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Tracking Featured Snippets Using Google Sheets

Mar 21, 2022
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In the latest episode of Hack My Growth, we're looking at featured snippets, and more specifically, how can we see if our site's actually ranking for one?

Featured snippets are the texts that Google highlights at the top of your search results, and they provide usually quick answers to the user's query. They're more likely to appear when people ask things like questions and Google has some sort of exact answer or a related answer or something that's very close to what they're looking for, something that they can do very quickly. But how can you find out if your site ranks for one?

 

Video Transcript: 

In this video we're looking at how we can track our featured snippet results. Before we get into that, let's talk really quickly about what a featured snippet is.

What is a Featured Snippet?

Now, featured snippets, these are the texts that Google highlights at the top of your search results, and they provide usually quick answers to the users query. Now, they're more likely to appear when people ask things like questions and Google has some sort of exact answer or a related answer or something that's very close to what they're looking for, something that they can do very quickly.

This is typically called position zero, and it's one of the main drivers of what we've talked about a little bit here on this channel and other SEOs have talked about as related to zero-click search. Because people can type in a query. They can get the answer they want right away and move on with their lives.

Google typically displays them above the regular search results and it has some like a relevant section. Typically, they are going to bolden the answer or they're going to give a list or videos or things like that.

What do Feature Snippets Look Like?

As I said before, Google's going to show a highlighted snippet for many different search queries on the first page. And like we said before, this is typically called position zero. Now snippets are pieces of information or content that has been pulled from that website that match the user search query. And we can have things like:

  • Text snippets
  • List snippets
  • Table snippets
  • Videos snippets (sometimes even carousels)

Tracking Rich Snippet Results

Here are some examples of three types of featured snippets. Over here we've got a list like how to start a business. We give you the top eight here and there's probably more on the website. As you can see, it says 13 steps, but they're only listing eight here, which means as a user you probably want to click in and read more.

You can also get a video. This is a video featuring snippet on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Google has identified that people actually want to go and watch how to do this. Or we can have something like this.

This is one that we've earned for our brand. You can see Google's pulling the text from our site and then they're bolding the content that they think answers that question. But then we also see some image carousel here, like this image is from our site that these ones are not from our site. So Google's pulling in a number of pieces of information into these featured snippets.

How Common are Featured Snippets?

Well, Semrush and Brado studied 160 million terms on desktop and 46.1 million on mobile to find out how often that these occur. And they found that 19% of SERPs have a featured snippet, and 7.3% of SERPs have what's known as a double featured snippet. So Google will actually put two featured snippets right there, stacked on top.

Now 50% of a mobile screen it's covered when a featured snippet shows up. That's why it's important real estate for you to own a 70% of these feature snippets so of the ones that show up are paragraphs. So typically Google's just showing a paragraph from that page. It's typically boldened. About 20%, just less than that are list. About 6.3 are tables and 4.6 are videos.

Now the industries that see the greatest percentage are travel, computer and electronics, arts, and entertainment and science.

It's important to note that featured snippets are most likely to appear when you are using a long tail query. And the intent is very high when Google can really understand that intent. And it's typically going to be informational-intent focused. Now you will see some commercial or navigational, but in most cases it's going to be informational intent.

If you want to read more on the study, Search Engine Journal did a highlight of what Semrush and Brado did here. And they've also got quite a bit of other really good information you can check out there.

How do We Track Featured Snippets?

So how do we track featured snippets? How we know if you've even earned one of these other than accidentally finding our links within the search results?

Well, thankfully you can use some tools to help you out. A number of SEO tools today are using ways to figure out or find featured snippets, but a really easy way to do this is with leveraging Google Sheets and an add-on called Search Analytics for Sheets.

So let's take a look at how we can do this.

The first thing you're going to want to do is go to Google's Workspace Marketplace and download and install, Search Analytics for Sheets.

Once you have the add-on installed, we want to come over here to Google Sheets and inside of Google Sheets, we can find this new extension by clicking the extensions button. Then we can select Search Analytics for Sheets and click the open sidebar.

