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Semantic SEO: More Answers, Less Clicks

Dean Cruddace

As an SEO, reverse engineering an algorithm is no fun. I don't do it, it does not appeal to me and I never want to do it. What does interest me though, is when new features in the wild appear. It gets my attention.

I recently caught a discussion on Google+ through Collin Davis & Edwin Jonk. It highlighted another instance where a Google SERP was scraping making best use of information from elsewhere, namely surfacing info right within the SERP itself.

This one mainly caught my attention because I did not remember it being part of Pete Meyers' 85 different SERPs. The closest it came was being similar to the medical answerbox (slide 50).

This one is a little different though, and on occasion it comes with a friend; namely, a paid search ad. How does it all work? 

Semantics, structured data and, intriguingly, sometimes no structured markup at all. If you are not up to speed on strings and things then it won't hurt to start getting your head around it.

So how does it work? Or less precisely, what's triggering it?

What? Why? How? When? seem to be the triggers, so I dug around to see if I could replicate it. This is the absolutely non-scientific-in-any-way look at a few variations.

How to Make Your Lipstick Last Longer

Query: https://www.google.co.uk/search?&q=how+to+make+your+lipstick+last+longer&pws=0


Contributing page

Schema: Schema.org

How to Make Spaghetti Bolognese

Query: https://www.google.co.uk/search?&q=how+to+make+spaghetti+bolognese&pws=0


Contributing page

Another from the BBC

What are the Ingredients in a Full English

Query: https://www.google.co.uk/search?&q=what+are+the+ingredients+in+a+full+english&pws=0


Contributing page

BBC Schema: DublinCore

How to Make Pancakes

Query: https://www.google.ie/#pws=0&q=how+to+make+pancakes


Contributing page

Schema: None

I would love to hear from those sites or even you (drill into your landing pages within Google Analytics) who see a reduction of click through because of similar searches against your own content.

I am resisting all temptation to turn into an angry, ranting SEO man. Instead, I encourage you to look beyond your keyword wish lists. Search has evolved into so much more than pinning your dreams onto a short list of vanity terms. They are not gone and forgotten, they are now structured.

Go and hook into semantic search; learn and evolve.

Without trying to turn this post into ego bait, where to start?

These guys are the ones I stalk for semantic information.

Author bio:

Dean Cruddace is an Online Marketing Consultant for Mediaworks in the UK. A keen interest in technical SEO and SEM since 2001, he is currently obsessed with Google Tag Manager.

Dean Cruddace

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

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Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

I'd like to see some research in this area. Less clicks? Who knows until we have some data

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

I obviously understand why they're doing it - increases time on their site, ads clicked, etc. However,
a.) I feel like Google should not be allowed to scrape and display your information without your permission,
b.) They're playing dirty. Webmasters create all of this content so people visit their site and see it. Yea, we can get 'excited' about the extra 'visibility' from Google but realistically, the average person isn't going to see your site or remember you. They just get the answer nicely wrapped up from Google. Besides the fact that, realistically, 90% of those info boxes will come from Alexa 1000+ websites.

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

How does having your content scraped by google and shown to someone without them ever having to visit your site help you in any way?
Cody James Miller

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Hi Dean,

some great examples there.

The example content I created (attached) is not scraped, so still encourages click-through thankfully. No mark up at all.

Worrying for some sites as those lists don't need clicks to get the info required. Smaller sites / businesses who rely on quality content to compete with larger fish could be effected.

Have found nothing from Google about this, just this reference link; https://support.google.com/web... "help improve Google search results".

Maybe Google could tweak that heading to; "Help improve our UX to the detriment of some quality content"....or something like that.


Cody Miller

Dean Cruddace

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Cody James Miller
Hi Cody thanks for taking the time to add your thoughts. It really is a catch 22. Have your content surfaced as THE one or disappear below another.

Personally I know which one I would prefer to be. I would still love to see whether this has helped or hindered Clickthrough rates.

On the flip side of that, are sites that are surfacing for these answerboxes seeing an uptick elsewhere through an implied trust or no difference?
Cody James Miller

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Dean Cruddace
How much click through and traffic has been effected is a really good case to study, as is your question re: increased trust.

As of yesterday, the same long tail term that was showing our content in an answer box, has been switched out for a Google service!

That's hard to compete with.

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