Being new to the SEO scene, understanding the weird and wonderful ways that you can make your site stand out in the SERPs is a daunting task. Attending my first BrightonSEO was an eye-opening experience and have since returned with loads of new insight, ideas and ambition to start testing tactics on my clients.
One of the stand-out talks for me was by Izzi Smith, SEO Manager at SIXT Rent a Car who stylistically demonstrated to her attentive audience how she has successfully managed to deploy structured mark-up and receive impressive results.
Izzi couldn’t express her opinion on featured snippets enough and claims they’ve helped her to gain more traffic, more conversions, heightened brand awareness and generally just loves them.
There is no guarantee you’ll make the allusive rich snippet appear in the SERP or that it will gain you click throughs but Izzi’ gave a detailed set of recommendations in her talk to help you appear and rank over older and stronger domains.
My Key Takeaways from the Talk
We all have seen the benefits of structured data and how it can improve our client’s appearance in the SERPs but the continued concern around query based structured data is, once the user sees the answer to their question, why should they click through? Gaining high rankings is great but without the traffic to your landing pages, your efforts are wasted. How do you make the most out of rich snippets, gain rankings and also the traffic?
Identify the Right Questions
Query-based structured data is becoming more important than ever for SEO. Ensuring you have the right structured data in place for the chosen answer to your user’s queries is key. Evaluating your existing content around query terms such “the best”, “the worst” and “how, why, what and when” and estimating its potential rankings is valuable exercise worth exploring. Additionally, properly understanding what your customers are asking of your business and industry is also an invaluable avenue to explore as you can guarantee they’re typing these same queries into google. Therefore, checking with your sales and customer service teams what the most asked questions are be a rich source of information. Also committing time to ask the public, surveying your client’s customers and seeing what people are saying about your brand on forums is a great way of research keywords for structured data.
Assessing Query Intent and Whether you’re Attracting the Right Traffic?
It’s important to understand the value of different query intents. Navigational queries certainly attract a lot of search volume but don’t bring much value to your site; are people looking to spend money or request your services with these queries? No. But, informational and transactional queries will; these are snippet gold. Finding a hybrid between informational and transactional queries will help drive more click through to your page and conversions. Otherwise, the user finds their answer to your question and moves on to their next search. Which obviously is not ideal! Focus on keywords with click through intent and get users on your site. Don’t give away the recipe.
Make Sure you have Clear Headers and Sub Sections
Should your landing pages be holistic or specific? Izzi says you should go holistic if you can cluster similar topics together, and utilise the existing page strength but make sure you have clear headers and subsections.
When should you go specific? If there is reasonable search volume, your topic can be explained in detail and the pages fives potential for building further related content. Don’t make specific pages for one-line answers! Ask yourself the question: is your F-Snippet worthy content? Is it factual with supporting data and sources? Is it written by a human? Make sure these feel as natural as possible.
Where possible, bulk out your lists. The last thing you want is the finished tag appearing at the bottom of your snippet, otherwise the user has no reason to click through to your pages. Ensure your lists are longer than seven answers long, this means you’ll get “more items” tag featured at the bottom which gives the user a reason to click through.
Make your Content Grabbable
Demonstrate to your user, and Google, that you’re an expert. Effectively show your expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (EAT) ensuring you provide supporting data, sources, additional useful content and your pages contain referring links from trusted sources.
Your pages should have a header and introduction, containing a useful visual aid and provide fantastic additional content, whilst making sure your question keyword is concisely answered within the structured data mark-up.
What Makes the Perfect Featured Snippet?
Providing the perfect content will give you the ideal Featured Snippet (hopefully). Just remember that the content you provide needs to be factual and having supporting data will help you into becoming the number one Featured Snippet for that search query.
Remember to give your content structure, each paragraph query should be between 40 to 60 words, construct tables for data and when possible, bulk out your lists so at the bottom of the snippet it says “More Items” as it will give the user more of an incentive to click through to your website.
How Else can you Optimise a Featured Snippet?
As well as making sure the content is perfect, you need to ensure that the image you use has been optimised for your featured snippet, if you don’t use an optimised image then you run the risk of having a competitor take the featured image spot. In order to optimise your image, follow these three simple rules:
- Ensure your image is below 600px
- Make sure your image sticks to a 4:3 ratio
- Compress your image so it’s ready for web
Properly Highlight your Data
Finally, Izzi recommended to check out loads of different types of Schema Mark-up such as: ItemList, HowToSection, HowToStep, QAPage and Answer. When writing your schema mark-up make sure your images are optimised (last thing you want is rich snippet displaying your competitors’ image).
Your Featured Snippet Still isn’t Showing up in SERPs, What Else Can you do?
If you’ve answered a question on your page and your paragraph still isn’t being picked to feature as a Featured Snippet then give Google a list of Featured Snippets to pick from, so on your page why not construct a paragraph, a list and a table. This increases your chances of being featured.
What Main Points can you Take Away from the Talk?
- Create user-focused content that serves a need
- Don’t just do keyword research, look deep into the questions being asked and gain an understanding of what your customers are really searching for.
- Create lists, paragraphs, tables and a Q&A section to help boost your content
- Ensure your content is “grabbable” to Google by using structured content and Schema Mark-Up
Izzi Ended her presentation by showing all the great results she received with SIXT Rent a Car.