Tag Archives: optimized content

Is there a definitive way of ranking in Google’s featured snippets

Ranking in Google’s featured snippets is one of the best ways of getting a ton of traffic to your website, provided you get ranked for the right keywords and there is another link of yours appearing somewhere on the same page.

Nobody knows exactly why Google decides to rank your link. I have had some success getting some of my links ranked in this section; for example, look at this:

credible-content-showing-up-in-Google-snippets

This blog post contains lots of statistics and graphs to show how many more links Google has started including in the featured snippets section and how much more traffic these featured links draw from Google compared to those links that are not featured.

What are  upchart showing how many links are included in the featured snippets of Google

Google’s featured snippets

Just like any other content-based platform, Google is constantly coming up with ways to present relevant content attractively as well as purposefully.

Since more than 99% of the times people are asking questions and looking for useful information on Google, it makes sense that when Google feels that a particular answer satisfies a particular question, that answer is featured as a snippet.

As you can see in the above image (from my website), the featured snippet stands out compared to other links on the search results page.

You don’t get snippets all the time. Snippets are usually triggered by queries that contain, “what is”, “how is” or “how much”.

A relevant part of the text is picked from your link and featured in the snippets section. It is like, while analyzing the question asked by the search engine user, Google finds the traces of the right answer on your link, picks up the relevant portion, and then puts it in the featured snippets section.

Many webmasters believe that being featured in Google’s featured snippets can be counter-productive because then the search engine users have no reason to visit the link.

It depends. It can also increase the chances of the search engine users visiting your website more if they like the answer presented in the snippet. A big part of your answer appearing in the snippet also makes a strong impression on search engine users because they think that if Google is highlighting your answer then your link must have relevant information.

Is there a way you can get your links ranked and featured in the Google featured snippets section?

Over the years since Google started featuring links in this section various SEO experts and content marketers have been trying to figure out how to pinpoint the qualities or attributes that get your link featured in the section.

Ahref has done a comprehensive study on how many links are being featured in the snippets section on exactly what are the benefits of getting featured there.

The Ahref study has found that there is a decline in the number of clicks when your link is featured in the snippets section.

image chart showing that the CTR declines for the snippet-featured links

You can see in the above graphic that when a link is featured in the snippets section it gets approximately only 8.6% of clicks but when it is not featured it gets 19.6%.

It proves the apprehension of some webmasters that if your link is listed in the snippets section then people have less motivation to click it because they have already found the information they are looking for.

If I can remember my own search pattern I think I agree with this conclusion. Sometimes when I’m looking for an answer and when I find the answer in the featured snippets section, there is no reason for me to visit the actual link or, it prompts me to visit another link because I don’t seem to be able to find the right answer within the snippet.

But there is another finding in the same above Ahref link: the overall clicks on the remaining links appearing below the featured snippets link tend to fall down.

This might be because Google has become so efficient in digging out the appropriate answer and featuring it on the snippets section that after having viewed the snippet, users have no reason to check the other links.

On the other hand, detailed analysis of Google’s featured snippets on this link shows that if the link that appears in the featured section is followed by another link from your website, the CTR increases tremendously, sometimes by a whopping 516%.

How to make your content appear in the Google’s featured snippets section

Most of the SEO websites suggest that there is no definitive way of ranking in Google’s featured snippets section, but still, there is a pattern that emerges as more and more people study it.

which words in the query make it easier to rank in Google featured snippets section

Personally, I wouldn’t advise you to go crazy about getting your content featured in the snippets section. What matters the most is, what benefit you derive out of the various positions you get on the search engine result page.

Anyway, if you want to get featured there, you should take some clue from the way people ask questions on Quora.

You can follow the same pattern while writing content for your own website.

Create your blog posts, articles and web pages in QA form: ask a question in the title of your link and then provide an answer in the body text.

Remember that Google should be able to find a complete answer to the query submitted by the search engine user. The answer to this query can manifest in the form of

  • A small paragraph that can fit into a snippet
  • A bullet list of different parts of the answer
  • Data presented in a tabular format

As you can see in the featured snippet from my own website, it is a paragraph.

The text taken for the Google’s featured snippet can appear anywhere in your body text. Just make sure that the words contained within the question also appear within the text that you would like to present as a snippet candidate.

Of course, the usual conditions need to exist, such as, you should already be enjoying good or comparatively better search engine rankings. Your links should already be ranking for you to appear in Google’s featured snippets section.

So, if you want to publish content specifically for the featured snippets section, first focus on improving your general SEO

Anatomy of an optimized web page

An optimized web page is a lot more than what it looks to you when you load it into your browser. The web crawlers and search engine ranking algorithms see your web page in a totally different manner than how you and your prospective customers and clients see. Similarly, people on social networking websites view your web page differently than those who view your link on a search engine result page.

What is an optimized web page?

An optimized web page looks good to your human visitors as well as search engine crawlers. “Optimized” means it achieves its purpose both in terms of converting maximum number of visitors into paying customers and clients and getting higher search engine rankings on major search engines.

Have a look at this highly appealing and informative infographic sent to me by Kelsey Phillips of Surepayroll. This is where the infographic “The Anatomy of an Optimized Web Page” has been originally published.

