It’s not a surprise to anybody that Google searches are always changing. The SEO strategies that used to work for ranking in the top positions, are different from today’s and we can only be 100% certain about one thing, change is the only constant.
Many marketers and e-commerce companies are blaming the SERPs updates for taking their visitors away and don’t want to create content optimised for the new SERPs snippets. Others are all about them. So, who is right?
What we know is that we’re all playing Googles game and you can’t win if you don’t know the rules. Thus, we’re going to explain what the ‘infamous’ zero-click searches are, what this involves, and how to optimise your website in 2022 (hopefully, you’ll change your mind about SERPs snippets).
Zero-click searches stand for all those queries users make that don’t land on any website. This is because the SERPs features in Google answer the question without needing to look further.
In fact, there is more to this than just answering a question quickly, it is about user experience. Google is a company before a search engine, they want to ensure that all of us are getting what we want. In today’s world, we value effectiveness in a very quick way. Our lives are complex and demanding, and we are always looking for information.
As Sundar Pichai said at Google I/O in 2019 (their annual developer’s conference): ‘we are moving from a company that helps you find answers to a company that helps you get things done’
This is a game-changer, and after a few years, we can confidently say that we know what he meant by that. Look at a Google search result page, for whatever query you’re searching for, there are many snippets to make your life easier. From, ‘2+2’, to ‘what is the capital of Canada’, or ‘how to make pancakes’, or even ‘what time is it in Madagascar now?’, you don’t need to click a single webpage.
We also wrote a great article on Google Knowledge Panels if you want to check it out as well.
So, the question many of us might have is…
Whether you love it or hate it, let’s face the reality, Google will keep improving the SERPs and pushing this kind of interface. Staying true to its purpose of organising the world’s information, it is only natural that it becomes more refined in the way it does so going forward. Think about it this way, when you show up for a featured snippet which gives away enough information that the user wouldn’t click through, this probably wouldn’t be a great user to your site.
If you’re creating valuable content, a much more qualified user would read through it and visit your website. For example, if you manage a shoe store and a user wants to know information for a specific model, they might find a great short answer in a featured snippet, but that probably won’t stop them from looking through your e-commerce and look for more information related to other products.
On the other hand, sometimes a user just wants a quick answer and that’s okay as well, so being able to appear in the featured snippet is a great branding strategy. Following the same example, a user might be looking for shoe stores in their area. What a great opportunity to appear in the results on Google maps, isn’t it? Needless to say, optimising your content to appear in a featured snippet will help you rank higher.
As you might notice by now, zero-click searches are centred on the user, thus, we all should be creating content in the right format. So, maybe asking if it is good or bad for your website is the wrong question, a more effective way to approach the subject would be how to take an intent or interest in a topic and create valuable content in the right format.
Now that we got out of the way of the polemic, let’s talk about the things that you should be doing to take advantage of Google snippets.
In today’s Google ecosystem, user intent is key. Different information will be shown by Google based on our intent. If you look for a broad topic, you might be looking for informational content, but if your query is more specific, Google will know better what kind of content you want to see and it will show you something more specific. So, you should have this in mind when doing keyword research.
A great way to find ideas on what users are searching for is to look into the PAA (people also ask) section on Google. Look at what people are asking about, what kind of information are they interested in? Can you identify any keywords? And ultimately, does it give you an idea of the content you can create?
Also, while doing the keyword search, don’t limit yourself to making decisions based on search volume. Look for the CTR of your pages or queries. In Google Search Console you can look into the clicks and impressions of a given query or a specific page. Make decisions based on that as well.
This new feature is one of the most effective ways to optimise your website for SEO, and it is still not very used, so it will be easier to rank higher in SERPs with this feature. It will give more informational results to the users and will be great for blog posts, FAQ (frequently asked questions), events, and products.
The implementation might get a bit technical, and some knowledge of HTML will be needed. Neil Patel wrote a great article on how to do it if you want to consider it.
We’ve been repeating it so many times that at this point it should be your mantra, create good quality content. Your SEO strategy should be based on creating content that is useful and specific to your target audience.
The biggest frustration for many e-commerce managers is that if the SERPs features give information to the user so they don’t need to click on the website, why create content anyway. As we discussed earlier, this is not the right perception. Instead, you should be focused on creating the right content in the right format. All these updates are for everybody’s own good.
Try creating long forms of content. Some deep pieces of information that can’t be summarised into a few words as a quick answer. So, maybe think about a different structure, and start by giving a general definition or answer to a question, then you can continue with the context and then the background. If you’re interested in optimising blog posts’ content, you should check an article we wrote about it.
Google is getting better at understanding different kinds of content. Now you can see some of the answers in the fragment of a video, and it’s starting to better recognise the spoken word content of podcasts.
In the long term, videos are expected to replace more snippets, thus videos are considered a better way to answer questions. They are more dynamic and can connect better with the user than written content. Also, the more channels you use to rank for your content, the more opportunities you’ll have.
Voice searches are getting more popular thanks to digital assistants such as Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Apple’s Siri. They are available on over 1 billion devices worldwide. The type of keywords that are more suitable for voice searches are questions. Specifically, content that is readable by voice assistants. So, think about how your content will sound by a voice assistant rather than a person.
Google’s updates are aimed to transform the search engine into a much more dynamic tool that will help us with many things, not just look for information. Ultimately, the SERPs snippets are here to stay and will continue to adapt to our needs more intuitively.
If you would like to create a competitive SEO marketing plan and want to rank higher in the SERPs and connect with your target audience on another level, contact our team. We offer digital marketing services such as SEO consulting, content marketing, and PPC. GA Agency can help you in every step of the process.