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Top 3 Best Link Building Services for 2020 ($140,424 Spent)

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Looking for the best link building services in 2020?

I got you covered because Chris Dreyer (founder of Rankings.io) and I have spent well over $1,000,000 on different link building services.

This case study will focus on $140,424 of that spend.

Why not the entire spend?

  1. This is an organic case study (we’ll be updating it).
  2. We’re still gathering data from hundreds of orders.
  3. I felt a level of insanity coming over me after manually analyzing hundreds of links.

Let’s jump right into the findings.

Top 3 Best Link Building Services (Case Study)

  1. Page One Power
  2. Fat Joe
  3. The Hoth

Before I go too deep into this, I want to share the goal of this case study. My goal is not to “bash” any of these services.

Everything I share here is designed to help both buyers and sellers in link building campaigns.

Buyers deserve to know what SEO process they’re investing in and how it will affect the SEO performance. Sellers deserve to get quality feedback, so they can improve their services and link building activities.

I’m not going to beat around the bush with my link building efforts data analysis. If the link-building techniques are bad, I’m going to say it’s bad.

I’ll also explain the right way for buyers to use link building services (80% of buyers aren’t using these services correctly. More on this later.).

Sound good? Cool, let’s get started.

Here’s a high-level overview of the 942 links we analyzed:

As of 6/24/2020, we’ve collected data from 942 different link placements. We have the most data from Fat Joe and Page One Power. This will change as we continue to add more orders to our database.

The Hoth and Page One Power had the highest number of unique linking root domains (on average). However, this data isn’t particularly valuable at a high level. I’ll explain why.

Both link building companies also dominated the total organic keywords for their placements. This is a solid metric, but it’s also not 100% reliable because of the reasons I’ll explain.

Lastly, link placements from Page One Power and The Hoth dominated the estimated organic search traffic numbers as well.

Here’s how we conducted these link building companies services case study:

1. We gathered metrics for all link placements using Ahrefs

The KPIs we used for a 30,000-foot view analysis are:

  • Ahrefs Rank
  • Referring Domains (DoFollow)
  • Keywords
  • Traffic

The objective was to see what services faired best at a high-level.

Here’s why high-level metrics (averages) don’t really work:

1. Varying order types

Some links are at a higher price point while others are at a lower price point. As you can imagine, higher-priced placements are generally better. This also leads to:

2. Metric inflation

One or two websites with big numbers can inflate the averages. We filtered out super high-authority sites to avoid inflating the averages as much as possible.

3. Total referring domains doesn’t mean much

The only way to truly judge the quality of a website’s link profile is to do manual analysis. Link-by-link.

That’s why step #2 in this process was critical.

2. I randomly selected 10 link placements from each vendor and did a manual analysis

I’ll be sharing a granular analysis of 2-3 out of the ten link placements for each vendor. My focus will be on placements that received a perfect score of 5, an average score of 3, and a poor score of 1.

Here are the domain-level criteria we used:

  • Is this a legit website or a PBN rebuild?
  • Is this website active?
  • Is this website adding new value or is it just a hub for accepting paid links?
  • Is the website using an SSL certificate?
  • Does the website have a clean history?
  • Is the domain-relevant? To score this, we used The Relevancy Pyramid.
  • Does the website explicitly say that it accepts guest posts, sponsored posts, or paid links?
  • Does the business have an external presence on social media?
  • Does the website have organic search traffic? If not, does it have traffic from other sources?

Here are the page-level criteria we used:

  • Is the page hosting the link indexed?
  • Does the article have a legitimate author?
  • Is the article readable?
  • Does the article have a Grammarly score greater than 70?
  • Does the article have relevant, high-quality external links?
  • Does the article have internal links?
  • Is the article thin?
  • Is the article topically relevant?

Based on high-level metrics and manual analysis, these are the top 3 best link building services:

1. Page One Power

It should come as no surprise that Page One Power had the highest quality links.

I questioned whether or not we should have on this list at all because they aren’t productized service like the others. They have monthly retainers and their service is customized for each client.

That said, they are still a “link building service”.

And I must say, they’re damn good at what they do.

Out of all the services I tested, Page One Power’s link placements were most consistent. But it actually wasn’t just their link placement that impressed me.

It was HOW they built links.

I’ve been preaching this for a long time, but the best way to build links to your site is by creating linkable assets. ALL of Page One Power’s placements do exactly that.

In fact: It’s a requirement.

This the safest and most natural way to build links to your site.

It’s far more natural to acquire links to an informational content asset than a boring transactional page (example: local lead capture page or product page).

