Test the search impressions with Google Keyword Planner to see which have the highest search volume and thus would be the most beneficial to your strategy.



3. Choose one of your pages that are already ranking on page one or the page carrying the keyword that allows the home page tor rank for that keyword



4. Format your content in the format Google tends to pick for questions in your niche.



5. Create content that succinctly answers the question but also elaborates in long-form. Think inverted pyramid!



6 Monitor human engagement metrics of the page that if featured in the featured snippets.



7. Improve upon your content, in order to remain in the featured snippets.



Now Google obviously relies on an algorithm to select the content for these snippets. In this SEO Cape Town: Featured Snippets Guide, we will look at how you could format content to allow for the best chance of being featured in the “featured snippets”.


Let’s take a deeper look and follow the SEO Cape Town Guide in more details … we break it down:


1. Identify questions that revolve around your business’ main service or product that people would enter into the search engine.



The best way to identify potential questions is to begin to brainstorm around the most common and simple iterations of the question. Simply enter the question as simply and succinctly as possible and look at what Google brings up in featured snippets and also include the auto-suggestions.



Google also offers “People Also Ask”. These questions will also offer snippets of website content to study. There is some correlation between People Also Aks and future snippets.



A great tool to help you think of questions is Answer The Public. The paid version even allows you to target certain regions to ensure questions relative to your geographic location. Simply enter into the topical query and Answer The Public will deliver a mind-map-like tree of questions that originate from Google’s autocomplete function in the search query bar.



2. Qualify the more popular questions out of the list you brainstormed in the list above.



There are a variety of tools but Google’s Keyword Planner is free and ultimately from Google itself. Check which of the search queries identified in step 1 above are searched for in higher volumes. The higher the number of impressions the better.



Now many of us use a few words in short form, far short than a properly formulated question. An example would be “seo cape town” instead of typing “Who is the best SEO in Cape Town? “. Create a table containing a column for the question brainstormed and another column for search queries that would be used in short-from instead of typing the whole question out.



3. Choose one of your pages that are already ranking on page one or the page carrying the keyword that allows the homepage to rank for that query.



Sometimes pages off the main homepage don’t rank themselves but Google displays the homepage URL instead but still because the page off the homepage was optimised. In this SEO Cape Town Guide, we believe you can choose these pages for featured snippet ranking.



Now if you are nowhere on the search engine results page or SERP you will have a lower chance for featuring in the featured snippets or ranking 0. Most content drawn into the featured snippets arises from website results featured on page one of the SERP.



Larry Kim pulled data on WordStream and found that 70% of his snippets or zero ranked content came from pages that were in position 1 to 3 in the SERP.



According to some studies from Bucci, of GetStat, there are cases when Google will go to the second page for featured snippet material. For the best chance, however, choose higher position results where possible. The top 10 results tend to be chosen for snippets


4. Format your content in the format Google tends to pick for questions in your niche.


Then there are 3 main formats that Google seems to prefer to for certain question search queries in terms of snippets. The formats are a paragraph, ordered list and table or tabular form. In this SEO Cape Town Guide, we look at all three.



You will increase your chance of being selected for a snippet if you match Google’s biased preference for how it displays content in your nice in the featured snippets. Think of the nature of the query, would it be better suited for a paragraph, ordered list or tabular form from a logical point of view? Think as if you were putting a report together.



At the time of writing, adding schema has not shown to have any effect on whether Google will preferably show your content as featured snippets. In fact, studies have shown that less snippets arise from pages with Schema mark up. It is a myth that using Schema at this stage will improve your chances of being selected for featured snippets.



It should be noted that we encourage you to mark up all content with Schema anyway as Google is still very positive about it and the in the future it may make a difference we believe. Google has invested heavily in education regarding Schema.



Don’t forget about images, the only catch is Google decides what image to display regardless. To optimise for catching someone’s attention, if shown in the snippet, you will just have to ensure all images are striking on the page.



Video content is also eligible to be shown in the featured snippets, optimise the video title as you would for question answer for paragraph snippets.



5. Create Content That both succinctly, and in long, form answers the question!



There is a principle that applies to all featured snippets and that is inverted pyramid approach to creating content much like how online journalists do. The idea is to summarise the content succinctly, especially answering a question in the first few lines. Then delve deeper or elaborate in longer form content on the same page.



