Posts

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Can Grammar Issues Eliminate Featured Snippets in Google Search?

Recently Britney Muller of Moz Blog indicated in a brief article titled Does Google Drop Featured Snippets Over Typos? on the Search Engine RoundTable site that a simple typographical error was the probable cause behind Moz losing a featured snippet.

When the error was corrected, Moz reportedly regained the featured snippet in search. As mentioned in the Moz article, the only entity that could confirm or deny this activity would be Google themselves. Without their input we can only speculate.

So do typos, spelling mistakes, and grammar issues stop featured snippets from showing Google Search?

In the instance experienced by Moz, the difference between the word choose and the word chose was the underlying cause. In the article, it only indicates that “…the page had a typo, a spelling mistake.” It wasn’t specified if that spelling mistake was in the page content, in the page URL, or both. That doesn’t provide us with enough information. Here’s what I think happened.

Grammatical Errors Change Featured Snippet Context

If the URL was spelled correctly, but the on-page content was not (or vice versa), I could see Google having grammatical issues with the page vs. the URL.

Choose = (verb) Simple present tense and future tense

Chose = (verb) Simple past tense

The difference in tenses might suggest that Google interpreted the feature snippet compared to the URL. One of them was not linguistically correct.

Grammatical Errors & Featured Snippets Linguistics

Most of us may not think a simple typo should warrant the change that Moz experienced. However, Google has teams of linguists working to correct just such grammatical errors. It’s possible that Moz experienced one of the changes that Google initiated based on recommendations from their linguistic staff.

In a Quora post titled What do linguists at Google do? from 2014, Dave Orr (a Google employee at that time) responded:

“If you have a working system, it will get stuff wrong. What is it getting wrong and why, and how do we fix it? Linguists help answer those questions.”

Eliminate Grammatical Errors & Featured Snippets

Grammatical errors should probably be a concern for anyone writing content for SEO purposes. Muller hypothesizes that Google could have just been doing some testing, which altered the listing temporarily.

However, on a larger scale in the grand scheme of things we know that Google is constantly striving for better quality content. Behind Google’s masterminding stands a team of linguists. We should all be striving to make our content more grammatically correct and typo-free to appease the experts on this team.

Correct Grammatical Errors in Featured Snippet SEO Content

If you ever have to ask yourself the question “Why did we lose a Featured Snippet?”, it should not be because of a typo, or because past tense was used instead of simple present tense. Content has to become linguistically-friendly if we expect it to fly through Google’s ever-widening bevy of tests.

Give yourself a head start on the daunting linguistic issues by using programs such as Grammarly, Hemingway App, and a host of others to check, recheck, and triple check your content before posting.

Your site visitors will appreciate clear, concise, grammatically correct content. So will Google. To adequately serve both of these masters, you will need to set up your writing skills to match the ever-evolving world of SEO.

If your content needs a literary boost, call 1st on the List today for more information on SEO Content writing at 1-888-262-6687.

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Voice Activated SEO Strategy for Google Home Device

Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by Google Assistant. You can ask it questions or tell it to do things, much like the Google Search function on your computer or phone, but in a hands free speaker version.

As Google’s entry into the home market, the Google Home device was released in October 2016 (just in time for people to add to their Christmas wishlists) and is expected to ship nearly 3 million Google Home devices in 2017 (according to Strategy Analytics).

With voice only search devices like Google Home and the Amazon Echo entering the home it is important to recognize voice only search within your SEO strategy.

As a business owner invested in an SEO Strategy for your website you may be wondering what does this mean for you?

To ride the upcoming wave of voice-activated SEO there are two significant concepts to become familiar with:

  1. Featured Snippets
  2. Good Abandonment

Why Did Google Create Featured Snippets?

Ever since the first iPhone was released in 2007 the search engines have continually evolved and adapted their results to more effectively present Search Results to mobile devices. Google’s Featured Snippets were part of that evolution. The thinking was (and is even more so now) that short, concise answers to questions right in the search result would more readily adapt to responsive design. It turns out, they also translate well (in most instances) to voice.

What none of the Search Engines had during the first years of smartphone devices was a means of successfully measuring or monitoring the satisfaction level of the answers shown in a Featured Snippet search result. For example, a mobile user would search a term, and if Google found an appropriate answer online, it would likely present it as a Featured Snippet to a mobile device.

If the answer satisfied the searcher, no further clicks occurred on the device (this is what we call “good abandonment” and will discuss next). Google was left wondering how to gauge the results, and most SEO firms were left trying to figure out how to utilize this information for their clients.

What is Good Abandonment?

Good abandonment is an abandoned, informational query addressed successfully on the results page which requires no further click or query refinement.

In a 2009 paper titled Good Abandonment in Mobile and PC Internet Search (Google et al.), they used the term Good Abandonment to describe just such a query. Essentially, the absence of any action on the part of the mobile user after the initial query was deemed to be Good Abandonment. The logic was, the user was satisfied with the answer (Featured Snippet) provided at the top of the result and no further action on the part of the searcher was required.

In a 2016 paper titled Detecting Good Abandonment in Mobile Search (Microsoft et al.), the research logic focused on gestures on mobile devices as underlying indicators of Good Abandonment. But in both studies, the principle units of measurement seemed to remain relatively the same. The absence of actions post-query was interpreted as the presence of a degree of satisfaction.

SEO for Google Home Device

So what do these things all mean for Google Home and voice activated SEO?

The SEO community is already writing articles as a result of what Google Home presents to users. A Moz piece titled How to Rank on Google Home is an interesting peek into what Google Home finds for a variety of different searches.

Google Home does a better job of presenting results for specific queries than it does for more general questions. And Google’s Explore Features section of Google Home helps provide a list of topic areas currently addressed by the device.

As Search Engine Land expresses in another article titled SEO without SERPs, I feel that the most applicable areas for SEO will currently be Facts & Info searches on Google Home, and Local Guide. While these regions may not leave much travel space for introduction into your specific SEO portfolio, look for Google to expand Home’s repertoire of responses in the coming months and years as they will no doubt refine and expand its infrastructure.

Focus on Featured Snippets

Until the SEO community does some research and exploration into other ways to optimize websites for Google Home, intensive focus on Featured Snippets seems to be the most likely method of gaining voice-activated entry in Home’s world.

The ability to summarize a question and uniquely answer that query in a way that garners Google’s attention for Home is likely to become a very specialized skill. The categories of questions (Facts & Info and Local Guide) available to pursue for Home do not provide much room to explore. They are not as much roadmaps for definitive voice search success but rather points of interest on a vocal highway which Google will undoubtedly continue to widen and pave as they explore.

If you have any questions about Google Home and SEO, call us today for more information at 1-888-262-6687.