Part of my job as the content creator for Emphasize is to keep on top of how results are being displayed on the Google search page. Optimizing content to show up properly and provide the right sort of information when it’s found is an integral part of the website design services we provide.
Major Elements of a Google Search Results Page
The Google search results page is constantly evolving. In the infancy of the Internet, all it did was list the page title, a section of content from the source page, and the URL where it could be found. These days, a Google search results page contains a number of different elements that display in different ways depending on what you searched for.
You may have noticed that when you search for a specific product you are looking to purchase, at the top of the page Google will place about five boxes with images of what they think you are looking for, and links to where you can buy it. These results are sponsored, meaning the company has paid to occupy that piece of prime real estate.
In regularly listed results, Google also helpfully notes if a result is a paid advertisement by placing the word “Ad” in a green box next to the URL.
If you search for a something you require more information about that can’t be construed as a purchasable product, such as a planet (let’s pick Pluto), the results page will look entirely different. There shouldn’t be any paid results at the top of the page, and to the right will be a large box – called a knowledge graph – where Google places a bunch of information about what you searched for (quite often taken from a Wikipedia post). There will also be additional results in the knowledge graph with additional results indicating what people who searched for Pluto also subsequently tried to find. This is the “People also search for” segment of the knowledge graph, and after my search Google listed “Neptune,” “Uranus,” “Saturn,” and “Solar System.” There were also 85+ more options to choose from if I so desired.
Sometimes, Google will provide a series of boxes at the top of the page containing links to “Top stories” about your search subject. This will definitely happen when searching countries or cities, and they will generally contain links to the top news stories occurring in the region.
Getting into any of the Paid Ads, Knowledge Graph, or Top Stories sections is practically impossible unless you pay a lot of money, are Wikipedia, or just wrote a column for the Globe and Mail. For everyone else, the regular listings are where we end up. That’s ok, though, because Internet users are smart and know what they are looking for. They are just as likely to click on a regular search result as a paid one (in fact, sometimes more likely). If you are clear about what you are providing and your results meet their needs, there’s no reason why people shouldn’t be able to find you.
A featured snippet, also known as an “answer box,” appears at the top after a search, and is one of the Google search result page elements anyone can get into without paying money. They are great for drawing links. A featured snippet displays a chunk of copy from a page — much more than the regular 160-characters or so displayed below the page title in a regular results listing. According to Matthew Howells-Barby in his HubSpot article, How to Optimize Your Content for Google’s Featured Snippet Box, there is known formula for getting your page to consistently be pulled for a featured snippet, however there are ways to optimize your content to increase your chances of having Google’s search bots pick your site before your competitors.
First, featured snippets most commonly appear as a result of a query-based search phase, such as, “How to …” So I try to design content in a way that is always answering a question, which is actually just a smart way to write for the web.
In addition to always writing to answer pertinent questions about your company and the services it provides, other ways to optimize to appear in the featured snippet box include:
- Always include backlinks, however Barby points out that this is less important if you are already ranking on the first page of search results.
- Include search queries in headers, and place the content you want to appear in the snippet directly below this header. Keep that content to less than 60 words.
- Use bullets in your optimized content. Google loves bullets, and they look grat in a featured snippet.
Website Design and Optimization Services from Emphasize
There are lots more guidelines for creating great website content on our blog. And if you are looking for website design and content creation services for your Calgary business, Emphasize Design has the skills and talent you need. Contact us today!