Have you come across the ‘People Also Ask’ section in Google Search results? This section contains a list of questions and answers around your search query to view without having to visit the corresponding site from where the answer was sourced. This is known as the ‘featured snippet’ option. Even in the face of concerns from marketers (e.g. their grouse on users not visiting the site because of availability of answer on the results page itself, thereby decreasing traffic), it is now trying to educate users on the rationale behind featured snippets.
Why the need for featured snippets?
Two key reasons prompted the introduction of featured snippets four years ago – the increasing dominance of mobile searches and the rise of voice-based virtual assistants. The featured snippets deliver immense value for both these use cases. Google doesn’t intend it to be the only source of information though. That’s why regular searches too appear alongside featured snippets.
Now Google’s customer education initiative has resulted in a comprehensive blog post on the various aspects of his feature. The blog covers subjects like:
1 – What are featured snippets?
2 – How do the featured snippets work on different devices and screen sizes?
3 – How they interact with voice services, desktop or mobile?
Interestingly, the featured snippet consists not only of text content but also shows up video playback on a particular topic. For Google Home device users this can be a great experience in the absence of a way to see the text.
As a part of the continuously evolving featured snippet ecosystem, Google has a few plans.
1 – It may show a ‘more results’ link under the snippet box to allow users to find out more about their specific search query
2 – It may show important tags to allow for filtering of responses and narrow down search results for improved accuracy
3 – It may even start the results page with more than one snippet box right away.
Whichever the approach (or blend of approaches), it is clear that the mobile user and voice-based virtual assistant user is at the forefront of this section.
What about the search traffic?
Initially, marketers were wary about featured snippet. They felt that since users got their answers in this section itself, they will not visit the site at all, thus, hampering traffic flow from the search page to their site.
However, with time, it was found that featured snippet had a reverse effect – i.e. it led more and more traffic to the site. The reason for this is simple. Only relevant and most meaningful content is displayed against a query on this box. This means that the content and keyword was well-articulated. This, in turn, led to a natural curiosity among users about what other exciting information can be learnt from the site.
Google too played a part in boosting site traffic by providing the url of the site from which the content for building the feared snippet was sourced. This led to ease of site visit to the brand website and hence improved conversions.
Do let us know how featured snippets have improved your search marketing experience. We would love to hear from you.