Izzie Smith: Driving 'Meaningful' Clicks With Enriched SERPs

Izzie Smith from Sixt rent a car, talks about taking advantage of SERP features. Check out her live recording, followed by her slides and her transcript at BrightonSEO April 2019, See below.

Izzie Smith's Transcript

Wow, hello everyone and good morning, I hope you're all not too hungover but, feel free to have a sleep, it's all good. Now, I've got a tonne of content to get through today. So, hopefully CTR-U ready? So today I'm going to be talking a lot about SERP features and how you can use those to your advantage but what exactly are those SERP features that I'm talking about? So, basically Google will take content, your content in a lot of times and then enrich them, and use that as a sort of user optimized way to provide meaning and to satisfy users intents on the SERPs. So, here's an example for cake, which is a very rich result because Google can't quite figure out what the intent is of a searcher.

Are SERP features bad for my SEO?

Well, like everything in SEO, it depends. Actually the last speaker to stand on this stage of Brighton SEO was Rand Fishkin, what an honour that I'm following there, and he gave a pretty sort of terrifying talk about the reality of these heavy search features. It's a great recap there by Deepcrawl, you should check out if you didn't see it. Basically, Rand’s data found that 72% of searches on mobile were resulting in no clicks and 34% on desktop. A more recent result, showed that in the UK and Europe, 55% of mobile searches resulted in no click, because of all these heavy SERP features that are satisfying the users directly on the SERPs. Pretty scary, right? Oh, don't worry, it's not all bad, but there are some things that you still need to consider in order to drive traffic, and win those clicks in today's SEO world. So, in 2019, basically you need to focus and spend effort on enriching those snippets that you have out there and your SERP feature presence to increase your click-through rate. You also need to focus on bringing the right kind of traffic, and that's very important to remember because, yes, you can go out there and target these heavy volume keywords and drive a lot of clicks. But, if they're not engaging with your site, if they're bouncing back to the SERPs, then that's a sort of it's not a very valuable visit for you either. Also, avoid time wasting on no click queries and that's why Rands data is so sort of compelling and sort of scary for us because, there's a lot of searches out there that can be satisfied directly on the SERPs. You should be building up a strong connected entity or entities of your brand. And that's why I'm here to help you today.

Let's talk about CTR as a ranking factor, which is a pretty hot topic, recently. I'm sure a lot of you saw, the "ask me anything" by Gary Illyes on reddit? And someone asked him "hey, lots of people are talking about rank brain and does it take into consideration things like click-through rate, time on site?" And it was quite a nice answer from Gary, he said dwell time CTR whatever Fishkin's new theory is, those are generally made up crap. Nice response. And I read this and I thought okay, there's a bit of miscommunication, maybe some misunderstanding and then someone found a Google document saying that when you click a link on Google, Google will consider this when they rank that search result in the future. Okay, what's going on and then this led to a lot of articles being posted like CTR is a ranking factor or CTR is not a ranking factor. Okay so, who should I listen to? And the answer is listen to yourself, yeah? Listen to me. Even if CTR isn't a ranking factor, you should still be spending your effort and time in improving it. If CTR was a ranking factor Google definitely wouldn't tell you because, it would be heavily manipulated and it would also be far too unreliable, I'll go into that later. It would rely on algorithm trust because even Google can't 100% trust that they made the right decision in ranking those results as well. Also clicks don't always equal searcher satisfaction. What is satisfaction anyway? Is it a short visit? Is a long visit? Is it a no click? Did someone come onto my site and then refine their query. Yes, so, that's why CTR is such, it's too noisy as a metric to consider for ranking. But basically, your job as an SEO should not stop at you know, ranking for those keywords. Your goal is to bring relevant users to your site and help them find what they're looking for, help them achieve that goal and when you bear this in mind, rather than CTR as a ranking factor, then you're going to be fine. So, satisfy the users intent don't just increase CTR for the sake of it. That's why my talk is called “driving meaningful clicks within rich SERPs” and not just driving clicks. So, bring the visitors that want to be on your website.

So, here's a number for ranking for guacamole recipe. I've chosen this because, it has a rich result telling you that it's less calories, it's less time to cook, and that's the right one for me. So rather than going on to the page and then bouncing back and having a short visit that's going to negatively impact my engagement metrics and bringing a more relevant session to my site. Also using enriched SERPs you can beat out rankers to the click as well if you're providing more content that's more useful and more relevant. Things like featured snippets, that get you to the top result, that's such great brand awareness for you and your company. Now first of all, there's so much that we can learn from looking directly on the SERPs because, Google have so much more data than you and they know what people are looking for and we can use that to our advantage. So first of all, let's look at these searcher intents in their purest forms. I'm going to zip through these because there's quite a few. So transactional so, I want to fulfil a specific action. I want to spend some cash money maybe, and the SERP feature that's going to be shown is usually heavily monetised like ads and shopping results but also you get knowledge graph results and feature snippets.

