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User intent and rich snippets: top takeaways from BrightonSEO

brightonseo beach

Our SEO guru Kirsty attended the world’s largest gathering of search marketers in Brighton UK, to learn about the latest trends and research into all things SEO.


As always it was a packed day with four sessions, each with three info-packed presentations.


What always interests us are the overarching themes and concerns that emerge from all these talks.


Read on to find out what we discovered....


Rich Snippets

A rich snippet (aka rich result) is that box of info that appears at the top of the Google search results page. Here’s an example:

how to boil an egg

Three points to note about this:

  1. It’s at the top above other similar questions
  2. It gives you all the information you need
  3. The website the info has come from is NOT at the top of the organic search results (it’s #7)

Top of the list

That’s why search marketers got so excited about rich snippets. It’s a way of a website getting a link ABOVE the first organic result, usually a major player (such as the BBC, in this example).

Since we first learned of these four years ago, we’ve been gently writing website copy to try and get our clients into what has been called ‘position zero’. However, it isn’t easy unless you have a definitive answer to a question, or a list, or (in this case) a recipe.

And there’s another issue, which was really concerning both presenters and delegates at BrightonSEO. As per point 2, this rich snippet gives you all the information you need. So there is no reason to click through to the website - everything you need to know is on the results page. It’s a no-click result, and on mobiles, 72% of all searches result in a no-click.

Enhanced snippets

The solution is to provide enhanced snippets with extended information, so that there is an incentive to click through to the website. The simplest way to do this is to create a list and make sure it has several points to it! So, had the author of the egg question made it a seven step process, people might have clicked through to get the full process.

wheatstone bridge example

In this example, the rich snippet information is extracted from a PDF of instructions and popped into the rich snippet markup (meta data) on the website. So, what the person sees as a result of the search for “how to make a wheatstone bridge” is just a section of the information they actually need. A neat solution!

Kirsty’s view: Rich snippets come under the ‘nice if you can get them’ category. Presenter after presenter said they have worked long and hard to get rich snippets for their clients’ businesses - with very limited benefits in terms of click-throughs.


User Intent

Why do people search the internet? We’ve always said it’s because they have a problem and they need a solution, be it a product, information or a definitive answer. This is still 100% true, the difference being that those ‘problems’ have been defined as ‘intentions’ - why the user makes the search. 

  • Answers
  • Brands
  • Local resources
  • News and what’s new
  • Research
  • Shopping
  • Visual (photos, graphics, video)

This obviously has implications in everything we create online. The more intents we can fulfil with our website information, the better.

User intent in action

Several of our Akira clients have online e-commerce stores. The most successful also have information pages explaining the background to their products, their uses and their benefits. They also have FAQ pages filled with answers, and informative, useful articles posted on new developments and areas of interest. Some have videos too. It’s easy to see how their websites therefore tick all the the boxes above.

Kirsty’s view: User intent is crucial, and the way to fulfil it is to provide high quality, useful information. Google also likes this, because it fulfils their E A T criteria (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthy). As one speaker said, if you consider a search engine as an answer engine, and yourself as a digital librarian, your website will be geared towards helping people find the information they need. So, everything you post online becomes part of your search intent marketing strategy. Neat!


And finally…

You never ‘own’ a top SERPs position, i.e. #3 in Google. Everybody else is trying to get that position too, so it’s in a constant state of flux. Google keeps changing its algorithms, so the goalposts keep moving too.

Instead, concentrate on creating a quality website that real people find useful, and contain the right keywords to fulfil their various search intents. That’s what Google and other search engines really want to see - and will rank accordingly.


Need some help with your SEO?

Call us! We’re happy to help in plain English, without jargon or techie-talk, to assess your needs, find the stumbling blocks, and provide options to solve them.

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