Placement #1 (5/5)

  • Total cost: $550
  • Domain Rating (DR): 73
  • Ahrefs Rank: 48,167
  • Referring Domains (DoFollow): 3,101
  • Total Keywords: 16,740
  • Estimated Organic Search Traffic/mo: 7,441
  • Domain Relevance: 1/5
  • Content Relevance: 3/5
  • Content Readability: 4/5
  • Grammarly Score: 86%
  • Word Count: 768

I wanted to highlight this link placement because it doesn’t seem like it deserves a 5/5 (on the surface).

But let’s dig a little deeper.

Page One Power was tasked with finding link opportunities in the legal niche. This is a notoriously difficult niche for getting REAL links.

The workaround is to sacrifice domain-level relevance.

Instead, you can build relevance on the content level.

I gave them a 3/5 for content relevance because it was a little broad, but I understand the reasoning (which is to make the placement more natural).

There were three elements that I loved about this link placement.

1. The content is editorial and written by a legit author

2. The link profile is beautiful

The domains have DoFollow links from Adobe, The Guardian, Techcrunch, IBM, and Wall Street Journal.

3. They’re linking to a linkable asset

Page One Power linked to a data-driven blog post on the law firm’s site.

Perfect!

This link placement is a great example of why domain-level relevance isn’t always critical. A link can be high-quality as long as it’s placed on website with a strong link profile and the content is somewhat topically relevant.

Placement #2 (3/5)

  • Total cost: $550
  • Domain Rating (DR): 69
  • Ahrefs Rank: 10,8155
  • Referring Domains (DoFollow): 2,411
  • Total Keywords: 7,381
  • Estimated Organic Search Traffic/mo: 995
  • Domain Relevance: 1/5
  • Content Relevance: 5/5
  • Content Readability: 3/5
  • Grammarly Score: 93%
  • Word Count: 626

This link placement had some good qualities such as:

  • It is indexed
  • The content is readable and high-quality
  • The content is linking out to other quality sources and does have internal links
  • It has a legit author

But it also has a few issues.

The website is extremely general and it covers sports, lifestyle, culture, women, money, and pretty much every topic under the sun.

The content the link was placed in is loosely relevant (and that’s a stretch).

The client is a personal injury lawyer and the article is about “The Best Natural Teeth-Whitening Methods”.

It is linking to a linkable asset about “chemical burns from defective whitening products” on the client’s site.

This is good. But overall, it’s quite the stretch.

However, the biggest issue I found was with the link profile. What I’m about to show you were a common trend among poorly-rated links in this case study.

It is the presence of public blog network links.

I believe that these links are built by the people who paid for the links.

I don’t believe the host website built them in most cases. There are always exceptions to the rule.

However, this type of tier two link building is used to increase page authority. Which in theory, makes the link “stronger”.

Placement #3 (1/5)

Remember when I said I would show the good and the bad?

Well, this placement was an example of the bad (but probably not why you think). You see this placement has great metrics, good content, and a solid link profile.

So, what’s missing?

The client’s link was removed!

I’m not sure whether or not this link was replaced by Page One Power.

But if it wasn’t, that’s $550 flushed down the toilet and missed opportunity for a link to age.

This was the only “bad” link I analyzed from Page One Power.

Page One Power Review

Page One Power is the real deal. So, if you have the budget, you should consider working with them. They understand how to build links in a natural and safe way. They clearly vet every link opportunity and they’re doing great work.

My only recommendation for them is to watch out for author footprints.

I noticed that the same author was used for a large percentage of the links they were placing. These leave a big footprint.

2. Fat Joe

Fat Joe offers a popular blogger outreach service. The service is priced based on Domain Authority (DA) from Moz and it ranges from DA 10 – DA 40.

In most cases, I would avoid websites in the DA 10 + range because they’re A) too weak and B) not high-quality.

Hence the reason why they’re low authority. You can, however, use lower authority links to grow the authority of tier one placements.

Link Placement #1 (5/5)

  • Total cost: $253
  • Domain Rating (DR): 16
  • Ahrefs Rank: 10,523,902
  • Referring Domains (DoFollow): 163
  • Total Keywords: 2,518
  • Estimated Organic Search Traffic/mo: 463
  • Domain Relevance: 4/5
  • Content Relevance: 5/5
  • Content Readability: 4/5
  • Grammarly Score: 66%
  • Word Count: 1,351

We purchased a DA 30 + placement and was quite impressed by the quality and results. The link went live around May 3rd:

The target site was in a very linkable niche, but we liked several key parts of this placement.

1. It has a natural and relevant link profile

2. The content was great

The content was long and was filled with quality external and internal links. It also had a strong readability score and was topically relevant to the target site.

