Why You Need to Include SERP Features in Your SEO Strategy and How to Win Featured Snippets

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change” – Albert Einstein

Einstein’s words couldn’t be more true of SEO.

Let’s face it…

The Google SERPs (search engine results pages) have changed. As SEO’s we need to change with it.

Yes, long gone are the ten blue links.

The SERPs are now filled with SERP features. This can be anything from: 

  • Google Ads
  • Product Carousels
  • Local Packs

and more.

These changes to the SERPs have posed a difficulty for many SEOs. SEO is now no longer primarily about rankings.

In other words, a few years ago, the goal of every SEO was to rank their content at the top of Google. In those days things were simple. The top-ranking URL got the majority of the traffic.

Today there is another metric that is just as important as rankings, maybe even more so.

Visibility.

In this post, I’ll help you wrap your head around visibility and give you some simple steps that will easily help boost your visibility and traffic potential. I’ll also introduce you to Rank Ranger and show you how you can use their rank tracker software to make the process so much easier to implement. 

What is Visibility?

Like it sounds, visibility is a measure of how visible your URL is to Google searchers.

Now, the traditional visibility metric that SEO tools use has become simply outdated. Traditional visibility took search volume and rank into account.

But…

With today’s SERPs there is far more to take into account. For instance, on many SERPs, SERP features push organic rankings below the fold.


For instance, in the screenshot above, there are no traditional organic results above the fold.

What’s more, if you do have blue links above the fold, many SERP features have images in them. This means they visually steal attention away from your links.

What should we as SEOs do?

Well, as far as I’m concerned, if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.

SERP Features Your Path to Increased SERP Visibility

Rather than lament over how things were once better, I suggest taking control and embracing SERP feature visibility into your SEO strategy.

Now, before trying to win a Featured Snippet or People Also Ask Box, you first need to find an opportunity where Google is likely to show the type of feature you are going after.

Don’t skip this step or you are likely to spin your wheels chasing opportunities that don’t exist.

Google Search Console

If you don’t have rank tracking software, you can find visibility opportunities in Search Console. 

To do this look at the Queries report.

Look for queries where you are at the top of Google, get many impressions but have a really low click-through rate.

As you can see in the screenshot above, the page is ranking in position one and had 4648 impressions over a period of three months. What’s interesting to note is the URL only gets a 0.5% CTR, bringing a total of only 23 clicks. Keep in mind that it’s ranking in position one!

Pretty dismal.

Now when you see puzzling situations like this, in all likelihood you have stumbled across a situation where SERP features are stealing visibility away from your URL.

The next step is to go to the SERP and see what’s causing the low CTR

Is it a Featured Snippet? Is it Google Ads? Video box?

Once you’ve figured it out, it’s time to plan your strategy.

Now, if you have a rank tracker you can easily speed this process up.

Rank Tracker SERP Feature Data 

I’ll be showing you how to do this in the Rank Ranger Rank Tracker dashboard. 

As you can see in the screenshot above, there is a SERP Icons column. Each icon represents a SERP feature that’s currently on the SERP.

What’s more, you can see a snapshot of the SERP by clicking the SERP Snapshot icon on the right. This way you can see what SERP features are on the page without having to go onto Google.

What’s more, you can also get competitive SERP feature data.

Just check out the Rank Ranger SERP Feature Monitor.

Let me show you what it can do for you.

SERP Feature Monitor

The point of this tool is to show you how competitive a SERP feature is. Now, before you get started with this tool, you have to know that it will only give you data for keywords you are tracking.

Also, it takes a few days to get the data you need. I recommend tracking your target keyword and waiting 30 days.

Once you’ve done that, go to the SERP Feature Monitor and choose the SERP feature you want to analyze in the dropdown menu. Once you’ve done that, select your keyword and hit search.


This will give you some great data.

As you can see in the screenshot above, the SERP Feature Monitor is showing Featured Snippet data for 30 days for the query ‘poker sites us’. 

The broken line at the top of the graph is showing three colours. Each colour represents a different URL. The sites are:

  • top10pokersites.net
  • cardplayer.com
  • prnewswire.com

In other words, when the red line is showing, prnewswire.com appeared in the snippet. When the green line is showing cardplayer.com appeared in the snippet. When the blue line is showing, top10pokersites.net appeared in the snippet.

You’ll notice that for a large percentage of the time, no Featured Snippet appeared at all.

What this tells you is Google is not entirely happy with the Featured Snippet content. If Google was happy with it, there would be only one URL showing and it would show consistently. 

For instance, in the screenshot below, you can see that the site pokernews.com occupied the Featured Snippet for the entire 30 days.

Now, when you find a Featured Snippet that Google isn’t happy with, you know you’ve found an opportunity.

In other words, you should be able to create something that Google considers the perfect Featured Snippet content. If you do that, Google will feature your URL in the Featured Snippet spot day after day.

Once you’ve done some competitive analysis with the SERP Feature Monitor, it’s time to create a SERP feature strategy that will boot your competitor out of the top spot and have your URL featured.

SERP Feature Strategy

Okay, you’ve found a SERP feature that you want to set your sites on, now what?

In order to create a solid SERP feature strategy, you need to understand what’s currently ranking.

SERP Analysis – Understand the Existing SERP Feature

At this stage, you should simply take a look at what is currently ranking by typing your query into Google and taking a look at what’s there.

So let’s look at the Featured Snippet for the term ‘poker sites us’.


As you can see in the screenshot above, Google is showing a bulleted list.

In order to win this snippet, you should create something with the same structure. To understand the structure of the snippet, simply compare what is showing in the Featured Snippet to the page itself.

Usually, with a bulleted list, there is a line explaining what the snippet is showing.

As you can see in the screenshot above, Google is presenting ‘My list of the best US poker sites which I consider to be the best rooms to play in 2021

Google usually does a great job of finding text that describes the list. I’ve seen this text in different places. Sometimes it’s featured in a header (H2, H3, etc). 

Other times it’s featured in the body text right next to the list items.

To see where Google is getting this text from, click through to the content and look for the text. Once you find it, right-click and select Inspect.


Once you’ve done that, scroll through the code until the introductory text becomes highlighted.

By doing that you can easily see the code.


As you can see in the screenshot above, Google is getting the text from an h3.

You can do the same thing for the list items.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the list items are coming from an ordered list.

This means… 

when you structure your page, you should create a similar structure.

In other words, first, create some text introducing the list and then create an ordered list.

Now, the reason to go through this process is to understand where Google is getting the snippet content from. This way you have a good understanding of how you should format your content.

Taking a Step Back

In this post, you learned that visibility is just as important as rankings, maybe even more so.

In order to understand visibility, we discussed how visibility is made up of a combination of above / below the fold rankings and how your URL compares visually to the various SERP features on the SERP.

This means not optimizing for SERP features could result in a high ranking that has a dismally low CTR.

In order to do that, I showed you how I would go about finding SERP feature opportunities and how I would go about analyzing them in order to create a solid SERP feature strategy.

This got us into using a combination of the SERP Feature Monitor and SERP analysis to get to the bottom of:

  • How to structure the snippet
  • What user intent to optimise for

Now it’s your turn. How are you going to implement these strategies in your SEO? 

Need help with your SEO or digital marketing efforts? We have lots of plans and courses available. Get in touch to find out how we can be of assistance!

 

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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