Answer: I'm looking for a direct response to a question and I need fast data and these are usually those sort of heavy rich knowledge cards provided by Google. These are my least favourite and these are the ones you should avoid because if there is no intent to actually click on the page then you're just going to lose.

Research: I'm looking for more information and that's why you see these features snippets. It's better than an answer intent because you know they can't be satisfied with one result they need to learn more about what they're looking for.

Local: Like maybe I'm looking for a specific service. I'm using geo modifiers and using locations and then we see great local knowledge panels and map packs.

Visual: Like I want inspiration for something. I'm going to use image search and then, we get a lot of videos and image packs also a lot of "how-to" keywords trigger things like.

Freshness and news is another intent. I'm looking for topics that are going on. Right now, and then we see these carousels these top stories.

Izzie: Brand so, someone's looking for your brand they want to navigate directly through that’s okay, but what I do with all this information basically you need to identify intense based on what Google considers their intent and learn from the search features that they are displaying not just by analysing those keywords use that research to optimize your content, This is great inspiration for you out there a tip. Don't forget to come by an intensive course someone might be looking for a transactional research and things like that.

Izzie: Next point, stop wasting time chasing those no click queries the ones that sort of fuel Rams terrifying data so pure answer intent like when was Jurassic park released for example, because even there are a lot of people searching for this. There was no chance that you're going to be present in that search feature and yet that's why we see this scary sort of data so in general when it comes to your keyword targeting strategies this year just forget those unsustainable pure answer in ten queries.

Izzie: Check if your intent can be directly met on the serve with this sort of query, if so, you can also avoid that. It's a waste of time and your resources and the mid and long tail has always been lucrative but now more than ever it's worth like a big focus in a big push.

Izzie: In order to find problems of your CTR you should also understand how Google and Google search console reports this data. So, something that's quite obvious that people sort of miss out on is that they sort of go down and across honest SERPs. So, there's number one, there's number two and position three which is a carousel it's been clustered as position three and if there are like seven more results on a SERP then, this position up here is going to be tracked as position 11 and now when you're looking at reporting data maybe, oh crap, I'm ranking number eleven but what can I do, but it's so prominent to be up there and that's where you want to go. So, once you know this, you can bear that in mind and really dig into the SERPs and how your results being displayed.

Izzie: “Aim to rank above the fold” as a benchmark because pure position ranking data is becoming more and more irrelevant. So, aim to get above this when the user first views the SERP next tip and be present and proud in those local intent SERP so those map packs it's one of the last best prominent organic features even when I'm not searching with geo modifiers or things like me and me of me, Google considers that this is a local intent query they're going to display these map packs so when I search for beer in Munich it's showing me pubs of course. When I was at six rent-a-car, we get into the local pack it has such a great benefit on our incoming traffic and revenue because we're jumping up from organic and we're getting directly there we have the social proof because of our reviews and just for this one URL increased so much in traffic and revenue so that's really something you should be focusing on as well if you have actual locations but yes it does require love so these are the type of steps that we stick to at six so of course, the obvious stuff claiming your Google my business listing and having consistent nap so name address, phone number and having those enriched profiles with all the content. You can grab like relevant images and useful business descriptions like where are you located and things like that. Also, if you have a connected deep URL and make sure that that page is strongly optimized also what's kind of cool that we discovered is that the amount of reviews had a good impact on getting into the local pack and the percentage of reviews responded to. So, make sure, that you're also dealing with any negative reviews or also just thanking the good ones as well also if you write for a Best Plus type queries. This is epic because, it's got that social proof there and that prominence and what I mean by this is if someone searches for Best Plus, a service, Google will then filter the local pack as four stars and above and then you're right up there and so you know work with your teams on really promoting the usage and driving of good ratings and reviews to get up there.

