perfect storm of voice search, mobile, and featured snippets

The Perfect Storm of Voice Search, Featured Snippets, and Mobile-First

One of the most important digital trends for 2018 and beyond is the skyrocketing use of voice-related searches through mobile devices and personal assistants. Adweek stated that by 2019, up to 67 million voice-assisted devices will be in use, and Comscore predicts that by 2020, upwards of 50% of all searches will be voice-driven. This perfect storm of mobile-first, voice-driven searches and featured snippets represents a boon for e-commerce, fashion and retail lead generation.

It’s no secret that today’s harried business professional and the everyday consumer rely on their mobile devices. It’s also well-known that mobile searches outnumber desktop searches. Given the rise in mobile engagement, how do e-commerce, fashion and retail digital marketing teams take advantage of this new reality? The answer lies in understanding the sudden rise in featured snippets and their role in voice-driven and text-based searches. 

What Are Featured Snippets?

Have you noticed how today’s online searches are often displayed as a summary or series of steps at the top of Google search results? That’s a featured snippet. The answer to the search query is taken directly from the webpage, and both the page’s title and URL are included right below the summary. 

There are essentially three types of featured snippets. The most widely recognized and most common are the paragraph snippets at 81.95%; followed by list, numbered and bullet point snippets at 10.77%; followed lastly by table snippets at 7.28%. Paragraph snippets are typically used for short, concise explanations. List and table snippets come into play when users want to know the steps required to complete a given task. 

The benefit for e-commerce, fashion and retail advertisers is that they don’t have to rank high on a given keyword to take advantage of featured snippets. In fact, a high SERP is not a prerequisite to gaining top position on a well-researched featured snippet. What’s required is the willingness to investigate the keyword phrase and its relevance to the search terms initiated by users. 

How Are Featured Snippets Initiated?

Featured snippets are predominantly triggered by questions, prepositions and comparisons. Sentence searches that start with “why” or “how” will trigger a featured snippet. In fact, once questions, prepositions and comparisons are removed, very few featured snippets are driven by generic keywords. Featured snippets are a natural response to the growth of keyword-phrase and keyword-focused sentence searches. Single word searches are no longer the norm.

The Rise of Video Snippets

What about video snippets? Well, that’s quickly catching on, and although video snippets are more complex, time-consuming and a more involved process than other snippets, they do represent an opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

Video snippets require uploading a rich media video into the HTML code via schema.org and using an XML sitemap. However, companies that have mastered video snippets have the benefit of a both a written answer in the form of a paragraph or list and a compact video right beside it. Users can be brought to a specific time in the video based on their search query. 

With Google’s official roll-out of the mobile-first index in July, mobile search overcoming desktop, and the rise of voice-driven searches, there’s a ton of opportunity for e-commerce, retail and fashion enterprises looking to earn the top spot for featured snippets. Local businesses and content-driven sites are ideal suitors to featured snippets. 

Looking for additional insights into retail advertising strategies? Read our recent case study: Search, Display, and Social Advertising Boosts High-End Retailer's YOY Sales by 70%.

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