3. The site is active and relevant

There aren’t many links on our list that received a 4 or 5/5 on site-level relevancy. This one scored a 4. It wasn’t 100% relevant, but it was a closely related niche.

Link Placement #2 (1/5)

  • Total cost: $60
  • Domain Rating (DR): 25
  • Ahrefs Rank: 6,041,323
  • Referring Domains (DoFollow): 398
  • Total Keywords: 237
  • Estimated Organic Search Traffic/mo: 33
  • Domain Relevance: 3/5
  • Content Relevance: 4/5
  • Content Readability: 2/5
  • Grammarly Score: 78%
  • Word Count: 560

This placement received a poor rating for several reasons.

1. The page isn’t indexed

Always copy and paste the page hosting your link into Google. If it doesn’t show up (as long as you give it a few weeks to be crawled), then there’s a problem. If the page isn’t indexed, then your link is worthless.

Plain and simple.

2. The site isn’t secure

It’s a pretty well-known fact that Google cares about security.

That’s why they’re labeling websites without SSL certificates as “Not Secure” on Google Chrome.

3. The content has outbound links, but they look like other paid links

I don’t whether this vendor placed these links or the host website did. Either way, it looks like a link farm.

4. The site has turned into a hub for paid links

Every new blog post is thin and crammed with paid links. It’s safe to assume that getting a link on this site is practically worthless.

5. The link profile is weak

The link profile has barely (if any) editorial links and is filled with the directory, profile, and web 2.0 links.

Fat Joe Review

Fat Joe is a solid link building service as long as you use it the right way. I would stay away from the DA 10 + on tier one (but it’s probably safe to be used on tier two).

I also recommend upgrading the content length when you order. Most people likely purchase the default word count and this leaves a footprint.

Lastly, promote linkable assets instead of transactional pages.

3. The Hoth

The Hoth is one of the most well-known link building company’s in the SEO industry.

They have a very successful company, but how’s the quality of their link building strategy? Keep reading to find out.

Link Placement #1 (5/5)

  • Total cost: $300
  • Domain Rating (DR): 90
  • Ahrefs Rank: 735
  • Referring Domains (DoFollow): 27,951
  • Total Keywords: 200,828
  • Estimated Organic Search Traffic/mo: 39,414
  • Domain Relevance: 1/5
  • Content Relevance: 5/5
  • Content Readability: 4/5
  • Grammarly Score: 91%
  • Word Count: 630

We ordered from The Hoth GP link building agency and for the criteria type, we select “Traffic” and 10,000. I know a lot of people have opinions about The Hoth, but this placement was excellent for our backlink profile.

Not only did the link building campaign meet our criteria, but it’s actually already producing results in our search engine rankings.

There were a few elements I loved about this backlink building:

1. It’s on extremely authoritative quality websites and web pages

The metrics on this placement are nutty (as you can see above). This is definitely an over-delivery of what I ordered. That’s a good thing.

For a website to be this authoritative, it’s guaranteed to have a strong link profile.

2. It’s very editorial

The article is topically relevant, professional, and well-edited. This link building partner definitely bid on quality content creation. The target link anchor text is also surrounded by other relevant links.

Link Placement #3 (3/5)

  • Total cost: $180
  • Domain Rating (DR): 34
  • Ahrefs Rank: 2,361,323
  • Referring Domains (DoFollow): 955
  • Total Keywords: 6,349
  • Estimated Organic Search Traffic/mo: 1,110
  • Domain Relevance: 1/5
  • Content Relevance: 3/5
  • Content Readability: 3/5
  • Grammarly Score: 74%
  • Word Count: 596

The Hoth was in a tough situation with this client because they are in the legal space. It would have been much easier for them to land a relevant link if the client was promoting a linkable asset (instead of their homepage).

That said: their link-building tactics were decent, but it had some issues.

Here’s the good:

  • The link is indexed
  • The link is surrounded by external and internal links
  • The content is topically relevant
  • The content quality is decent
  • It’s a real website
  • The site has real traffic

It has some quality links:

But the bad part about this link placement is the other part of this site’s link profile. It’s littered with public blog network links:

The biggest giveaway of network links is when a website has a ton of homepage links. It’s extremely rare to have homepage links, so when you see it, it’s a red flag.

Here’s what the network site looks like:

The other negative side of this guest posting placement is that it’s not relevant on the domain side.

Link Placement #3 (1/5)

Where do I start with this one?

The client ordered a link from The Hoth’s guest post service and they received a link on a web 2.0 (Weebly).

Just so you’re aware, web 2.0s are not editorial links. Anyone can create a free account on Weebly and create what you see above.

