I’ve been waiting for a long time to reveal this one… I had the pleasure of chatting with Moz’s
Sr SEO Scientist, Britney Muller, and she did not disappoint!
She spoke at MozCon and revealed some incredible insights and data into what Google wants and how to use that information to win featured snippets. (If you want to get that info, you can still do so by checking out this webinar.) So today I decided to take it a step further and we discussed how to take the first step towards implementing featured snippets into your workflow (it can be a daunting task!), how to determine if you have a content problem or a formatting problem and we even go off on a bit of a tangent about what truly great content looks like.
Before we get into featured snippets, we discussed how to shift away from dated SEO practices and how automation should be implemented into your daily workflows.
Let me know if you have done any experiments with featured snippets and how they went!
Britney was the founder at Pryde Marketing prior to moving to Moz and at Pryde, she dealt with a lot of Medical SEO. I’ve noticed a lot of people saying that it isn’t really even worth it to invest in SEO anymore if you are in the medical space, so I wanted to get her point of view.
- You need to market much more specifically. If you create very specific content for very specific procedures, you can still make it work
- She would interview experts then go omnichannel by creating videos, producing Slideshares (which did very well) and it’s really all about experimenting
- Slideshare was so successful because most of the information available is very technical. So just find that gap.
What are some rather dated SEO best practices that we should move away from and what should we replace them with?
- There are a lot of things we should think about automating
- SEOs generate a lot of data, but a lot of people get lost implementing strategies based on the data
- Moz, JROak and Hamlet Batista are creating beautiful automated workflows
What are some examples of things we can automate?
- Title tags
- Alt text
- Meta tags
- It’s not perfect yet, but it’s getting there. Integrate it but still keep manually checking your more important pages
- Hamlet Batista wrote a crawler that finds the lowest-performing pages and looks at the best performing keyword for that page. If the best performing keyword is not in the title, the tool will automatically inject it into the title
- Paul Shapiro has been doing automatic 301 redirects for years. It crawls your site and uses NLP to redirect any nonexistent pages to the most relevant existing page
- This allows us to work on higher-level thinking
My own commentary: If you find a way to automate these everyday time-consuming processes, consider offering the tool for free on your website. This will draw in backlinks and traffic to your website at very little expense to you.
On another note, a lot of SEOs still use dated KPIs as well (like traffic and keyword rankings). How would you recommend we update our KPIs and what should that conversation look like with clients?
- Some people are great SEOs but they fail to connect with the client on what they really need
- Start by asking the client what they need. Is it more sales? Email signups? Downloads?
- From there, you can work backward to create more effective KPIs
- At Pryde, she would ask clients what their 5 most profitable services are and would work backward from there
- This is how you develop trust with clients because then you are also speaking their language
- Speaking about bounce rate and traffic won’t resonate with the client
Google has made a lot of changes recently. Most significantly they released the BERT update, which we cannot optimize for. So how should SEOs approach keyword research and content in general?
- Start creating space from the way that we think about keywords. We need to think of it more on a topical level
- What are searchers looking for? Now solve that.
- Think of it from a NLP standpoint
- What are their problems? How can we help them?
What’s an example of this?
- We used to do a deep dive on keyword research without actually Googling the keyword
- So start by Googling the keyword to really understand how Google interprets that keyword
- Also, read each and every result on page one to understand what Google is rewarding
Britney is the Queen of Featured Snippets! I listened to this webinar prior to doing the interview with her and if you have ever wondered about how to steal featured snippets, this includes all of her tests, advice, and data as well as strategies you can implement with your team.
I think one of the biggest challenges is actually implementing all of this new knowledge as most SEO managers then have to pass everything onto their team and a lot of it is just testing and trial and error. So it’s difficult to assign concrete tasks. How would recommend going about this issue?
- Your featured snippet playground are the keywords you currently have ranking on page one. For now, just have your team focus on those keywords.
- Find the keywords you are already ranking for and sit down as a whole team. Which ones will provide the highest ROI?
- Google is rewarding shorter and tighter responses to accommodate voice. Anything longer than a sentence or two feels like it goes on forever
- Also, consider following Andy Crestodina (who I also interviewed and will be released next week!) for great marketing tips
- Unique research and opinion do extraordinarily well in the SERPs. It isn’t just about playing a game with Google, remember that it’s about creating the most valuable content
If you have a piece that is ranking in the number 4 spot, when do you know if it is better to change the structure or the actual content itself?
- Google usually sticks to the structure of the featured snippet. So if the current featured snippet is a list, it usually won’t change it to a paragraph
- Ask yourself if your content is formatted in the same style (list, table, etc)
- If you are in the 4th spot, she recommends that you do still revisit the content itself
- If you are really targeting a particular featured snippet, go all in and provide unique images, produce the content in a way the consumers want it (video, etc) and listen to what Andy’s staying
How much time do you usually spend trying to get that featured snippet?
- She probably invests more time than she should 🙂 but it really helps to learn about them
- Check out her latest funny experiment with Russ Jones competing for “who is the smartest SEO”
- This keeps it fun and keeps you learning and keeps it fun
- Google likes it when you restate the question
- If you’re answering “What is BERT?” Start with “BERT is…”
Connect with Britney