Here we will make a recap up of „Voice Search and Featured Snippets in SEO with Eric Enge“, carried out on 28th of November 2018. It’s a joint initiative of SEO agency Serpact and Еric Enge from Perficient Digital /former director of Stone Temple Consulting/.
Eric Enge is one of the veterans in the SEO sphere. He is highly erudite specialist who has a rich knowledge of SEO and who is constantly monitoring its development. He is an author of one of the first books for optimization for the search engines, namely The Art of SEO. Eric speaks in some of the top leading conferences in the world such as PubCon, Search Marketing Expo, SEMPO, State of Search. He is also regularly communicating with Google’s engineers.
Let’s start with the questions.
Dido Grigorov: Hello, Eric. Can you tell us more about the acquirement of Stone Temple by Perficient Digital.
Eric Enge: You want serious or funny facts? (Dido: Funny!) Ok, here are the funny facts. We often play the game foosball or table football (Editor: This game in Bulgaria is known as djagi) and I was a world champion but this was in 1984. In 1985 I was a national champion in USA. This was many years ago. When it comes to development I am mainly a technical person. At some moment in my career I decided I want to speak in front of people. Besides I like to read and analyze texts, learn new things and try to make things happen in a better way. On the 16th of July 2018 we were acquired by Perficient. It is a new travel. Now we offer new services too which we didn’t offer earlier in Stone Temple such as Paid Search, Analytics and others.
Nikola Minkov: Eric, can we optimize a certain website for Featured snippets because there are a lot of disputes concerning this topic.
Еric: This is a very interesting topic. There is a lot of information about it on the internet. But unfortunately a large part of it is untrue as it’s based on the emotional beliefs of the people about how featured snippets should work. The short answer is there is a way to increase the chances for your website to be shown as a featured snippet result in SERP. I will be happy to talk about this process and the things people usually miss.
The first thing you should do is to find the most common questions about your business and your activity. It’s about informational questions. (Editor: With the purpose of finding information, not navigation or order/buy). You won’t get a featured snippet in a commercial search. You should focus on an informational search. Then you should ask yourself the question what is the right way to create your content. Make content that is based not only on one question but on other questions related to it. Answer a direct question but also answer the question coming after it. This is the best content as it has the highest chance to be ranked as a featured snippet.
Dido: Can a page with really rich and informative content achieve a featured snippet?
Еric: Yes, I think so. For example, our first featured snippet was for a page that explains what is Noindex tag. There we explain in detail what is the Noindex tag but we also talk about everything related to Noindex because the user has more questions about it. In this way we improve the user experience too /UX/. This thing is often misused, hundreds of pages are created with 1000-words texts but no.. this is not right. Just create a wonderful informative experience, answer correctly and in the right way to the user.
Dido: In this case we can ask the people from the marketing department what are the most frequently asked questions and create our content strategy on this basis?
Еric: Exactly, this is a good source of information.
Nikola: Еric, then can we assume that an FAQ page can be ranked as a featured snippet? Or it must be something different?
Еric: The short answer is– yes, FAQ pages can be ranked as featured snippets, the long answer is – this rarely happens. We have analyzed more than 1.5 million results in Google. A total of 400 000 from them were featured snippets. FAQ pages were few. In fact Google wants all the information to be included in structured data. And indeed the webmasters are the people who mark the websites with structured data.
Featured snippets stand at the top of Google’s algorithm. They try to choose the best possible result from the first results in SERP. And this best result /or answer/ may not come from the first site. Featured snippets are truly a new algorithm in Google’s algorithm. We should ask ourselves why Google are investing so much effort in this. They are probably preparing for voice search where we get only one answer. If I can see in the web other answers, then in voice search I get only one answer. And if it doesn’t offer me the information I need, I won’t be happy.
Dido: When we are doing a mobile search we need a very quick answer as we don’t have time to wait.
Еric: Yes, this is a completely different case. If I am somewhere in the street holding a bag with one hand and searching some object, then my options are currently limited. So, I want one answer immediately.
Dido: Еric, do you think there is a universal recipe for featured snippets? What do you think about featured snippets in the vertical market niches?
Eric: There isn’t a unique recipe. It depends on the type of the business. The logic of the results for the specific niche should be traced. Also half of the featured snippets come from table.
Nikola: Elements like infographics, podcasts and similar can help us rank in the form of featured snippet?
Еric: Featured snippets are usually in text form. But if you have a transcription in your podcasts or description in your video in Youtube – this will be helpful. I have seen featured snippet with a text from Youtube video description.
Nikola: Еric, in a case study of yours you recommend the use of high quality images. Is that true?
Еric: Besides text in many requests Google shows images too. It’s even possible a text from one website and an image from another site to be shown. But if you want the image to work for you, it should be surrounded by a really good text.
Dido: Are you expecting that featured snippets will get new elements?
Eric: They can vary from one device to another and I think that Google can show many with images and video. But these things are in a starting phase and they have yet to develop.
Dido: Do you see an increase in the voice-results in SERP? What is the current state of voice search in USA?
Еric: The percent of voice search requests is relatively small /5 %/, but it’s growing quickly. There is an increase in the home devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo that are almost 20 %. There is a big number of devices around the world that are NOT personal computers, tablets or smartphones – these devices DON’T HAVE the usual keyboard. We already have around 43% of the people who aren’t afraid to use their phone for voice search in public place. Also more and more people start using voice search in theatres and cinemas. For example I use thermostat at home which we use for maintaining the room temperature. I manage it with voice commands. The tendency for the things is to make our lives easier.
Nikola: Eric, do you think that it’s possible to optimize /and how it can be optimized/ a specific website for voice search?
Еric: This depends on different things. For instance, if you are asking – How old is Barack Obama? – this is a public information and Google will give you a result. But if you search for other type of information, then Google will „obtain“ it from the websites with featured snippets. This is the first step. The second step is that Google Home Assistant can perform actions in Google app. For example if we ask „How to implement Noindex tag“ Google will return to you the following– Stone Temple has an app for this, do you want to hear about it?
Dido: Is there a difference if we are making a voice search for a short phrase or a long phrase and also if we are searching from a different device – phone, tablet, desktop computer?
Еric: Me and my colleague Mike made together a test. We used his computer and mine too to search for one and the same thing. The results were different. Devices from the same type, one and the same location, different results. Google regularly make tests.
Nikola: Eric, do you think that there is a connection between FCL /First Content Load/ and featured snippets for Google?
Еric: I think speed is important because we use our phones in such conditions when this is important. It’s important for Google to show the best results for the users as fast as possible. This is their business.
From the audience: What will happen when voice search results + ads appear?
Еric: You will get an option for order for commercial searches. This has not happened yet because the total percent of voice searches is still small.
From the audience: What rating you can give to voice recognition?
Eric: There is a room for improvement in this direction. Sometimes the devices make mistakes that are strange.
Dido: What is your prediction for the development of voice search?
Еric: Voice search is going to enter the SEO sphere and continue to develop together with Google’s operation with images. We will very soon see many new and interesting things. This is one big topic facing us.
Watch the video here: