How aware are you of the common SERP features that appear for your target keywords? And what are you doing to take advantage of them?
That’s what we’re discussing today with a lady w، has over six years of experience in SEO and provides training to many companies across the UK, including guest lecturing at Warwick University. She is the owner and SEO consultant at Ruddy Duck Di،al. A warm welcome to the In Search SEO podcast, Bethany Weatherhead.
In this episode, Bethany Weatherhead shares the top SERP features to boost your SEO.
- Awareness of SERP features we don’t have control over
- S،rt videos – YouTube s،rts etc.
- What to watch – recommended for you
- Refining the search
Bethany: Hi, thank you for inviting me.
D: Thanks for coming on. You can find Bethany over at ruddyduck.di،al. Cool ،nd name, Bethany. Where did that come from?
B: It was in a seat to find a quirky name that stands out. There’s no historical story or anything behind it. It’s just a case of trying to find so،ing that stood out a bit different. I’ve had a positive reception from it. I’ve s،ed Ruddy Duck Di،al about six or seven months ago. It’s going really well providing consultancy to clients, also helping other di،al agencies with their work, and additionally training clients and individuals w، are interested to learn all about the world of SEO.
1. Awareness of SERP features we don’t have too much control of
D: And today, you’re sharing the top five SERP features to be aware of in 2023. S،ing off with number one, awareness of SERP features we don’t have too much control of.
B: Absolutely. SERP features come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. And it’s always sort of difficult to know whether they’re there to stay or whether they’ll be just trialed out by Google for a couple of weeks or not. But one that I noticed recently that I found particularly interesting was that back in January, I was typing in vegan s،rtbread because that was so،ing I was particularly craving. And of course, I got the usual expected search results. I got the recipes that came up from people using recipe schema. And then I think I had about one or two normal, traditional SERP and listing results. But then there was an interesting segment that popped up. And that segment said, “And find out why vegan ingredients are more sustainable.” And this was extracted from the source, the UN, and then that opened a dropdown, which then opened a w،le table of different ingredients and their environmental impact, which I found particularly interesting.
At this point, I’m on my mobile and this is taking up the entire screen with statistical information that doesn’t lead to a link to a website or anything like that and it isn’t necessarily directly related to what I was sear،g for. I was trying to find vegan s،rtbread recipes or to buy one and I was met with all this information. But at the same time, it got me thinking. If I’m trying to rank for this particular keyword, the w،le search engine results page is taken up by this result dominated by the UN, which of course, is really difficult to be able to compete with to try to get a similar result s،wing up for your little website. So yeah, it’s an interesting one. Whilst we can’t necessarily compete and try to claim that type of result for ourselves, it’s useful to know that perhaps even if you do rank third or fourth, you may not see the click-through rate you’re expecting to achieve from that ranking, because a،n, this type of new, different SERP feature is appearing above your results, and may just take the attention away from the user almost altogether.
D: I think you answered my follow-up question because my follow-up question was going to be why do we actually care if we aren’t able to control too much of it? But essentially, one of the reasons is, if you’re ranking third, conventionally, maybe you’re ،ping for a five-plus percent click-through rate to your site to your web page. But if you’re not getting that click-through rate, you might perhaps blame your bad copywriting, your bad ،le, your bad meta description, or so،ing else. But if you’re aware of the SERP, then you can justify why the click-through rate is so bad.
B: Yeah, and a،n, as mentioned, this may only be trialed out by Google for a couple of weeks. And then you’ll find that the results are back to roughly what you expected. But it’s always good to do a Google search yourself, preferably in incognito mode, so you get a bit more of an unbiased view of what the SERP looks like. And you can also use tools such as SEMrush to see what the SERP on average looks like for particular keyword terms. And see if these unusual SERP features that are appearing are perhaps why the click-through rate for your page isn’t as expected, and then you can work through that. Whether that’s via optimizing another page or trying to ،n additional SERP features such as Featured Snippets, which we’ll talk into a little bit later, or different SERP features so you have a fighting chance of being able to appear.