Image of an infographic explaining the anatomy of an optimized web page

Click the image to enlarge

The main ingredients of an optimized web page are:

  • The web page title: Ideally it should be around 60 characters (according to the Yoast SEO plug-in recommendation). The web page title is different from the headline that you often see at the top of the body content. The web page title is the meta tag that lies within the <head> and </head> section of your web page. It can be different from your web page headline.
  • The web page description: This can be around 150 characters. Although these days in terms of SEO the web page description doesn’t count much but it helps to have a good description because the description appears on the search engine result pages and also when someone shares your link on Facebook or Twitter. Let it give a basic idea of what your web page represents and why people should visit and read it or view it. The web page description is also a meta tag and lies within the <head> and </head> section.
  • The headlines: You use headlines to highlight the main points of the copy of your web page. There should be one main headline within <h1> and </h1> in an ideally optimized web page. Then you can have multiple <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6> headlines.
  • Body text:
    Self-explanatory. While creating content for the body text, make sure that you use the right language and you stick to the main theme of your web page. Don’t try to cram everything into a single page. Divide different ideas within different sections. Strategically use the keywords and scatter them all over the body text.
  • Images:
    They can significantly enhance the quality of your web page. Don’t forget to include the alt text.

These are the basic ingredients that can help you create an optimized web page. The rest of the information you can view in the infographic above.

How to write content for humans but optimize for Google and other search engines

The greatest objective of your content should be that it appeals to your human readers and provides them the information they need in order to decide in your favour (that is, when they seek something that you provide). But for many businesses, search engine optimization takes precedence over the relevance of the content they are writing. How do you create a balance? How do you make sure that you write content for humans but you optimize it for Google and other search engines? How can you make both the parties happy?

SEO chart that explains the entire process of SEO content writing

Can you ignore your search engine rankings?

There are many online marketers and in fact, even content writers, who will tell you that don’t worry much about search engine rankings because if you have great content, your rankings should automatically improve. Ideally, yes, they should automatically improve. But do they? No. We don’t live in an ideal world. In the world we live, there are people who can manipulate their search engine rankings and search engine algorithms can be manipulated. Not just that, you are constantly facing competition. Someone or the other is going to get better of you no matter how hard you try.

Sure, it is the quality of your content and the regularity with which you publish your content that has the biggest impact on your search engine rankings but optimization also plays a very important role, so you cannot ignore your search engine rankings if qualified and targeted traffic matters to you.

In his recent blog post the renowned online marketer Neil Patel has explained how you can create content that is both human friendly as well as search engine optimized.

SEO content writing to improve your search engine rankings

Neil says that in order to search engine optimize your content you first of all need to understand what all helps you improve your SEO, and the first stress he makes is SEO copywriting. Many content writers and content marketers are of the opinion that every piece of content that you produce and publish must have the ability to “sell” something. I have used quotes because selling doesn’t always mean selling products and services. You can sell an idea. You can sell an opinion. You can sell an action. For example, if you want people to subscribe to your newsletter, for you THAT is selling. If you want people to download your e-book, then that is selling for you. If you want people to click your ads than that is selling for you. When you are making people do something, you are selling to those people. So even convincing content writing is like copywriting. How do you convince people? By writing logically and convincingly, of course. So this automatically makes your writing human-friendly.

How do you make your content writing SEO-friendly? By writing in the language used by people who are looking for solutions rather than products. By actually using the words and expressions people use in order to find what you have to offer.

A peculiar thing about search engines like Google is that their crawlers and ranking algorithms study bits of text at particular locations. For example, your page or blog title must contain your keywords. It helps if even your description contains some combination of your keywords. Then, the algorithm also studies your first paragraph and checks for the appearance of the main words. It also looks for your relevant words in the headings and subheadings that you use while writing your content. The bulleted list also gets some sort of importance and also does the text inside the hyperlinks.

These are small things that are often ignored by content writers but they can make a big difference. The above-linked blog post also contains some tools that can help you significantly improve your search engine rankings. Do check it out.

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Content is king when it comes to improving your search engine rankings

You cannot improve your search engine rankings without your content so it’s not just in the field of conversion where your content rules the roost, it is also your SEO. So if you want to improve your SEO, the primary focus should be your content.

This infographics at Brafton.com uses the recent Content Marketing Institute study to graphically explain that when it comes to integrating SEO with content marketing, 88% B2B businesses put more stress to it. 82% businesses have, one way or another, acquired new customers through their blogs and 67% have been able to generate more leads. Here are some illuminating content marketing statistics I have written about in one of my previous blog posts.

Statistically, 347 blog posts are published every minute every day and 2 million blogs are written every 24 hours but this is not the reason why content becomes the king of the Kingdom of SEO. It is because high-quality content, content that is engaging and valuable, enjoys higher search engine rankings compared to use less content created just to boost SEO.

Can you optimize your web content writing for search engines as well as users?

Is it possible to optimize your web content for search engines and at the same time for human users? This is a perennial question for people constantly worrying about how to write web content. No matter how much you deny, you need content from both ends of the spectrum – you want your content to convert and you also want your content to rank well on search engine result pages.

This blog post by Umair Qureshi rightly says that both can be achieved, and I personally believe it is not even a big deal as long as you stick to your topic. Nonetheless, he has included in the blog post a nice template that you can use in order to optimize your web content both for search engines as well as human visitors or users. This is how the template looks:

Template for creating search engine optimized as well as user-friendly web content

In the image he has taken an example of chocolate donuts from Mary’s bakery. He has shown how to create your headline and where strategically to use the key phrase “chocolate donuts” and its various combinations at strategic locations.

This is a standard procedure to write an optimized webpage without spamming the hell out of your content. The basic idea is to use your keyword or expression in such a manner that it is fairly represented from within your content without over-using it. You can also use its various versions. For example, if I want to optimize this particular blog post for “web content optimization” I can use various combinations such as the whole thing, then “web content”, then “content optimization” and then somewhere “web”, somewhere “content” and somewhere “optimization”. The above-mentioned template is a nice starting point. You can create your own by referring to this one.

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