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SEO Tips and News for Content Marketers - Issue #4

Earlier this month, I did something I've never done before. I was reading a featured snippet and deci

SEO Tips and News for Content Marketers

November 26 · Issue #4 · View online
Each month, I curate articles that I believe will be interesting to SEO-focused content marketers. Please subscribe to receive future issues!

Earlier this month, I did something I’ve never done before. I was reading a featured snippet and decided to click through to read more of the article. Without thinking, I clicked on the featured snippet image instead of the article title.
I quickly realized my error when the result I arrived on wasn’t the same one I’d been reading in the snippet. But after I identified my mistake, I panicked a little.
The web has trained us that we can navigate it by clicking on images instead of links and still arrive at the right destination. But featured snippet images and articles aren’t always from the same URL.
I wondered: is it common for people to click the featured snippet image instead of the link? Is it more natural? And if so, how many clicks are sites losing to competitors because they have the featured snippet but not the featured snippet image?
As a writer, the images I use in my content are often more of an afterthought than a primary consideration. But as the SERPs become more visual, how our content utilizes imagery is going to become more important.

What Draws the Eye When Scanning Search Results?
This month, Nielsen Norman Group published the results of a two-year study where they tracked eye patterns as people viewed the search results.
Their findings: people no longer view search results sequentially (i.e. result #1, result #2, results #3, etc.). Instead, they scan the page in a zig-zag pattern as the more visual aspects of the SERPs catch their eyes.
The good news is that they’ve found that this “pinball pattern” gives lower-ranked results more visibility: “Even the 6th position received looks in 36% of cases.” The bad—and not all that surprising—news: the more visual and distinct the snippet, the more likely it was to get a look.
Making Your Search Results More Visual
There are some things you can do to create more visual search snippets. Structured data is obviously key for results like recipes and products. It’s also important to optimize your images. Ann Smarty provided some simple tips in this recent Content Marketing Institute post.
Image optimization is also particularly important when it comes to the featured snippet image because only 15% of featured snippet images are pulled from page-one search results. It’s not enough to just have the best, most snippet-able content. You need to have the best image, too.
Search Intent Plays a Big Part in SERP UX Optimization
Of course, not all queries produce visually diverse SERPs. Many queries just display the traditional 10 blue links and maybe a “People also ask” box. 
It’s important to search for the term you’re optimizing for before you get started—or at least to know which kinds of queries typically produce highly visual SERPs. 
ContentKing did a great job of breaking down what the SERPs look like for different search intents in their recent guide to UX and SEO.
Note: Image Traffic Can Cause Reporting Issues
If you haven’t historically been optimizing your images for search, it’s important to keep in mind how increased traffic from images can impact your reports. 
Check out this excellent post by AJ Kohn that explains how image search traffic can make it look like your conversion rate is lower than it should be—and can negatively impact your A/B tests.
Other Interesting Things I Read This Month
100+ GREAT Content Marketing Examples & Ideas – If you’re working on your editorial calendar for next year and need some inspiration, check out this new guide from Kyle Byers. It’s a filterable list of dozens of examples of exceptional content in all formats and from every industry.
Types of Content Hubs: 5 Approaches & 30+ Examples – I’m a huge fan of content hubs. I created one for a client two months ago; today, it’s ranking #4 in Google Search for one of the most important keywords for the brand. If you want to spend some time organizing your content into hubs in 2020, this post is full of great examples to draw inspiration from.
The ROI of Guest Posting – Luca Tagliaferro spoke with 20 people who frequently guest post on high-visibility sites to uncover the true value of guest posting. The bottom line: guest posting is great for building your reputation/brand visibility—not so great for backlinks or referral traffic.
Estimating Branded vs. Unbranded Clicks – My friend Michael Keenan built an awesome calculator that uses Google Search Console data and a ratio model to estimate how many visits your site gets from branded vs. non-branded keywords. It’s a great metric for measuring your SEO performance.
For those of you reading this newsletter from your homes in the U.S.: Happy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful that all of you take time to read my random musings each month, and I hope to see you next month!
Jessica Greene
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Jessica Greene Marketing LLC, PO Box 17633, Louisville, KY 40217