There is no correct amount of words but we can reveal from a study conducted by SemRush in 2018, that for question answers the average 46 words or 272 characters and a maximum of 84 words and 370 characters. The idea is not to have giant paragraphs but still have the content long form to completely answer the question. (Also potentially increase dwell time, thereby qualifying the snippet – extra information from our in-depth SEO Cape Town Guide)


seo cape town snippet word count


If the topic most suits a list, ensure them lust is long enough to be truncated that way the user would have to click through to your site in order to see the full answer, positively affecting human engagement metrics. Also, you have traffic that can be converted!



If your chosen format is a table, then like the ordered list try and extend the table data with many rows in order for Google to truncate the results. Again we want the traffic to click through to your site. When users have to click through to see the rest of the truncated answer your humane engagement metrics climb, and as we discover under the next step, humane engagement seems to be at the heart of how Google qualifies whether to keep or swap out snippets for testing.


seo cape town snippet table min



Again most pages ranked on page one have longer form content, according to a study by Semrush and Brian Dean, that means at the very least there is an indirect link as most snippets come from top three search positions. Some SEOs also believe that longer form content itself affects the dwell time or human engagement of the article and thereby qualifies the snippet to Google as appropriate. We will come back to the human engagement side of things later on in this Featured Snippet SEO Cape Town Guide.



The level of reading was found by Search Analytics to be easier in content featured in snippets that in usual results. Based on the Study, Search Analytics suggest a Flesch-Kincaid reading level of 8th grade. So don’t try and be too smart, ensure the reading level would match the level of the weakest segment of the broadest category of the target audience that would be seeking the information. The more general the query, the more general the reading level should be.



6. Monitor human engagement metrics of the page that if featured in the featured snippets.



Google often changes snippets. Your content may come up and then an hour later it may not come up in the featured snippets for the exact same query. Google is applying an algorithm to validate whether the snippet it has selected is actually valid and valuable. Google uses CTR, dwell time and bounce rate to judge whether a certain snippet should remain or be swapped out.



Now Gary Illyes from Google denied that RankBrain looks at dwell time, CTR and bounce rates but many SEOs believe that Google does indeed closely look at these types of human engagement metrics. In fact in 2007, Marissa Mayer, who at the time was an employee 20 at Google, said that they did look at CTR when discussing the OneBox (the white cards Google uses for highlighted results including knowledge panel, country information, local or weather information) and how features like news, maps, and products would get promoted above the organic results into the OneBox. Her exact words were:



“We hold them to a very high click-through rate expectation and if they don’t meet that click-through rate, the OneBox gets turned off on that particular query. We have an automated system that looks at click-through rates per OneBox presentation per query.”



Think about it, why would Google offer these metrics to you in Google Analytics and Google Search Console for you to be aware of an act upon. Also, we know from Google announcements that Google does indeed rely heavily on CTR for determining Quality Score in its paid Google Ads model. We also know that Google has extended Google Search Console to show 3 very important. metrics if you a are logged in, these are impressions, clicks and search position. Google even displays this prominently where you can see them, have a look at ours below:



Also, Danny Sulivan, from Google, recently wrote in his article: Reintroduction to Google Featured Snippets, that:
“The vast majority of featured snippets work well, as we can tell from usage stats”. Now Danny was the founder of Search Engine Land before recently (2017) taking up his position as an undefined role working with Google. He knows exactly how that sentence would be construed. Human engagement is crucial!



Now the reason I mention this because many industry-leading SEOs believe that Snippets are tested and therefore maintained or swapped out for new better content from other sites by Google’s measuring of engagement metrics In this SEO Cape Town Guide, we believe the only way Google could test the efficiency of these snippets would be CTR and dwell time once licked through or indeed bounce rates.



If someone clicked through from a snippet to the relative website and then almost immediately hit the back button that would not be a good sign that the content being served was being seen as relative and valuable to the searcher’s original query. On the other hand, many click-throughs thereby lifting the CTR or click-through rate combined with a longer dwell time and lower bounce rate would logically hint towards the searcher finding an absorbing the content they were looking for to solve their query.



A note on backlinks according to the SEO Cape Town Featured Snippets Guide



Once your site features in the top 10 results and is not the first ranking site (as Google rarely takes the actual top ranking site at position one), your backlinks won’t influence your chances of being in the snippets. Rather should we say, according to a study by Ahrefs, Google does not take the page with the most authority.



