Pubcon, Las Vegas, November 2017. Gary Illyes from Google mentioned making content Voice Assistant friendly as one of the most critical aspects for SEO in the years to come.
With the WordLift team, we’ve been committed to this for over a year and a half now. In fact, making your content voice friendly is not an end in itself. It is a mindset. A way of thinking about content architecture that goes beyond rankings.
And it all starts from a featured snippet!
The New Web Is Made Of Images Integrated In The Search Results
In the past decade the web was mainly Google, until social media came:
Today the web is way more fragmented. In fact, relevant content isn’t anymore on blogs around the internet. That is on social media too. In this scenario, images have an important role.
As pointed out by Rand Fishkin, there are two things to take into account. Number one, "Google Images shrunk, but almost entirely because Google web search took that traffic for themselves (dropping the tabs to image search, embedding more image results in the web SERPs, etc.)."
Number two "given that Google Images is sending out an even more significant portion of traffic (due to their recent changes on “view image”), investing in visual content that can perform there (and appear in a web search) feels like a no-brainer for content creators."
In short, images have become integrated more and more in the search results, also independently from the website they belong.
In other words, wherein the past Google would take most of the information for web searches from websites that ranked organically. Things have changed a lot now.
Indeed, Google gets information (be it text, images or videos) from several channels. That implies that having quality text content isn’t enough. You need something more.
The Six Pillars Of Modern Seo
In presentation by Michael King, Managing Director at iPullRank about the state of the SEO industry, he pointed out six things to be effective at modern SEO:
- Structured data
- Integrated search
However, I believe that to succeed in the “voice search era” - beside advanced SEO strategies - you need to change mindset.
The Featured Snippet Mindset
In the past decades when trying to get traffic from Google the main thought was “how do I get to the first page?”
While this reasoning was successful in the past. It is also what might make you lose in the coming years.
For instance, a few months back Google experimented with the so-called zero results. In short, for certain type of queries - Google offered just a snippet with an answer, and no other result:
Even though Google only rolled that out for limited queries, and then stopped it. That revealed in a way the future we might be moving toward; made of single results in our voice assistants.
With this scenario approaching, it is critical to target featured snippets, rather than just ranking on the first page of Google.
In short, the question that obsesses you should be “how do I get that featured snippet?”
Many might think “how can I target a featured snippet if I have a small blog?”
And the thing is, the size or authority of your blog matter relatively if you know how to find the right opportunities.
How To Find “Stealable” Featured Snippets
I want to show you a case study that I recently experimented on my blog and show you how you can steal featured snippets to large publishing outlets with a simple strategy.
Not long ago I was looking to write an editorial piece about Amazon cash conversion cycle. I knew I wanted to target a featured snippet: cash conversion cycle.
However, by looking at the search volume and by performing a quick search on Google, things weren’t looking good:
Can you notice anything strange in this snippet?
First, the long-tail keyword “cash conversion cycle” had over 18,100 and the featured snippet was already taken by Investopedia, one of the more authoritative websites on financial matters.
However, I noticed that snippet didn’t have any image. As we’ve seen in the first paragraph, images have become extremely important in Google’s search experience.
That is also why Google gets them from the web and integrates more and more in its featured snippets. In fact, often you might notice that a featured snippet has a text coming from a site and an image coming from another website.
In other words, when it comes to the featured snippets, Google doesn’t seem to be biased toward the blog from which the text is coming.
If Google’s algorithms might assess that for that featured snippet, an image from elsewhere might work fine. Google will take it.
That makes sense. In fact, Google’s algorithms might target relevant content. Thus, if providing relevant content means mixing text from a site and image from another site, Google won’t mind.
I had noticed this aspect on the featured snippet already a few months back. That opened up an opportunity. In fact, the content from Investopedia had a flaw. By a further look you can notice what the weakness is:
It has relevant content, but it lacked relevant infographics. That’s where the opportunity to take over that snippet arose!
The Story Of A Stolen Featured Snippet
After three months from the publication of the article on Amazon conversion cycle, I started to notice a growing number of search traffic toward my blog. I typed in the query “cash conversion cycle,” and that is what I saw:
I didn’t steal the whole snippet, but I managed to get in with the infographic from my blog!
When you click on that infographic, that will redirect you on the post it belongs. How did I get there?
On SEP I already covered the featured snippet framework.
It consists of a five-step formula identified with the WordLift team:
- Think like Wikipedia
- Use the entity-based content model
- Transform it in data that Google loves
- Link Outward
- Link Inward
If you follow this process, you can improve the chances of getting a featured snippet. Once you implement those steps and create the compelling infographic as a featured image for your blog post you need an additional step.
Redirect Traffic From The Image To The Blog Post
I learned this tactic from Andrea Volpini, WordLift’s CEO, which in one of our daily conversations pointed out how images needed to be tied out to the original post with a simple redirect.
In fact, what often happens, especially for WordPress websites is to generate a whole set of URLs for the images of your blog. If you don’t create a redirection toward the original blog post, the risk is to miss a whole lot of opportunities.
Instead, if for instance, you have Yoast plugin you can set up the redirection from the search appearance settings.
That’s it! You’re ready to put this in practice!
As we’ve seen throughout the article, the web has become a plethora of content that comes from several sources. Where a decade ago Google got most of its content from websites. Today social media and other channels might create a more fragmented experience.
However, Google aim is to provide relevant content to users’ searches. To perform at best this task Google grabs content (be it text, image or video) from several sources on the web and mixes it up.
In short, where the web is fragmented, Google uses that to its advantage to draw content from multiple sources and offer an integrated search experience to users. In this context, it becomes critical to change the mindset.
From wanting to rank on page one, you need to become obsessed about getting the featured snippet. To do that you need to learn how to look for “stealable opportunities.”
In fact, even when a large outlets gained a snippet, there might be a flaw in the way their content is structured. That flaw becomes your opportunity.
Once you implement the five-step framework for the featured snippet, it becomes way easier to get any featured snippet!