If you're logged into Search Console, you've made that connection before, you're going to see all of your sites here. You can go ahead and just filter the site you want to check out, click on that and now we can start to do some work. As you can see by default, it's pulling quite a bit of information.

Now, if I went and ran this query, it would take quite a while because that's like almost a year and a half of data. This is all the data we have. I don't actually need all that. I just want to see the last maybe 30 days or so. I'm going to go ahead and filter this down because I want to see the featured snippets that are driving traffic or visibility right now not necessarily ones that I maybe had three or four years ago.

The next thing we can select the type of search that we want to do. By default, it's web and that's really what we want to look at. But as you can see, you can pull all types of Search Console data with this add-on. It's a really helpful and useful add-on.

Next, I want to choose, Query, and I want to choose, Page. The reason I want to do both of these is because I want to see the query that is triggering the featured snippet for that page. We can add filters, we can do aggregation types. We can decide how much of this information we want to pool, first 1,000 roles, custom, whatever.

I want to see everything and I'm okay with putting it in this active sheet because I have nothing else within this sheet. If you've got more data that you're using, or there may be other things going on this sheet, you might want to change this result here.

Once you've set it up the way you want, go ahead and hit, Request Data. Once you're done, we can see which queries we have featured snippets for. So I did a little bit of formatting of the data just so it's a little bit easier to see. We can see the queries. We can see the pages, the clicks, impressions, CTR. All of that.

The next thing we want to do is add a filter. We need to see the pages that only have, or have triggered a featured snippet over the last 30 days. So once we have the filter on, we can go ahead and click this and we're going to set a condition. The condition is, text contains, and we're going to use text and then the equal sign.

The reason why we use text and equal sign, that will show up in the URL of any page that has triggered featured snippet, because Google has pulled that text to be used within a featured snippet. Once you're done, you go ahead and hit, Okay.

And as you can see here, we've got quite a few queries, all these queries over here. We see that Google at some point in the last 30 days or so has actually pulled in our pages here for rich features or featured snippets.

Now it's very important that you do a check with these and you go back to see, okay, are we still ranking for these? Do we still show up for these? Just because we have them here, doesn't mean they're showing up right now. The search results fluctuate quite a bit. And so we want to make sure that we do a little bit more of our homework.

Really what feature snippets can do more than just traffic is build brand visibility. It can help people to recognize this as a brand, as a trusted leader, because they might get the results instantly instead of them coming to our page directly.

But right now I can see we've got a number of queries at some point have triggered a featured snippet. Now, one thing to notice, we haven't got many clicks on these. We've actually only got a few impressions because these terms are pretty long tail.

Really what feature snippets can do more than just traffic is build brand visibility. It can help people to recognize this as a brand, as a trusted leader, because they might get the results instantly instead of them coming to our page directly. This is a huge proponent or a huge factor in what's known as zero-click search we talked about a little bit before in this video.

While this may not be a perfect way to track featured snippets, we can definitely see that Google is adding them in here and our site is ranking for some of these. What else this is really useful for though, is to see what other content Google finds important to these queries.

So for instance, let's look at smart goals, realistic, relevant, time bound. These are things that Google's pulled out. They find this important.

'What is a blog?', 'Common misconceptions', 'The purpose of a blog', these are other things that they're finding. So we can actually use this to maybe optimize our texts a little bit further. Find those terms that Google extract it out because they saw them as relevant to the community or the person making the query. So if we don't maybe go deep enough into misconceptions, maybe we should do that a little bit more within this article because at some point that triggered Google to pull this out.

So here's just a really quick way using some of these search tools, specifically this Search Analytics for Sheets extension in order to surface those featured snippets that our site has ranked for at some point in time.

If you've got any questions, please let's continue that conversation. I'd love to dive with you more into this topic.

And the last thing I'm going to leave you with is the power of structured data. Structured data is going to help you earn a number of rich features within Google. It may not be a featured snippet, but it could be things like YouTube videos. It could be things like image carousels, list, FAQs, and a whole lot more.

If you want to learn how to optimize your website using structured data in order to earn these rich features, check out our course at learner.centered.search.net. You get 25% off using the code YouTube. Thanks again for watching and until next time, happy marketing.

Mastering Structured Data

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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