The central role of an SEO firm has always been the same: to move a client’s site as close to the top of search results while maximizing real estate on page one. But many details of that role have morphed over time. There are different ways of occupying and utilizing that real estate, and a good SEO firm must be expected to take them all into account.
One relatively new feature of search pages is the featured snippet. When users are looking for an answer to a direct question, or for simple instructions, they can now be expected to find it through a search engine without having to actually click through to a specific site. But the snippet that appears above all results is typically drawn directly from one of the leading result, and allows users to click through if they want to learn more.
These sorts of snippets represent a new goal for an SEO firm. Moving sites to the first page is invaluable, but if a site can get featured it this way it often means that it is the only thing a user will see after typing their search terms. For the owner of the featured site, this is both a blessing and a curse.
In the first place, by specifically targeting terms that result in featured snippets, an SEO firm can strive to shut out competition in a way that is not accomplished simply by being first among equals on page one. But on the other hand, this strategy may involve targeting terms that produce a remarkably low click-through rate.
Generally speaking, it is pointless to increase exposure to your site’s content if doing so doesn’t actually bring traffic to the site. But there are certainly ways in which your SEO firm and your web developers can make the snippet strategy more effective. It’s complicated work, but if you can identify the text that is likely to be excerpted, you may also be able to modify that text so users associate the answer to their question with your brand. Or you can design the snippet to give them the impression that there is additional valuable information to be found on your site.
This goes to show that the work of an SEO firm is more complicated than ever before, but it also demonstrates that the potential payoff of that work has grown over time, as well.