SEO continues to be a huge challenge in 2022. Every marketer knows they need to optimize their content. But they can only guess at exactly what triggers Google’s algorithms to move their site to the top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page.) Your clients need that position because very few shoppers scroll to the second or third page of the SERP when they’re looking for a product or service. The tactics discussed in two recent columns on search marketing can help your clients rock SEO outcomes this year.
How to Rock SEO Outcomes
In the past few years, SEO experts have urged marketers to focus on scoring a featured snippet position in Google search results. To do that, content producers have devoted their attention to creating lists at the top of blog posts. Those bulleted lists often contain steps on how to complete a task. Another way to increase the chances of securing a feature snippet position is to include a definition at the top of the page.
As the new year begins, it’s worth asking whether SEO specialists should continue to emphasize featured snippets. After all, consumers have changed the way they search online since the pandemic began. More of us are using our phones to figure out which store is open and might have the product we want in stock at the moment we’re searching.
Fortunately, industry experts, such as Kevin Indig, who serves as Shopify’s director of SEO, track what’s been happening. In a recent article, Indig remarked, “Google Search is transforming into an app that gives users direct answers instead of sending them to websites where they have to look for answers.” And Google is accomplishing that task by showing both Featured Snippets and People Also Ask (PAA) boxes as part of the search results.
Indig studied data provided by RankRanger over a three-year period, ending in June 2021. The data showed the steep growth rate PAA boxes on SERPs. During the three-year study period, the number of times PAAs were present rose from 20% to over 50% of search results. At the same time, the number of featured snippet appearances dropped from 10% to 5% of search results. This trend held true for both desktop and mobile searches.
Should Your Clients Try to Rank for “People Also Ask?”
Since the PAA format is increasingly popular on the SERPs, it worth considering how much effort your clients should put into ranking for it. Remember that PAAs appear anywhere on the results pages, not near the top like featured snippets do.
Consider the average searcher. They’re often unsure they are asking questions in the way that will generate the best search results. When they see the PAA, will they click in the hopes of seeing more specific results? One study showed that “on average, only 3% of searchers interact with the PAA box.”
Unlike featured snippets, the many questions answered in a single PAA box link to different sites, so the chances of your clients getting a click from their presence in the box drops.
“Like featured snippets, answers to related questions in PAA boxes come in different formats,'” says Joshua Hardwick. The formats include bulleted lists, text or tables, among others. That range of formats might overwhelm or discourage searchers.
To have a chance of appearing in a PAA box, your clients need to understand the kinds of questions searchers are entering into Google. Their page must answer one of the key PAA questions, in the right format and with the right keywords. This effort can be “worthwhile for high-traffic or high-value pages.”
Check out the Digital Audit on AdMall by SalesFuel to understand the top organic search keywords, search results and traffic by category sections to show your client what’s popular and how they’re ranking. This analysis can lead to a deeper discussion on how you can help them get more from the featured snippet and PAA efforts.
You’ll need to guide your clients carefully to rock SEO outcomes. While Google offers this platform for free, it is also making money on the ads being displayed on the SERP and has a vested interest in keeping searching consumers focused on specific pages.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels
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