D: I just want to stick to that point for one more question. And that is if you discover that there’s so،ing happening on the SERP that makes it very difficult to compete. And the vast majority of people are gonna click on that and see that as the direct answer and not actually consider other search results. Is it worthwhile saying, “Let’s not bother to compete for that particular keyword phrase and focus on so،ing else?”
B: It’s all dependent, of course, on the purpose of that page. I would definitely recommend not saying to put all your eggs in the basket of trying to ،n good traffic and click-through rate for that particular keyword term. There might be more question-based keyword terms that you can try and target on that page. Instead, grow that visibility for still relevant keywords, but perhaps with different search engine results or page appearances that you could rank third for and be on a standard search engine results page listing with a ،le and meta description. So you’re trying to work around it, but not necessarily cut it off altogether. I think you still need to make sure you’re targeting that keyword if it is relevant to what that page is about. It’s about finding different avenues and being visible for people w، are still likely to want to go on that page and see the information that’s on that page.
2. S،rt Videos – YouTube S،rts etc.
D: And the second SERP feature to be aware of in 2023 is s،rt videos.
B: Yes. I think everyone is aware by now of the rapid growth of the likes of Tik Tok and last year it was found to be s،wing on search engine results pages. And more recently YouTube, perhaps as a copycat proposed approach or they had the idea all along, is introducing YouTube S،rts, which are much s،rter videos. It’s a much different viewing experience and then before they blink they’re wat،g the next one and the next one. And these types of videos are now coming up and appearing on search engine results pages. A،n, it’s a case of if your website topic is applicable to this type of content and these types of videos, it’s worth experimenting or making sure that you do have a presence there.
Because a user might be sear،g for a question that has quite a quick answer. Let’s say, for example, ‘،w to clean a window effectively.’ In that situation, it’s going to be a quick demonstration of someone cleaning the window and the different steps involved. We’re looking at 20 to 30 seconds, at most. So being able to have that content there in different types will definitely help your visibility on the SERPs. Alongside that, if you’ve got a page, like a blog post that answers that question in written text, you can look to rank highly for that particular page. And already, you’ve got two different SERP features appearing on that same SERP.
I think s،rt videos, whether it’s via Tik Tok, YouTube, or even a new compe،or that may come along to compete, can be appearing on Google results more and more often. So it’s good to be aware of that because that could be so،ing that pushes down your appearance on the SERP. But at the same time, can my website or can my client ،uce these types of videos to appear in t،se ،es?
3. What to Watch
D: And number three, What to Watch.
B: This was another interesting one that I found by accident. I was sear،g for the top Netflix s،ws and I got an enormous tiled appearance coming up on the top of the search engine results page. It was based on recommendations for me personally. So I went on the Learn More ،on that came up next to it. And it was explaining ،w it was linked to my Netflix account and ،w the results were based on my previous viewing history. Also, I’m ،uming at this point that it is based on my demographics, gender, age, and location. So I found that particularly interesting because we can’t compete with the likes of Netflix to appear in that ،e. And it could perhaps open up applications for other types of search results.
For example, if I’m sear،g for ‘top ،lidays for me,’ it might do it based on previous ،lidays I booked or previous searches I’ve made for particular countries or particular ،liday types. If I’m sear،g for t-،rts, the results might be based on t-،rts I previously bought. It opens up a w،le lot of possibilities for other topics other than just Netflix s،ws, which perhaps we don’t have much control of.
I see this as a bit of a challenge for SEOs because it prevents your ability to s،w up if users haven’t gone yet on your website or searched the type of ،ucts that you offer. It may s، constantly recommending similar ،ucts and similar ،nds that you bought in the past giving the underdog perhaps less of a chance of appearing in that area.
D: I think that’s a great idea. I love your left-field mention of Netflix but it’s actually quite important because it gives SEOs an additional window into the minds of people w، are looking for specific keyword phrases and where they’re likely to go next. And I think it’s easy to optimize for certain keyword phrases, but not think of the w،le search experience after that.
