Because no two sets of search results are the same, any clickthrough study becomes much less reliable
They have a lot of options when it comes to optimizing their search snippets, as it turns out!
A standard search snippet's anatomy
The standard Google search snippet has evolved over time, but all of the essential elements remain:
When deciding which image to display next to your URL, Google will look at your site's favicon. This indicates that you have complete control over the search snippet.
Instead of simply showing the page's URL, Google now tries to show the meaningful URL path (almost like a breadcrumb). This consists of the following:
Google used to generate the title of the search snippet based on the page title, but it has been rewriting that part more and more recently.
That said, it's still a good idea to optimize your title for keywords to entice more clicks — and hope Google doesn't change its mind.
For years, Google has generated the search snippet description without using the associated meta description: recent studies show that meta descriptions are ignored by Google in roughly 70% of cases.
Another way to get Google to use your chosen snippet description is to write brief summaries of the content and include them at the start of the article. You can also ensure that these summaries are semantically relevant to the topic by using semantic analysis tools like Text Optimizer:
Let's take a look at how we can make that standard search snippet stand out and get more clicks.
Rich snippets for content-based pages
Rich snippets are search snippets that have been enhanced with additional information. Rich snippets can be controlled by web publishers by adding schema markup, and they are thus under the control of website owners.
The following are examples of rich snippets that can be used on content-based pages:
This rich snippet does not require that your page be a FAQ. To use the code, simply answer two or more subsequent questions somewhere on that page. Several WordPress plugins, including this one, can assist you in coding that section.
How To schema
It's a method of marking up content for Google and other search engines to make things like supplies, instructions, and photos easier to find.
Rich snippets appear most frequently on mobile devices, but they appear to be very common. Although I've seen dozens of cases where Google creates a rich snippet simply by embedding a video on the page, no schema required, a video-rich snippet includes a video thumbnail that will help you ensure the rich snippet is generated.
Using the rich code, on the other hand, won't hurt, especially since there's a simple video schema generator available.
Even though structured snippets are very common on searches, they are less popular than rich snippets.
Structured snippets use tabular data to create a more useful search snippet.
To be eligible for this type of snippet, you must first create an HTML table. Tables are useful for summaries, feature comparisons, and lists, among other things.
On desktops, image thumbnails are uncommon. Images, on the other hand, appear in the majority of search snippets on mobile devices.
There isn't a specific optimization strategy here, but there are some best practices that may or may not be beneficial.
1) Obviously, your landing page should include at least one image (make it featured on WordPress).
2) To make your image load faster, compress it.
3) Use the meta tag to specify the thumbnail.
When Google believes that including dates in a search snippet will be helpful to a searcher, they do so. Dates, obviously, can have a significant impact on clicking patterns: According to Ignite Visibility's research, about half of all searchers consider dates in search snippets to be "important" clickthrough factors.
1) People may be more inclined to click on a search result that has a more recent date. 2) Even if the page is ranked first, they can scroll past an older date.
Google has specific guidelines for web publishers on how to keep their dates current:
1) Dates are useful, so don't try to hide them.
2) When updating a piece, only republish it on a new date if you've completely rewritten it. (In other words, rather than redirecting, update the old piece and change the publish date.)
3) If you updated the article, put a note at the top that says "Updated on" (Google will pick up on that date).
4) It is not necessary to use schema "datePublished" and "dateModified," but it will be beneficial.
The most unpredictable element of a search snippet is mini-site links. Google may choose links at random from navigation, tag, category, and other sources. There's no way to tell Google that they made a bad decision.
Minisite links can be generated for almost any result, unlike site links, which usually appear for the top-ranking result and are mostly for branded searches.
Minisite links, on the other hand, are a very useful feature because they increase the chances that your search snippet will be clicked (by adding more clickable links to your snippet).
Using an on-page table of contents (which is powered by HTML anchor links) is one way to increase your chances of Google showing mini site links within your search snippet.
Here’s an example of the table of contents:
Featured snippets were officially designated as the #1 organic result as of January 2020 (previously, they were "position zero," appearing before the top organic result).
It's still unclear whether they get more clicks than "normal-looking" search results, or whether they're comprehensive enough to attract fewer. However, according to new research, they're still important for SEO.
With that said, featured snippets are difficult to predict, but if you choose to optimize for them, be sure to read my older Moz column, How to Optimize for Featured Snippets, which is still relevant. Just keep an eye on your clickthrough to make sure you weren't harmed by being featured.
Monitoring and measuring
While rank monitoring is simple, this type of optimization is more difficult to track because your rankings remain the same. You can use the following two tools:
1) Google Search Console
Google Search Console provides clear clickthrough data that can help you determine whether your optimization efforts are having a positive or negative impact:
Click the date range filter (it usually defaults to three months) in the Performance tab, then go to the "Compare" tab and select "Compare last three months year over year".
You can then go to the "Pages" or "Queries" tab to see which pages or search queries have lost organic traffic in the last year (especially if there was no significant position change).
WebCEO makes it easier to keep track of your keywords that aren't getting any clicks. The tool has a distinct tag and a notification system that alerts you to any queries with a drop in clicks.
Visualping is another useful tool here, which you can set to monitor your exact search snippet and receive notifications when it changes.
This is a fantastic way to link your optimization to the actual change that took place (and then clickthrough change).
You can also monitor your competitors' pages and correlate their edits to a better search snippet using SiteChecker's website monitoring tool.
Organic traffic is no longer about rankings, whether it's good or bad news. In fact, you might rank #1 (and thus be featured) but see a drop in clickthrough once your page is promoted. Even though organic CTR is much harder to predict these days, you can experiment with a variety of methods to improve your organic clickthrough without investing more in your rankings.