It’s getting more and more difficult to truly understand what it is that Google wants. Knowing how to give the search giant what it needs in order to rank your web pages up top is becoming a veritable black box.
Not so long ago, we were jumping through a barrage of hoops in the ongoing effort to give Google “quality content.” Problem was, they kept changing the rules of the game, leaving us perplexed, not knowing precisely what the subjective term “quality content” really meant. Still, our goal as website owners, writers, authors, and brands was to out-rank the competition and get the coveted click-through.
Today, Google wants its users to stay on Google. That means we’re not only competing against each other for top rankings, but we’re also competing against Google itself, making it even harder to get the click through to your website.
Google has been introducing numerous search engine results page (SERP) features. You’ve seen them, the answer box, featured snippets, local packs, twitter packs, sitelinks, news box, ‘according to’ box … the list continues to grow. We’ll go into more detail about each in a few minutes.
If you can’t beat ’em, join ‘em
Since Google controls what users see when they search, and since they want users to remain on Google rather than clicking through to a website, you’ll always see the features dominating the SERPs. That means even if you manage to achieve a first-place organic ranking for a highly competitive keyword phrase, you’re still buried beneath the many layers of Google Features.
So if you can’t beat ’em, you’ll have to join ’em, which means figuring out how to get featured in the features. So let’s talk about some of the most popular ones now.
Common Featured Snippets
Aggregated blocks of content displayed to the right of the main search results, Knowledge panels serve up a wealth of information about people, topics, businesses, etc. You’ll frequently see local listings here when searching local queries. The best way to get into the Knowledge Panel is to have an up to date Google My Business profile.
According Help Center for Google News, Google selects and ranks articles for the News Box based on multiple factors like originality, diversity, freshness, locations, authority and, of course, relevance.
Search Boxes: People Also Ask
Launched in 2015, Google added this dynamic loading box of additional query expansions, which is now live in both desktop and mobile search results.
First appearing in 2005, Google Sitelinks are sub-listings that appear under the first SERP result. They’re a great feature to increase click through rates, but unfortunately, you can’t control how they’ll appear. Worse, Google is pretty tight-lipped about how to manipulate them. What we do know is that Google will show up to six sitelinks, but in their own words, “We only show Sitelinks for results when we think they’ll be useful to the user.”
A rich featured snippet, the Answer Box was introduced in 2015 to give users instant answers to common questions. Since it arrived at the top of the SERP three years ago, it’s been a primary focus of SEOs everywhere. This is even more important this year, as voice search is quickly becoming more prevalent. More on the Answer box coming in next week’s post!
More Google Features…
Here are some more Google Features you’ve probably seen in your search travels:
We all want it — Total. SERP. Domination. It may not be easy, but it is doable. With a strategic plan of attack and some well-thought-out SEO man hours, this is what it looks like to dominate Google Featured Snippets:
Now, we can’t all be as popular as JT. But we can work hard at giving Google all the rich snippet data and relevant, quality content it needs to give us the best shot at claiming those coveted featured spots.
Stay tuned for more detailed information about how to rank in Google features snippet results … coming soon!