These links worked well several years ago, but now they’re practically worthless.

Plus… that’s not what the client ordered.

The Hoth Review

Everyone in the SEO community has an opinion about The Hoth, but the links I analyzed were pretty solid.

I recommend selecting “traffic” as your criteria when you purchase links from them. And like Fat Joe, avoid low authority placements (DA 10 +).

Honorable Mention (Future Top 3?)

This section is dedicated to link building services that we believe have potential. However, we haven’t invested enough capital to make a fair assessment of their link quality.

RhinoRank

RhinoRank offer two different types of link building services: guest posts and curated links. Their curated links service will get you placements within existing content.

I’ve seen mixed results with their curated links. Some are great, some are really low-quality. I’ll report back soon.

Audience Bloom

Audience Bloom (now SEO.co) was founded by the prolific online writer, Jayson DeMers. They used to only provide link building services, but now they offer a wide array of services.

That said, we have a lot of link data from them and I’ll let you know how they are soon.

Authority Builders

I’ve tested and analyzed a few links from these guys. It’s a great service because you get to select what website your link will be placed on.

Authority Builders is also operated by a standup guy, Matt Diggity.

Loganix

Most of my experience with Loganix is with their local services. However, we’re currently testing their links. They let you pre-approve their placements and the company is run by Adam Steele.

Adam deeply cares about customer experience, so I’m sure their services are great. I’ll report back soon.

There are few other services that we’re looking into such as Click Intelligence, Love to Link, and SEO Butler as well.

Big Takeaways

Analyzing these link building services was fun, thought-provoking, and grueling at the same. Through the process, I realized a few things.

1. There are no perfect link building services (and that’s fine)

Getting perfectly relevant links with impeccable link profiles is nearly impossible.

The point of a link building service is to help you offload one of the most time-consuming tasks in SEO.

So, you have to ask yourself:

Is a 4-star link acceptable if you don’t have to think about doing the work?

The answer is “yes” for me personally.

Sure.

In a perfect world, you would only have impeccable links in your profile.

But that’s not even natural.

A “natural” link profile will have a wide array of websites.

Some strong. Some weak. Some amazing. Some terrible.

THAT’S NATURAL.

2. If you’re going to use link building services, then do this:

  • Create and promote linkable assets instead of transactional pages. Watch this:

  • Only invest in higher authority opportunities (generally avoid the DA 10 – DA 19)
  • Less is more
  • Invest more to get deeper content/higher word counts
  • Use natural anchor text
  • Recommend the external links you want your link to be surrounded by

3. Your niche really matters…

You can’t expect to get 100% relevant links when you’re in a narrow niche. That’s why creating linkable assets is so important.

4. You (usually) get what you pay for

More expensive placements are usually better while cheap placements are worse. Common sense here.

That’s All (and What’s Next)

We’re going to continually update this list to keep it fresh. That means that some vendors may fall and others may enter the top 3.

I hope this was helpful and please share it if it was!

Thanks for reading.

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40 + AMAZING Email Marketing Statistics (for 2020)

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Do you want to get an overview of what is happening in email marketing right now? Do you yearn to discover what types of emails are most successful, and what the future holds for this marketing type?

Well, then you have come to the right place. Indeed, below you will find statistics on each of the following categories:

  • Email marketing and customer engagement
  • The impact of emails on conversion rates
  • The use of emails in customer support
  • Whether customers prefer email to other forms of communications
  • The future of email marketing

You’ll also find a brief introduction and summary on each section and a final summing up at the end. So what are you waiting for? Roll your sleeves up, crack your brain open, and get into some seriously sexy email stats!

1. Email Usage & Engagement

Anyone telling you that social media has killed off email marketing is sorely mistaken. Indeed, with so much potential to nurture relationships with customers and acquire new ones, email marketing is most definitely still alive and kicking.

Oh, and did you know that email marking is one of the most cost-effective kinds there is? Something that makes it pretty much vital to any successful and on-budget marketing campaign. Yep, that’s right email most definitely still holds its own in the world of marketing, and you can see there are plenty of stats to prove it below:

  1. 3.9 billion globally used email in 2019 (Statista).
  2. Global email users will grow to 4.3 billion by 2023 (Statista).
  3. In only 2019, 293.6 billion emails were sent and received per day. (Statista).
  4. It is expected that the number of sent and received emails will grow to over 347.3 billion daily emails in 2022 (Statista).
  5. Welcome emails get opened 82% on average (GetResponse).
  6. You can boost orders by 69% by sending three abandoned cart emails. (Omnisend).
  7. 35% of marketers send customers between 3-5 emails every week. (Not Another State of Marketing)
  8. Over the last year, 78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement (Not Another State of Marketing, 2020)
  9. 31% of B2B marketers report email newsletters are the top way to nurture leads. (Content Marketing Institute, 2020)
  10. Over 350 million dollars was spent on email advertising in the US in 2019. (Statista, 2019)

2. Email & Customer Support

There is plenty of noise about live chat and chatbots in the customer service sector right now. However, before you swap all of your customer service provision across to these tools, it may be worth taking a pause. The reason being that the stats show users still want to communicate, interact, and solve their problems via email. Indeed, email is an essential part of the customer service process. Just check out the stats below that prove it!

