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MozCon 2019: Britney Muller – Featured Snippets: Essentials to Know & How to Target


Continuing on with our Ignite Search MozCon blog series, where we discuss some of the most influential and informative presentations at the 2019 MozCon Digital Marketing conference in Seattle, Washington. In this week’s blog post we will be discussing Britney Muller’s presentation ‘Feature Snippet: Essential to Know & How to Target’

Who is Britney Muller

Britney Muller moved from being the founder of Pryde Marketing, a data driven medical marketing agency based in Denver, USA. She has now since moved to Moz as a Senior SEO Scientist. She enjoys leveraging data to help people strategically meeting their business goals and objectives online and offline.

Now For The Presentation Details

Britney began the presentation by identifying Prince Kay of the Milky Way – an awarded winner of the state-wide Minnesota Dairy Princess Program. She identified this specific individual because there may be many people who aren’t aware of whom she is. This is when Feature Snippets (FS) can provide us the answer.

Princess Kay of the Milky Way featured snippet example

Britney continued to explain that Google is getting better at address long tail queries, much different from Google’s Answer Box – a previous (and not very helpful) attempt to provide instant answers to user queries, as seen in the image below:

google answer box example

Google’s FS continues to grow and have provided users with a variety of FS. This includes:

  • Paragraph
  • List
  • Tables
  • Video
  • Accordion

There are even slight variations including both paragraphs and lists, as seen in the image below:

list and paragraph feature snippet combines

Feature Snippet Case Study

Before diving into what Britney discovered with regards to optimising for FS, she gracefully extends her gratitude to two key players that have assisted her case study:

eric hedekar & kshitij guatam profile shots

She then proceeded to identify the scope of her study, as seen below:

britney muller study scope

FS are found in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), and it is important to note there are no national SERPs. The SERPs will vary from location to location, and this is the reason why Britney has identified the method of browsing and the location.

She found that 23% of SERPs have FS, and since 2016 it has increased by 160%. From this, she found that Paragraph and List FS are the most common, as seen in the image below:

pie chart on types of feature snippets

In addition to this, she found that People Also Ask (PAA) boxes are on 93.8% of FS SERPs. And overall 65.54% of SERPs have PAA boxes.

Britney has also claimed that half of all FS are part of a carousel, as seen in the image below:

carousel feature snippet example

Although this may be true, it does not appear to have been configured in Australia, as seen through my attempt below:

australia feature snippet no carousel example 2australia feature snippet no carousel example 1

Furthermore, the higher your website ranks in the SERPs, the better your odds are of having a FS box. This can be enhance by considering start words such as ‘How to’ or paragraph triggers such as ‘does’, ‘cost’, ‘difference’, ‘between’, ‘average’ and many more.

So what should you be doing to secure a FS in the SERPs?

You Must Be Testing

testing feature snippet flow chart

Do FS Drive Traffic:

Before anything else, we must ask ourselves does having a FS drive traffic to your website. Britney explained that the answer to this question still remains inconclusive. However, she attempted to analyse traffic data from Google Search Console (GSC) in a systematic approach.

She split her data into two sets, one that contain keywords in the FS and one that doesn’t. This did not yield any clear insights, and so she proceeded to remove keywords until she was able to identify the average and the median position ranking was the same. This was not statistically significant.

This is what she found:

britney mullers results on feature snippet keyword comparison

She found on average around 40% less click would go to the keywords with no FS with no keywords. She stressed that there may be many other variables to consider and that we must remain sceptical of everything. She concluded that there is no way to determine FS will provide traffic.

Who’s Winning:

The next step is to identify who is current dominating the FS real estate. Britney identified the top 10 FS winners:

top 10 feature snippet sites

In addition, she found that informative websites, more specifically in the finance and education category:

bar graph on top feature snippet sites

Breaking Stuff:

‘You aren’t trying hard enough unless you’re breaking stuff!’

At this stage, Britney highly recommended that you pull elements of your FS to see what works and what doesn’t.

She was able to run a number of tests on a series of Moz blog posts

Test 1: The Advertiser’s Guide to Surviving Reddit.

These were her findings:

  • Removal of H4 heading: The FS remained
  • Extend content: The FS was removed
  • Extend content by one word: The FS was removed
  • Extend content by a period (.): The FS was removed
  • Add a heading: The FS remained but the description decreased to 158 words

Test 2: How Much Does Google Make?

These were her findings:

  • Changing from paragraphs to lists: FS was shortened
  • Changing from paragraphs to tables: The FS was removed
  • Update the content within the tables: The FS was removed
  • Update the content in original paragraph format: The FS was removed

Test 3: How (and Why) to Build a Booming Facebook Group.

These were her findings:

  • Adding a type to the text ‘Facebook’ to ‘Fcebook’: The FS remain with the typo

Actions To Take:

At this stage you will have a better understanding of your FS in the SERPs.

Here are 7 steps to take:

  1. Know which FS keywords you rank on page 1 in the SERPs
  2. Know the searchers intent
  3. Provide succinct answers
  4. Add TLDR to popular blog post and summarise
  5. Identify commonly asked questions
  6. Leverage Google’s NLP API
  7. Monitor FS

What We Can Take Away From This Presentation

As Google continues to provide searchers with answers to their queries (particularly with the rise of voice search and smart devices), FS will ensure your website secure a prime real estate in the SERPs. To get there, Britney has conducted numerous examples and tests that have provided us with insights to the intricacies of what makes and break FS. However, she highly recommends that we conduct our own tests and furthermore, ensure we focus on develop content for the people and not for Google.

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