Snippets are the quick little exerts that Google shares when someone asks a very targeted question online. A snippet usually is a quick bullet list, definition or explanation. Typical snippets are less than 55 words in length and can are commonly pulled by Google near ads even when websites aren’t a top SERP.
Voice search is where consumers ask Siri or Google or what seems like the microwave at times to answer a question. “Google, how long does it take for a potato to explode in the microwave.” Serious questions need quick and useful answers. Snippets have truly arisen because of voice search needs.
Consumers might type in, “best Chinese food,” but will ask Google while driving, “Where is the best Chinese food.” In other words, while people text in emoji, they haven’t started speaking in keyword phrases.
Why Content is King with Snippets
Snippets answer very specific questions about a topic. This means that the content must address the question directly and quickly. Content that does this is ranking pages faster than long-form content though you can’t create a site of just snippets.
While we, as content marketers, believe that content is king and always will be, we understand that content must adapt to the ever-changing world of SEO. Google runs the show there and while we can produce great content, we also need to adapt so our content is more readily found.
Anything less than this will leave you on SERP 10 and that isn’t a good thing. It’s no longer enough to build content around longtail keywords and target phrases. You can’t just write 1,500 words and expect Google to automatically rank you. You need to be looking at voice search and the rise of the snippet.
Concerns With Snippets
The problem with snippets is that long-form content starts to seem very robotic because writers are trying to pull in the most relevant details in the smallest spaces imaginable. Really, think about 55 words. That’s barely four lines and if you are introducing complex topics, this is difficult.
Difficult is one thing, but keeping readers engaged with content that helps drive in examples is even harder. When writers and site builders are constantly parsing down ideas to keep them snippet-worthy, the brand can lose some of its strength. Right now, my fingers are straining to stick to topic and not release all hell in a humorous rant of some sort. (See I just let go of a potential snippet, but that is okay since snippets usually only follow a header or are grabbed from lists.
The Connection Between Voice Search and Snippets
What a person asks is what Google is looking to match with content. If the question is direct, the voice search result will read back the answer. Snippets are a matter of efficiency. Voice search reflects human language because people are not shouting keywords at the computer.
What a snippet is and what it consists of follows this standard:
- Answers a direct question asked in a search engine
- Is generally 55 words or less in length
- Quickly provides a definition or how to.
For example, a person might panic in a medical emergency and ask, “Siri, how do I help a choking infant?” While the full SERP might be a page on infant choking and CPR, the snippet might grab the quick bullets.
EXAMPLE of Potential Grab: How to Help a Choking Infant:
- Assess Situation Quickly: Determine if child is breathing, coughing or still getting air at all. Call 9-1-1 if child is in extreme distress or not breathing.
- Check Airway: Lay baby on floor or hard surface, tilt head back and look into mouth to see if anything in obstructing airway.
- Deliver 5 Back Blows: Turn baby on belly, supporting with left hand on left knee, tilted with her head down toward the ground. Use heel of hand to firmly hit the back between the shoulder blades.
- Flip and Do 5 Chest Thrusts: If back blows don’t dislodge item, flip baby over into same position except belly up. With two fingers in the center of the chest along the nipple line, thrust five times swiftly depressing the chest 1 ½ inches with each thrust.
- Repeat with Alternating Back Blows and Chest Thrusts: Continue steps 3 and 4 until the baby becomes responsive. Should the baby become unresponsive for more than a minute, infant CPR should be started and done until the paramedics arrive.
Do you see how that gets to the point quickly? It’s because people talking to their phones, tablets or computer probably aren’t sitting there trying to read something. Chances are I’ll get a snippet for this article for infant choking rather than snippets, SEO or voice search. Such is the life of a content marketer. Google might just pull the bolded sections in some snippets making them even more parsed down in content but giving the absolute required information requested.
Snippets and AMPing Websites
In the world of mobile technology, every website needs to be responsive. This isn’t new to most website owners. Having an Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) website means you have optimized it for Google’s mobile visitors. It means you are voice search ready.
Go ahead and ask.
What is AMP in WordPress?
AMP is an acronym that means Accelerated Mobile Pages and is available for WordPress websites. It’s a plugin that supports the tech of major companies such as Google and Twitter. Content loads faster and is more responsive. The reader is able to get information faster and more efficiently.
AMPS and Snippets Affect SERP and Sourcing
A snippet isn’t always the first introductory paragraph of a website. It could be pulled from the center or even the end of the page. Snippets are generally pulled from top SERP results and can lead to lesser ranked pages to get ranked faster. The downside is that the AMP could lead to readers missing a call-to-action or even clicking the page.
Think about it. If the snippet answers everything the reader needed, they thank Siri and head on their way. There is no need to dig further into the source article. This could negatively affect organic traffic that content producers are desperately trying to get. It’s a double edge sword but one that every content producer should be considering as they develop content.
People are lazy when they type. They’ll put in a few of the relevant keywords, often omitting things like articles. In fact, may keywords for SEO purposes are designed for common typos people have. Google is getting better about recognizing what people want. Yep, Google’s artificial intelligence is getting better and reading our minds.
But when people speak, they still use full sentence structure. This is the theory behind voice search. It has given rise to snippets and will continue to evolve the way content marketing is approached and structured.