  1. Email remains the most used digital customer service channel, with 54% of customers using email customer service in 2019. (Forrester) 
  2. Response within the hour is what customers expect when they send an email to a business. (Toister Performance Solution).
  3. 62% of customers want to use email to communicate with a business. Beating phone, live chat, and contact forms (HubSpot Research)
  4. 57% of customers prefer to contact companies via digital media such as email or social media rather than use voice-based customer support. (Ameyo)
  5. 45% of executives with web or mobile self-service capabilities report noticeable reductions in phone inquiries, and 39% report less email traffic. (Information Today)
  6. 81% of retail businesses say reply on email for customer acquisition (Emarsys)
  7. 80% of retail businesses depend on email for customer retention. (Emarsys)

3. Email & Conversion Rates

While conversion rates for email marketing may not be quite as high as in 2018, the figures and the ROIs show that the email approach is still successful, a great deal of the time. Of course, a more targeted approach is preferable here, with triggered and segmented emails doing best.

  1. The average email conversion rate was highest in 2018 at 18.49%. (Barilliance)
  2. In 2020, the average email conversion rate remains high at 15.11% conversion in 2020. (Barilliance)
  3. Emails accounted for 19.8% of all transactions. Only paid search (19.9%) and organic traffic (21.8%) did better. (Custora E-Commerce Pulse)
  4. 306% higher click-through rate is what you can expect from Triggered Email Campaigns– vs. non-triggered emails. (Barilliance)
  5. 36% of total email revenue comes from segmented emails. (Barilliance)
  6. For every $1 invested, you can expect an average email ROI of $38. That is a 3,800% increase. (Barilliance)
  7. B2C marketers using automation have seen conversion rates as high as 50%. – (eMarketer)
  8. Conversion rates are used by 60% of marketers to evaluate an email’s effectiveness. – (DMA)
  9. Click-through rates can be raised by an average of 14% (and conversions by an average of 10%) by using personalized email messages – (Aberdeen.)
  10. Email has the highest conversion rate (66%) for purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message – (DMA)
  11. Conversion rates rise by 28% when a call to action button rather than a text link is included in an email. (Campaign Monitor)

4.Consumer Preferences With Email

Do customers like emails from your business? That is the critical question here. After all, you won’t want to send them if they will do more harm than good. Of course, the stats show that emails are still a very welcome form of communication from the users’ point of view and that they are associated with a range of other benefits as well, as you can see from the info below.

  1. 80% of respondents said email marketing drives customer acquisition and retention. (eMarketer)
  2. The type of email with the best customer response rate is Email My Cart at 22.64%. (Barilliance)
  3. 43% of consumers will choose whether to open an email based on who sends it. (MailChimp)
  4. 43% of email users will report spam if they don’t recognize the senders’ name or email address. (MailChimp)
  5. First thing in the morning is the most popular time for consumers to check their emails, with a whopping 58% doing so. (Optinmonster)
  6. 60% of consumers prefer email over any other promotional channel. (Optinmonster)
  7. Users check their emails for deals from brands at a rate of 44%. (Optinmonster)
  8. After receiving a marketing email, 60% of consumers have made a purchase. (Optinmonster)
  9. Consumers hope for rewards when signing up for marketing emails at a rate of 85%. (Disruptive Advertising)
  10.  Users open 40% of all cart abandonment (SaleCycle)

5. Email Forecasts & Predictions

What does the future hold for email marketing? Well, the answer, as you can see from the numbers below, is many things, including an overall rise in email daily usage. More personalization and better targeting are likely too. At the same time, marketers are likely to show more respect for customer privacy. Perhaps most notably, email marketing shows the potential further to increase business ROI by a massive 22%!

