Commexis Cast Daily – Feb. 01, 2018: Google’s Featured Snippets Explained

Today’s Commexis Cast discusses Google’s featured snippets: what they are, how they’re helpful, how your brand can get one, and the ways Google has messed them up in the past.

I don’t need to go in depth on why Googling a question, or asking your voice assistant, is a popular practice. People want information and they want it fast. One way Google has attempted to improve their search engine is by offering featured snippets towards the top of certain search queries. Simply put, feature snippets offer the what Google considers to be the best answer in an easy to read area, no clicking required. For mobile and voice search this can be invaluable. No one wants to try and open 10+ tabs on their phone, and without the visual cues for voice search a single “definitive” answer is best.

As you can see above, sometimes answers aren’t really objective. And Google’s answers in the past have been less than reputable or have been wrong.

In a blog post, Google finally decided to break down the thought process behind featured snippets, as well as offering some transparency behind why certain answers are chosen over others, they gray areas of subjective answers, as well as potential fixes to these problems.

I particularly enjoyed Google breaking down the thought process behind some of their snippet choices. For example, when searching “are reptiles good pets?” or “are reptiles bad pets?” Google believes that theoretically you’d receive the same answer. After all, both questions focus on the quality of reptiles as pets.  Practically, however, users do not.

Google’s response to this query is an intriguing look into their algorithm: “This happens because sometimes our systems favor content that’s strongly aligned with what was asked. A page arguing that reptiles are good pets seems the best match for people who search about them being good. Similarly, a page arguing that reptiles are bad pets seems the best match for people who search about them being bad. We’re exploring solutions to this challenge, including showing multiple responses.”

If your brand is looking to have content on a featured snippet, there’s no guaranteed way just yet. However, there are a couple ways Amy suggests you maximize your potential.

  1. Think of questions your audience wants answered.
  2. Create high-quality answers to those questions. Don’t be afraid to create a blog post with a brief answer first (which may help it appear in the search) followed by a more in-depth answers.
  3. Answer questions your competitors aren’t answering.
  4. It never hurts to have a Frequently Asked Questions page.

Google will be fine tuning the algorithm for featured snippets as time passes, and are actively taking feedback on certain feature snippets, so don’t be afraid to flag something that seems off.

Today’s cast: Phillip Brooks (Commexis Lead Strategist), Amy Leach (Commexis SEO Project Manager), and Matthew McGrorty (Commexis Videographer/Podcaster).

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