Rob Bucci, the CEO of keyword ranking tool STAT, kicked off the afternoon talks in auditorium 2 with a great talk which ran through the volatility of featured snippets.
- Walk through the history of featured snippets
- Discuss the volatility of featured snippets
- Cosy relationship between featured snippets and voice search
The Evolution of Featured Snippets
How many snippets are there today? 31% of 1 million keywords triggered a featured snippet.
Featured snippet rank – is it always at the top? Is it still the case?
In the most recent two runs we’ve noticed it’s not. 96% are in first place, 4% in second. Shopping boxes, current events, service home ads are meaning that featured snippets are sometimes in second place.
Featured snippet source position
You can rank in position 5 and still have a featured snippet – you can jump ahead of those ranking higher than you. 30% of featured snippets came from position 2.
A ‘People Also Ask’ Box takes second place 60% of the time.
Rank on the first page to help secure a snippet. 99% of snippets are sourced from ranks 2-10.
SERP features vs snippets
Rob then showed a graph which shows data of different features in the SERPs over the past couple of years.
Video results are growing and changing. Google is saying that video content is often a great way to answer the questions that people are searching for. You have to compete with visual real estate so optimise your thumb nails.
Featured snippets & PAA boxes are BFFs
Even if they’re not next to each other they always show up on the same SERP. So let PAAs inspire your snippet content. Use the relationship between the two features at your advantage,
Snippets are showing up on local SERPs
Snippets have nothing to do with local intent but 1% of featured snippets are now displaying local results. Therefore, we should try and find the link between local results and snippets.
Rob showed an example of ‘top casino’ which he searched from Vancouver. The SERPs showed a featured snippet and local results, showing that Google is considering that the user may be searching for either general information or looking for local results.
How often we see each type of snippet
There has been a decline in the amount of times that table snippets appear. They are generally not a great way to display information as they do not answer search queries.
With the advancements of voice search, tables are also a problem. Digital assistants don’t know how to read tables so Google have now changed tax with what they are ranking.
Featured snippet volatility
STAT looked at their 1 million keywords they were tracking. They took 233,000 that returned a snippet and tracked them for 9 days. They then created volatility scores to understand the volatility of the featured snippets. It is volatile if:
- It disappears from the SERPs
- It reappears after disappearing
- The url changes
68% showed 0 volatility, they appeared every day for 20 days with the same URL. But they’re are still 32% that have volatility.
The nature of volatility
With the above 3 points, which type of volatility is most likely? The url changing.
Only 8% disappeared and never came back. 62% came from a URL change.
99% of keyword returned up to 3 different urls. You should therefore track daily to surface your competitor urls.
Spotting volatility in the SERPs
Source position is the key factor that affects the volatility. The lower down your search position the more volatile your snippet will be. If you want a stable snippet, rank higher (!)
Featured snippets & voice search
Digital assistants translate spoken commands into written queries. Google can pop out a search query from spoken demand. The way machine learning works it means it is able to understand what you are saying.
Voice search example
‘How do I bake a bundt cake’ –> Google ‘How do I bake a bundt cake’
‘How long does will it take’ –> Google ‘How long does it take to take a bundt cake’
This example shows some confusion from Google. Google can maintain the subject the whole way through, but it still doesn’t have the ability to switch tracks and change the subject through a string of questions.
Google is expanding the types of queries that snippets appear for. Growth of featured snippets is happening for the long-tail, not the short-tail. ‘How’, ‘is’, ‘what’ etc. are triggering featured snippets more than anything.
Optimise your content for voice search for long tail queries. Research the types of snippets appearing for your queries and review the format.
- Number of snippets continues to trend upwards
- Google is using snippets more and more to answer needs of the searcher
- Snippets are a cornerstone for voice search
- Track the featured snippets in your query space