  1. By the end of 2022, over 347 billion emails per day will be sent and received. by the end of 2022. (Statista)
  2. By 2023 global email use is predicted to reach 4.4 billion. (Statista)
  3. By 2021 email clients such as Gmail will readily accept video, and it will be commonly used for email marketing. (Jarrang)
  4. Expect to see an increase of personalized images in emails in 2021, such as live-data weather reports. (Jarrang)
  5. Hyper-targeted emails will become the norm. (Campaignmonitor)
  6. Interactivity and animation are set to become the next significant trend in email marketing. Designmodo
  7. In the coming years, marketers will focus more on subscribers’ privacy, embracing privacy laws like GDPR or CCPA (Litmus)
  8. In 2020 and beyond, email personalization and segmentation will be increased and boost ROI up to 22%. (Litmus)

Final Thoughts

Despite the rise of newer forms of marketing, emails still have an essential role to play. Indeed, they continue to promote engagement in healthy numbers. Not to mention that they help to foster quality connections with potential customers.

Customers also prefer email contact when it comes to customer service, which is, of course, a massively important aspect of customer retention that shouldn’t be ignored. Indeed, providing the most positive experience for your customers by communicating with them in the form they choose is just good business. The reason being that you are much more likely to be able to present them with additional buying opportunities later on.

Target and segmented email continue to show excellent promise for high rates of conversions too. This means that if it’s an effective marketing strategy you are looking for, email is the answer.

Customers also continue to like emails over most other forms of communications. That they continue to open and respond to them, and they enjoy deals and rewards delivered via email. However, privacy is a significant concern for most users, and businesses need to respect this if they are to optimize their email marketing results.

Finally, things seem bright regarding what we can expect from email marketing in the future. Indeed, we can expect developments such as integrated video and personalized images to be commonplace, which will only make email marketing even more effective than it already is!

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Role of featured snippets in website traffic boost

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30-second summary:

  • Featured snippets account for a 35.1% share of all clicks.
  • The featured snippet and knowledge panel SERP give a better click-through rate together.
  • Users click on featured snippets that seem “informative”.
  • Users who prefer the regular search results listings don’t click on featured snippets.
  • “People also ask” boxes are an unpopular choice showing the lowest amount of clicks.
  • 24% of users consider a featured snippet as an ‘Ad’ and don’t click on it.

Featured snippets are probably the first thing people see when they perform a search query. Acquiring the position ‘zero’ on the SERPs, the featured snippets dominate the page and immediately capture the attention of the viewer. 

However, does it make an impact on the visitor? Do the featured snippets get more clicks when compared to the top results? How does the audience perceive them?

To answer these questions and more, we at Engine Scout recently conducted a study and analyzed how featured snippets influence searchers’ behavior and overall experience. 

The methodology applied for the featured snippet study

In our study on featured snippets, we collected data from 3552 testers, who were asked to look at four different SERPs with snippets. They were required to make a search on Google related to a specific keyword and make a selection from the results.

To collect an unbiased opinion, featured snippets were not mentioned anywhere in the survey.

There were three choices for the testers to choose from: Ads, featured snippets, and regular result listing.

They were later asked which section they clicked on to estimate the Click-through rate (CTR). 

Featured snippets - sections

What is a featured snippet and how does it boost website traffic?

The featured snippet is a summarized extract from a post that answers the user’s ‘search query‘ most accurately. It is placed above all the Google search result listings, occupying position zero.

This means no matter what your website’s ranking for a certain post if Google chooses a featured snippet from your post, it will appear on the top.

According to Ahrefs, it is 99.58% true that Google will only consider your content for a featured snippet if it is already ranking on Page #1. The other 0.42% pages that Google considers account for their ‘People also ask’ box SERP feature. This feature only receives a total of 6% click shares, for the same reason.

The ‘concise and direct‘ nature of these featured snippets motivates users to click on them. According to our study, they account for 35.1% of all clicks which translates to getting ‘extra traffic‘ to your website. 

Optimizing a post to rank for a featured snippet can be tricky. Any content can be worthy of becoming a ‘Featured-Snippet,’ including a paragraph, a list, table, or even a video.

Try these three quick strategies to win more featured snippets that get clicks to your website.

1. Include direct answers to a search query in a paragraph snippet

Paragraph snippets account for 82% of the total featured snippets.

These snippets give the most relevant response to a query in a paragraph form. They usually also display a pertinent image alongside or above the text.

Here is an example of how Google shows a paragraph snippet when asked about ‘What is SERP?

2. Make the best use of keywords in your paragraph

Attaining the first rank in Google for a keyword requires quite an effort. 

Enriching your optimized content for featured snippets with the right keywords increases your chances of that ‘Position Zero‘ in the SERP.

Try to include question-oriented keywords in your content. People find search results with keywords resonating with their question as “trustworthy” and “informative.” This is the primary reason why they prefer a featured snippet over all other organic results.

Take a close look at your competitor’s featured snippets for some inspiration. Make a list of keywords that have triggered a featured snippet for them, and make your content surrounded by these keywords.