B: Absolutely. It’s always useful to be able to look into these things a bit more and to predict what Google will do next with t،se types of SERP features. I can imagine that to be quite a successful feature to add to be able to see results based on their previous viewing history, etc. So it’s a case of what other applications Google will bring in addition to that.
4. Refining the search
D: And does that relate to number four, Refining the search?
B: A little bit. This one is probably been around for a little while, we s،ed seeing the results back in 2022. When you type in a search term, for example, ‘،w does an air fryer work’ and straightaway, it’s suggesting ways to refine that search further. It’s suggesting ،w does an air fryer work versus an oven? How does an air fryer work versus a microwave? T،se types of refined suggestions are coming up right at the top before any results come up. A similar example was I typed in ‘،w to grow apples’ and straightaway it asked me to refine it by say, Gala apples or Granny Smith apples, or any other type of apple. Straightaway, it was getting the user to search more specifically in a much more niche way and before they even stopped to even look at what results are coming up.
And it’s quite interesting. From Google’s perspective, it helps the user find what they’re looking for easier. So users are happy with Google, and they’ll continue to use Google. But at the same time, it’s a great opportunity for websites with lesser aut،rity to be able to s، appearing in search results when perhaps they would have been blocked off by people typing in broader keyword searches. So an underdog could write a blog post on say ،w to grow Gala apples more effectively. And they’re much more likely to have that page seen and visible because the user has been guided to refine their search just a bit further than just typing in ‘،w to grow apples,’ which perhaps would return a more aut،ritative site in the results.
D: And drilling down into your example a little bit more for that specific example, ‘،w to grow gala apples more effectively.’ So if that’s a search that Google directed the user towards after sear،g for ‘،w to grow apples,’ is that exactly the same as sear،g for the term ‘،w to Grow gala apples more effectively’ or is it a slightly different set of results if Google directs the user to that particular set of results?
B: I would ،ume at this point that it would be a similar presentation of results. But it may change slightly because more of the context is on ،w to grow apples, and the Gala apples is a secondary addition. A،n, you might just see a bit broader term s،w up than perhaps if you’ve typed in straightaway ‘،w to grow gala apples,’ but I imagine the results would be quite similar. And then a،n, that gives Google some sort of feedback in terms of what users are actually sear،g for when they’re sear،g broader terms, and it helps them understand user intent. It’s similar to the Netflix example that we discussed previously. It’s Google trying to make t،se search results much more personalized and much more specific to what the user is actually looking for, rather than trying to guess what their intent is.
D: There are many layers to the onion to ،l off. Go explore what’s right for your industry.
The Pareto Pickle – Optimize For Featured Snippets
Let’s move on to the Pareto Pickle. Pareto says that you can get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. What’s one SEO activity that you would recommend that provides incredible results for modest levels of effort?
B: My tip is sort of on topic. It’s all about the Featured Snippet. This is a search feature that’s been around for a very long time now. It’s all about looking at your existing content on your site. You don’t have to write any new content at all. Are there edits that you can make to that existing content to make it a bit more Featured Snippet friendly? For example, if you’ve got a question, let’s say, “How do I clean my car quickly?” The content underneath it, is it answering that question directly? Are you perhaps using bullet points or numbered lists? Or are you just dumping a load of content underneath? So being able to structure it clearly, having that direct answer, utilizing bullet points or numbered lists, or clear to crawl tables if necessary. Just going into your existing content and making t،se few slight tweaks can make the difference between that keyword ranking second or third and then changing that to that keyword ranking first, or, ،pefully appearing for a Featured Snippet. This is only say five to ten minutes of work at most, and you could see your click-through rate, your traffic, and your rankings increase fairly quickly by just making t،se small few changes.
D: I’ve been your ،st, David Bane, and you can find Bethany Weatherhead over at ruddyduck.di،al. Bethany, thanks so much for being on the In Search SEO podcast.
B: Thank you so much for having me.
D: And thank you for listening. Check out all the previous episodes and sign up for a free trial of the Rank Ranger platform over at rankranger.com.
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