This may suggest that succinct and formatting content in the format Google may prefer, may be the key in terms of what you can control on-page. If we eliminate backlinks then thee can only be on-page and human engagement factors that remain.



SEO Cape Town Guide: Featured Snippet Questions



According to a study by A.J. Ghergich conducted on 1.4 million websites, Google seems to favour pages that answer questions:



“How”(46.91%)and “have”(17.71%) seemed to outperform other questions for making it into the snippets.
“Which” (16.20%) was the leader by far for earning table snippets.

Questions did skew overall towards earning paragraph snippets.


seo cape town break down of snippets


SEO Cape Town Guide: Preposition Snippets



Prepositions seem to skew towards earning list snippets, overall.
“For”(11.38%) seemed to favour earning tables
“Like”(94.09%) seemed to result mostly ins earning paragraph snippets.





SEO Cape Town Guide: Comparison Snippets



As expected the comparison group of keywords would excel at earning tables due to the very comparing nature of tables.
“Price”(38.56%) was skewed to earning table snippets
“vs”(99%) ironically seemed to be unexpectantly towards earning paragraph snippets.




Other Key Takeaways from our in-depth SEO Cape Town Featured Snippets Guide:



According to a study by Ahrefs: 30.9% of featured snippets rank #1, The vast majority are from the other 9 positions in the top ten ranking sites! This study was supported by another study by Getstat that placed 70% of snippets from sources outside the 1st ranked position. In fact, other studies have suggested even fewer 1st-page rankings being featured in the snippets. It means if you are in. The top 10 you have a real chance of being featured.


There should also be no surprise that is the predominant source for snippets, and your chances against out ranking or zero ranking above Wikipedia in the featured snippets are slim-to-none. Rather concentrate on the lower hanging fruit of competitor sites. Google as always taken notice of Wikipedia in a special way.


According to SEMRush, they identified Snippet hubs in their data, where one page could rank for 200 -300 snippets, again pointing towards answering the question as completely as possible and in long-form showing value. This page could be seen as an internal snippet hub!



According to Getstat the following types of queries get featured more often:


DIY processes



seo cape town other queries snippets

Featured snippets tend to be triggered by long-tail search queries. The more descriptive the better. The great news is the more words used describe a query, the deeper the searcher is involved with realising the answer or solution and thus the higher the propensity to convert!



Look at transitional intent and not just question word related queries like “how” or “what”. Google is working towards showing snippets when the answer or snippet matches the intent of the search query rather than just a blatant question-answer scenario. In the same article from Google mentioned earlier, Danny Sullivan writes about Google working towards near-match snippets being shown to queries as often the user will discover the answer they were looking for.



Danny uses the example of a roman sundial in the article, where the question that triggered the snippet was how did roans tell the time at night? A sundial would have been impossible at night but Google did not have enough data in its knowledge graph to make this connection and defaulted to the closest version.



To be able to answer many questions in one article, you will need to organise your queries well. For instance, when planning content according to your content marketing model, you should arrange the category of the blog posts by a top-level generic keyword, the blog title by slightly more descriptive keywords relative to the top-level generic query and then h2 and h3 heading as more specific questions. This is the most key piece of the information featured in of the SEO Cape Town Featured Snippet Guide, so follow this advice closely to have multiple chances across variations of the query.



Google is heavily investing in featured snippets and they will only increase in the future. The idea is to become part of their knowledge graph and then earn great credibility along the way. Danny Sulivan explains that featured snippets are more about adding an additional format so that voice searches can be efficiently answered. Mobile has surpassed desktop traffic in 2015 already, the long form format does not suit voice mobile searches or question answers. To limit having to scroll long format Google has come up with a finger-tip resource, in other words:



“That’s because featured snippets aren’t meant as a sole source of information. They’re part of an overall set of results we provide, giving people information from a wide range of source” – Danny Sulivan, Google Search Liasion.



SEO Cape Town Greatest Myth:



Schema must be done to rank zero or feature in snippets.


According to tests it was actually seen as the opposite. Snippets at this stage have no positive correlation with being featured.


We do advise still implementing Schema for a future time when we can expect the structured data to be more impactful.