Several online tools can lessen your workload by retrieving information and keywords from the competition’s snippets. You can use them if you find it time-consuming to manually optimize your content for featured snippets.

3. Include a knowledge panel in your content marketing strategy

A box with information relevant to a search query appearing on SERP’s right panel is called a Knowledge Panel

It only appears when the search is about an entity, for example, business, person, or location. The information inside this box lets the reader know about the entity and gives them a way to reach out to it.

Featured snippet alone offers a close competition to the organic listing for the total click share. 

But pages ranking for both the featured snippet and the knowledge panel outperform the organic listings for the CTR. A double featured snippet leaves behind the CTR of organic listings, getting 42.1% of the total click share.

Therefore, it is an added benefit if you strategize your featured snippet to trigger a knowledge panel. 

For reference, check out this post to see how Gennaro Cuofano structured his featured snippet with his Amazon author page reference. Google considered this reference and used it to display a knowledge panel alongside his featured snippet.

The other side of the story

Featured snippets can sometimes work opposite to their intent.

According to our study, 24% of users confuse featured snippets for Ads.

Featured snippets and how people confuse them for an ad

Therefore, merely optimizing content to target the featured snippet doesn’t ensure a high CTR.

Google keeps altering its interface to make the Ad label on the paid search results barely noticeable. 

As featured snippets also acquire the top position on SERPs, it is very natural for someone to get confused and not click them.

According to Dr. Pete Meyers, the Marketing Scientist at Moz:

“The lesson for SEOs is that we can’t just target a feature — we need to understand query intent, what our buyers expect from that feature, and how they perceive that feature.”

Try to make your content look like a straightforward, quick answer to a query with images for references to appear very different from an ad.

Wrap up

Google introduced the featured snippet to make it easy for searchers to find relevant answers quickly. With voice search technology becoming a common search tool for half of the smartphone users,  featured snippets catered to the trend and enabled users to read the answer out loud.

To make Google identify your content worthy to pick snippets from, you have to optimize your content so it’s relevant and appropriate for voice search SEO, so it helps to bring in more traffic to your site. 

Jonathan Gorham is Co-Founder at Engine Scout Digital Marketing. He can be found on LinkedIn.



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What you need to know and five steps to prepare for 2021

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30-second summary:

  • Google page experience metric goes live in 2021.
  • Rewarding pages that offer a better user experience.
  • The signal measures a site’s performance, security, and mobile-friendliness.
  • To prepare for 2021, get a fast web hosting service, optimize your content for mobile users, and install security measures (firewall, SSL, etc.).
  • Avoid pop-ups and whole screen banners that restrict the visitors’ access to content.

The newest search ranking benchmark that’s cooking in Google’s development lab is the Google page experience metric. 

In short, this upcoming metric aims to measure (and rank) the overall responsiveness and user experience of websites that show up in Google’s search results.

Google plans to introduce this metric alongside the current ranking factors. However, there isn’t an exact date announced when this metric goes live.

As Google’s developers officially state in their blog:

“The ranking changes [Google page experience] described in this post will not happen before next year [2021], and we will provide at least six months notice before they’re rolled out.”

You still have plenty of time to react. However, we suggest planning ahead and implementing some of the best practices as soon as possible.

Let’s take a look at what you can expect from this ranking update and how you can prepare your site from the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) perspective.

Elements of the Google page experience metric

Google is mainly building the new metric upon the Core Web Vitals that their Chrome team launched earlier this year.

The overall goal with Google’s page experience metric is to ensure the Google Search users are getting a mobile-friendly, safe, and straightforward browsing experience.

Let’s look at each element that contributes to the page experience metric.

1. Core Web Vitals

Google developed the Core Web Vitals because the average user enjoys fast and seamless web surfing. They also created a Chrome User Experience Report, which you can use to evaluate your site’s current performance according to these signals.

Google page experience metrics

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The Core Web Vitals consist of three separate signals:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – quickness of the largest content piece’s loading time.
  • First Input Delay (FID) – responsiveness to the user’s clicking, scrolling, and typing.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – visual stability of the page.

To tick a box in each of these signals, your pages’ LCP should be below 2.5 seconds, FID below 100ms and the CLS score less than 0.1.

2. Mobile-friendly site

Google already favors sites that are optimized for mobile users, and rightfully so.

Research conducted by Statista reveals that there are an estimated 3.5 billion smartphone users this year, with this number growing to 3.8 billion in 2021. It’s safe to say that sites that aren’t mobile-optimized will miss a lot of traffic. 

Therefore, it makes sense that Google only wants their search to display mobile-friendly sites.