Izzie: Next step, structured data is your friend. Some of the time and structured data basically provides you know this great machine-readable context and meaning to all the wonderful data you have on your website so as a human we know what's going on with this data about this game fallout 3. We know the connections going on there and there's a lot of different ways of connecting entity data especially with the beautiful knowledge graph out there. But in order to, make it fully understandable by search engines they gave us schema.org and that's how it's looking and its beautiful format to provide that classification to search engines, that they can work with it also helps us build rich results. Now, Kenichi is going to talk about it later about how you can drive more rich snippets and rich results but, here is just a few samples of what is out there that you can use at six, we have really nice rich snippets that showed that our position one and on average the CTR is increased 85% than just plain normal snippets so it's really good uplift and driving your traffic but also it's also it brings more engaged traffic as well so what we found was that these people because they were seen like product rich snippets as well that they the bounce rate went down the time on site was increasing, they were spending more time and they were converting more. So, that's really good meaningful traffic that you should be aiming to drive.

Izzie: But the problem is the structured data it feeds the Google's knowledge graph. And this can be quite harmful because the more data you feed to Google, the more they can use it and display those rich cards, those really enhanced results. So, just an example of some knowledge panels out there so, place a thing like a food thing with nutritional information and for your company so, they also have data that the like grabbed from sources like Wikipedia. Make sure that you enrich your entities because if Google's going to steal data make sure they feel the right data so owning your entities and making sure that all of your nap information is correct and that it's aligned across. All these different sources and also using things like a local business organization structured data and for things like entity carousels which is what I call this thing if someone's looking for a type of service you want to be in this carousel and you do that providing that organization structured data and by enriching your entity. So, these are just some quick tips on how you can do that so Wikipedia listing parity with what's actually going on in your company claiming your knowledge panels using a Google search console account as well so sharp social profile,  Yeah, also it's quite obvious but providing a square logo with your actual name in the middle just helps you stand out because enterprise they just look like herb and it's kind of crappy next step target and wind feature snippets that have transactional intent Emily's going to be talking a lot about feature snippets and if it's after me so I'm just going to slip through but I think they're pretty sexy and if you aim for like research feature snippets with that transactional intent you can really drive traffic to your site there's going to convert but making them clickable and provides additional love so make sure that you're bulking out your feet just slip it less so that you get lists like more items tag on their use buzzwords and the headlines make sure that also getting that image placement there he's an example of Europe car stealing my image spot and just make sure your images are compressed and relevant also comparison queries are perfect for featured snippets because people are researching with transactional intent in mind.

Izzie: Here's another nice CTR curve so our rich snippet results vs. featured snippets. Even though, the rich result was better on position one in terms of CTR the feature snippet of course drive more CTR when it's lower down so when my organic ranking is lower and last year at BrightonSEO and I spoke about feature snippets on the other slides there if you want to hear more about my case studies from sixth. You can provide on-page optimizations that really enrich your standards tip. Let's not forget, that a lot of a route of our results also look like this and what we like to do also is work with our PPC teams on driving unseen what content they're using in the ad copy that increases, CTR as well so work with them, when you build your titles and provide your meta descriptions nice tip mobile image thumbnails are really on the rise. So, invest now, it's a great way to stand mobile, I'm talking about these beautiful things up here and there's a nice little chart here but from ranked range of how many SERPs in the US have these image thumbnails and it's seventy-five cent, which is crazy. Right so, you can really do this now. I'm driving and getting those image thumbnails so, check your queries in search console that drive I say drive a lot right I just realised and take a cruise with the highest mobile device impression share and you can use google dev tools with Google. So to see how they look in mobile or you can also use your device whatever's, fast and if they look crappy and sort of enrich that content with some nice relevant images that you think will enhance how you look in the mobile SERP and also, sometimes Google's taking the Open Graph image and for this mobile thumbnail. So, make sure that those are relevant and optimized as well the tip HTML tables are epic. I love them for feature snippet and for feature snippets optimization and for enhancing your classic snippets as well it's giving you additional two or three lines of circle estate and these days that's so valuable so, in this case just a basic table on the page has with me a future snippet and this wonderful structured description below it another tip site links are a great achievable snippet and enrichment. So, all you need to do to get these nice one-line site links on the SERPs is just by providing these jump links on your landing page. Making sure that they have sort of relevant named as well in the HTML. Also, this is so useful for things like long-form content pages and those holistic pages as well combine all those techniques together. Right so, incorporate these strategies and these SERP feature winning techniques into your content briefings and your page templates, then it's just sorts of like a one step process and going to keep achieving those beautiful enrichments organically. So too long didn't read I've run out of time guys, so I'm just going to zip through the next steps for you can take a photo I will be sharing the slides. Yeah, so incorporate all of these into your strategies and in terms of driving future that's how easy it is sometimes, Thank you.



Izzie Smith

Izzie Smith

Izzie, SEO Manager at Sixt rent a car. She is passionate about Structured Data, SERPs, tech SEO and user behavior. Award winning speaker and weekly podcaster.