Over the past few years, we have seen a number of changes to Google’s SERP. The search engine giant has worked to create a universal search results page that accurately targets the user intent, with the goal being that the user finds the SERP so helpful that they continue to return to the search engine whenever they have new queries.
Marketers and searchers alike have noted the increase in quick answers, featured snippets, and other formats, such as shopping and image results. As Google continues to increase the number of features that help it target the user intent, site owners themselves begin to see an increasing number of chances to get their pages highlighted on the SERP. Marketers who want to take advantage of these opportunities have turned to using structured markup to draw attention to different parts of their site and to make sure that the content is eligible for featured snippets when possible.
Here is what we wanted to discuss with our community regarding the recent developments when referencing these structured markups, user reactions to them, and why we believe they are beneficial for people to pursue.
Customer response to Google’s changes
As Google has increased the rate of inclusion of featured snippets and various on-page answers, understanding how customers respond to it has become an important concern.
Users appear to generally appreciate Google’s efforts to better target their user intent and include answers right on the SERP. The majority of users report that these features do help them find what they are looking for and improve their experience on the SERP.
The general appreciation of these featured snippet answers is also supported by changes in how customers engage with the SERP. More than half of the searches made on Google through a mobile browser no longer include another click to other organic content. In other words, customers are getting an increasing amount of information directly in the browser. For example, Google now answers simple questions and queries such as weather, contact information, definitions, and dates without having to click on a link.
As these featured snippet answers have changed user’s behaviors, marketers also need to consider how these answers will impact their strategies and ability to get out in front of the competition.
How brands can respond to this increase in rich answers
As brands consider the best methods for responding to these changes, they want to first articulate their goals for particular searches. As customers behaviors change, an increasing number do not click over to outside content. Therefore, brands will need to think about factors such as:
- What potential gains can the brand achieve from gaining a featured snippet, even if they do not have traffic come to their site from the search. Do not forget the importance of building trust, brand awareness, and brand reputation, all of which can come from having your page featured in a snippet.
- The potential losses the brand would experience if they did not optimize for the rich answer, but left the opportunity wide open for the competition to seize.
Given the potential build for brand reputation and to regularly outrank the competition, marketers should generally carefully consider the importance of optimizing for these featured snippet answers, including the addition of structured data to their page.
Google’s support of structured data
As Google appears to notice users’ appreciation of the featured snippet answers as well, they have made some movements to lend additional support to site owners who use structured markup.
Specifically, the search engine added to the Google Search Console a new report that provides users with additional information about their pages that have structured data for reviews or ratings. This report, known as the Review Enhancement Report, makes it easy for users to see any mistakes or corrections that need to be made.
If you spot an error through the report and correct it. You can also use the report to validate your changes, which will trigger Google to recrawl the content and note the corrected issue.
Users will also now have access to a Performance Report, which will specifically help you see the performance of the pages that have been marked up with ratings and reviews structured data. You can see the traffic and click through rates for these pages, as well as filtering and identifying the queries that bring your pages with the structured data the most traffic. This will make it easier to see how customers respond to the ratings and how they might help bring more leads to the site.
The ratings and reviews markup offers sites a considerable amount of value. As many as 90 percent of customers report that they will check online reviews before making a purchase. Featuring reviews and ratings with your brand online can easily boost credibility and encourage more people to click on your links.
Google’s support for this form of structured data also helps to indicate that the search engine appreciates these benefits offered to customers. The new report in the search console makes it easier for brands to ensure that they have the structured data set up correctly and ready to help customers.
Our recommendations for our community
With customers’ appreciation of featured snippet answers and Google’s additional support for them, we recommend that our community implement structured data whenever it would make sense for their site. Seizing opportunities on the SERP to build brand recognition and awareness through having featured snippets and other rich answers can help your organization thrive, even as search continues to change.
Google’s support for the review and ratings structured data may also indicate additional support and reports for more structured data options in the future.
The SERP and Google continue to change and mature with technology and user expectations. Organizations need to be cognizant of the importance of trust and reputation in buying behavior, and many of these changes provide opportunities for sites to capitalize on them. Brands that understand how to capture these windows will thrive as we see the continued importance of adaptation on the SERP.