3. Safe-browsing

Google puts a lot of emphasis on security and weeding out potentially harmful sites from their search results. After all, if the top search results harm users, it won’t look good on Google at all.

One of the signals with the upcoming page experience metric concludes if the indexed site contains any malicious or deceptive content. Some straightforward examples are malware, spyware, social engineering scams, and false information.

To get a sense of how this works, check out Google’s Security Issues report. You can also scan your website to see if any issues pop up at this time.

4. HTTPS

Following the security topic, Google also prefers secure sites with a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. Visibly, the difference is between http:// and https:// (where the latter is SSL secured) in the website’s URL.

The SSL certificate’s job is to encrypt any data that travels between the user and the servers. Even if a cyber attack occurs, the hackers are unlikely to make sense of the data.

If you’ve used the Chrome browser, then you might have come across a security warning with a suggestion that the connection is not secure. This is mainly due to the site missing an SSL certificate.

HTTPS - Google page experience

Source

5. No intrusive interstitials

Last but not least, Google aims to punish sites that aggressively keep the visitors away from quickly accessing the content they are looking for in the first place.

The main culprits here are the pop-ups that cover the entire screen, are difficult to dismiss, or keep popping up while consuming the content.

However, disclaimers, cookie usage information, age-sensitive content confirmations, login dialogs, and reasonably sized banners aren’t going to affect your ranking.

Google page experience - Remove interstitials

Source

Five steps to optimize your site for 2021

Google’s new page experience metric isn’t going to substitute the current ranking elements. It becomes an additional ranking factor, but the most essential part from an SEO perspective is still the quality of the content.

Still, since the page experience metric IS going to affect the ranking results, it’s a great idea to know what you can do to prepare.

Here are a few steps you can take to get your site ready for 2021.

1. Get an excellent web hosting service

Your site’s performance is already one of the key ranking factors today. Either you have a server in-house or using a hosting service, it’s wise to make sure your site is fast and responsive.

You can analyze your site’s responsiveness with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool or use a website performance monitoring tool such as Pingdom.

Additionally, you can check out sites that gather and share performance data on web hosting providers.

Example website performance data

Source

2. Keep your page’s size lite

Images go hand-in-hand with today’s websites. However, overstuffing your web pages with visual content is going to make your site slow.

There are a few ways to approach this problem, depending on the nature of your site.

You can optimize your images and make them weigh less by using an image compressor such as ImageOptim. If your page is already content-heavy, consider spreading the largest items to multiple pages within your site.

Alternatively, you can use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) such as CloudFlare to cache your content closer to the visitor’s access point.

3. Optimize your site for mobile

As we proved earlier, the world is heading rapidly to mobile. It’s not enough for your users to access your content with their smartphones; they also expect your site to adjust to the smaller screens.

Therefore, your site needs to be mobile-optimized. 

The good news is that most modern website creation platforms, such as WordPress, already have mobile-friendly templates that don’t require extra coding efforts.

You can quickly test if your site is mobile-responsive by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly testing tool.

4. Install security measures

Website security definitely deserves a separate article to cover all the bases, but let’s only focus on Google’s perspective.

First, don’t knowingly add any malicious scripts or deceptive content to your website.

Secondly, protect your site from malware and other hacking attempts by adding a firewall. While it’s not clear yet if Google will check your site for a firewall, you should have one in place either way.

And finally, install an SSL certificate that encrypts your data since Google is already keeping tabs on if a site is secure or not. However, most of the modern hosting services already include an SSL certificate with their plans.

Overall, investing in website security is worth it for peace of mind and from the SEO perspective.

5. Tone down or remove large pop-up banners

Google considers anything that keeps its users from accessing the content they search for as a nuisance.

Therefore, a piece of straightforward advice – don’t put a giant banner on your site. Make the promotion more subtle, and you won’t have any problems with Google.

As a reminder, cookie information, age-restriction policies, and login dialogs are the exceptions. Although, please don’t go overboard with these either for the sake of user experience.

Google page experience - Remove large pop up banners

Source

In conclusion

Google’s page experience metric will become one of the search ranking signals in 2021, but there isn’t an exact launch date yet.

Still, you can start preparing your site for the upcoming changes. Even if it’s unclear how much weight this new metric has on the search results, offering your visitors a great user experience is a substantial value on its own.

Start by testing your site’s performance, security, and mobile-friendliness. The results give you a pretty good idea of what to tweak and add to your site.

However, remember that the most important ranking factor is still the quality of the content.

Gert Svaiko is a professional copywriter and mainly works with digital marketing companies in the US and EU. You can reach him on LinkedIn.



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