How To Test Mobile Search Results for a Featured Snippet in the SERPeratorApril 24, 2020
The growth of Featured Snippets over the past few years has been one of the biggest changes that SEOs have had to adapt to in the history of the discipline, and they continue to evolve. Now, Featured Snippets are finally tracked in Google Search Console, with a position number, which is a big deal. Previously, they were like the elephant in the room (or the SERP) because they took lots of traffic and attention, without always driving the same amount of traffic as a traditional Position 1 ranking. As you can see in the example below, Featured Snippets are informative and compelling – especially for users who are just looking for answers and information, and don’t care what website it comes from. They often also give extra credence to the Featured Snippets, because they believe that Google has editorially chosen them or is tacitly endorsing them, which of course, is not true – a common misconception of searchers.
Featured Snippets were especially invisible until recently, during the time when Google stopped showing the site that reviewed a Featured Snippet in both the Featured Snippet, Position Zero spot as well as in the normal rankings – they became invisible. But now, Featured Snippets are tracked in Google Search Console, but they are no longer restricted to Position Zero. As Brodie Clark explains, Featured Snippets are not always at the top anymore, which is another big change! There are different opinions about Featured Snippets -some SEOs love them because they increase exposure and brand awareness, but other SEOs hate them, because they may limit the need of a user to actually click through to a web result.
Featured Snippets have a wide variety of formatting. You can see in the one below, that there are topical expanders, so a user can get more information if they want. When you click on one of these topical expanders, they actually open to reveal another Featured Snippet, in this case, from a different website.
In other cases, Google is even showing double Featured Snippets like the one below, where 2 Featured Snippets are stacked, which are also quite hard to track and evaluate but make it even more likely that users will not get to the blue links below.
There are many details in how these are presented, and Google is constantly testing different layouts for Featured Snippets – as Brodie Clark outlined in this tweet; since some may be more likely to send traffic than others, this can be important to track. This tutorial will walk you through how you can do this for your most important queries and Featured Snippets, to see how they change over time, and hopefully be able to tie this back to potential changes in the SEO traffic that each of these Featured Snippets sends. A searcher’s interactions with Featured Snippets may even continue to grow, as Google begins suggesting alternate searches based on a user’s recent search activities, as described in a Tweet by Glen Gabe, and detailed by Android Police – we presume that they will suggest searches where there is a Featured Snippet or Knowledge Graph entry present.
Regardless of how you feel about optimizing for Featured Snippets, it may be relevant for you to track Featured Snippets – possibly in a more detailed way than most SEO analytics programs do. Most programs may tell you that you have a Featured Snippet, but they often don’t tell you if it has images or special formatting. We all know that hybrid Featured Snippets can exist, where the text is from one website, but images are from another, but how do you track that? Sometimes only an image will do, which is why we have created this tutorial, about how to use the MobileMoxie SERPerator to track changes in Featured Snippets, for any query you want.
So let’s get into it!
1. Start by logging into your MobileMoxie account, and click on the top tab on the left that says SERPerator, and then click below to see the Live Testing view (If you don’t have a MobileMoxie account yet, you can register for a 7 day free trial here).
2. Next, add the address that you want to test from. This can be a full address, down to a specific street address, or it can just be a city or postcode/zip code. If you leave the postcode and street address blank, we will just measure from the geographic center of the city. Featured Snippets do change from country to country, and from one language setting to another but they don’t tend to be too tied to geography other than that – You can test from a specific address location if you want, but it is also fine if you just want to go down to the city level for this step.
Don’t forget, the SERPerator works for testing in most countries in the world, so if you are doing business in different countries, it might be a good idea to set up multiple tests for each country or major location.
If you are an international brand or reach an international audience, it is important to note that Featured Snippets do change from country to country, even when the language of the query or the content does not change.
Featured Snippets also change from one language setting to another, even when the language of the query that is submitted, and the location, and the country version of Google does not change. See the results below, that shows the same query, ‘How to make tea’ submitted in English and Greek. Both queries are submitted in Los Angeles and written in English, but the phone search languages are changed – you can tell based on the Google top navigation. This results in drastically different featured snippets – even though it is actually the same site ranking in both; this is not always the case though – the website that is ranking can also change.
3. After that, just add in the query that you would like to track Featured Snippets for. Remember, we are just setting up one test here, but you might want to set up multiple variations of a keyword phrase since even details in how the query is written can change whether or not a Featured Snippet is shown, and also it can change which Featured Snippet will be displayed.
4. Now just choose the phone or phones that you want to test with, and hit ‘Run Test’. We recommend testing with two phones – one iOS device and one Android. If possible, it is also a good idea to choose one large phone and one small phone; this will give you the strongest sense if there are changes in the way results are displayed between the different OS, and the different size phones.
FYI: The phone OS usually won’t make a huge difference in these kinds of searches, but the size of the phone could. Google seems to change the layout of a Featured Snippet, to fit the phone size more than other searches, as you can see in the image below – notice that the text is the same but the larger phone has an image in the Featured Snippet, and the smaller one does not.
5. Next Step – Dig into the results! If there are expander buttons, ‘more’ links (both shown below) or answer carousels in your Featured Snippet, or disambiguation (both in the car image lower down), you can click on those or anything else in the search result that you are interested in. The MobileMoxie SERPerator is just like a fully functional phone.
6. When you are done, you can click the ‘save’ icon below each of the phones – Each test, aka each phone, must be saved separately, so it is fine if you only want to save one of the results, to test on a regular basis. When you click the ‘save’ icon, a modal will pop up with options. You have the option to re-run this test daily, weekly, or monthly, and you can specify things like the day and time that you want it to run. You also have the option to run the test, not just in the address or location that you specified, but in a radius around the area, to see if the result changes. If you choose non-local, you will only test in the one location, but if you choose ‘local’ the tool will test with 12 different addresses in a 20-mile radius of your main address. When you are done here, click ‘Next’.
7. Next, you can replicate this test for other addresses if you want. If you already have other addresses saved to your account, you will be given the option to run the same test in multiple locations outside of the 20-mile radius. This is great if you want to compare how this test looks in different cities, states, or countries that you serve, or if you want to to the same test at multiple store locations. (If you want to run this test in multiple locations that are not already set up in the tool, go to the ‘Dashboard’ CSV uploader, then come back to this step if you need to.) Click ‘Submit’ and then you are done. The test will be added to your dashboard, and you can see the progression of your tests there.
Optimizing and tracking Featured Snippets can be critical for a successful SEO effort. MobileMoxie SERPerater is our Google SERP checker that allows you to track SERP changes and discover new opportunities as they appear in the SERP. This tutorial focused on the version of the tool that subscribers see, but you can also use the free version of the SERPerator to get a limited experience, or if you need more than a few tests, you can sign up for a 7-day free trial for unlimited SERP testing. We hope you have found this step-by-step tutorial valuable!