Best snippet bait for buyers' guides? Tables or lists?

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What's Up Builders,

My site primarily consists of top-5 style buyers' guides, so I've put a fair amount of time and effort into thinking about how best to structure these posts.

The format is usually:
  1. Super short introduction
  2. Table or list of top 5 picks
  3. Description of pick 1
  4. Description of pick 2
  5. Description of pick 3
  6. Description of pick 4
  7. Description of pick 5
  8. What to Look for in an XYZ
  9. Frequently Asked Questions
  10. Other XYZ we Reviewed
The thing I'm still unsure about is what to use for point number 2: a lot of traditional affiliate sites use a comparison table, whereas a lot of newer sites seem to use a bullet point list of the top picks. There's also the Wirecutter approach of focusing on just the top pick in the introduction, but I'm not so keen on that.

Just recently, I switched from comparison tables to a bullet point list of top picks. I did this because 1) my competitors were doing it, and 2) I wasn't sure whether bullet points would give me a better chance of landing the featured snippet.

(In the last year, it seems that Google has moved away from using tables as snippets. No data to back this up, but I rarely see any of my tables landing snippets nowadays, and they used to quite often).

(I do however see competitors landing the occasional bullet point snippet).

Curious what your thoughts are? I'm almost tempted to switch back to tables for CTR reasons, but I think I need to get off my ass and finally run some proper tests.



Bonus question: How do you structure your meta descriptions for buyer's guides? Do you include any of the picks in the description? I've considered four approaches:
  • (Top Pick Only) Our favourite XYZ for ABC is the George Foreman Grill. It feature this, that, and offers the best portability and price. Click to read our full guide.
  • (Top Two Picks) Our favourite XYZ for ABC are the George Foreman Grill and the Feorge Goreman Grill. Click to read our full guide.
  • (All Picks) Our favourite XYZ for ABC are the Number One Grill, the Number Two Grill, the Number Three Grill, the Number Four Grill, and the Number Five Grill.
  • (No Picks) Our team of experts compared 15+ different portable grills on build quality, reliability, and portability. In this guide, we share the market's best.
But honestly, I'm not sure I can be bothered with meta descriptions. Google seems to ignore them for >95% of results...
 

Cash Builder

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Results will vary depending on the site and niche, so the best thing to do is test it yourself. Have one page with a comparison table, one page with a list, one page with both, and one page with none. See what page makes you the most money and go with that. Take into consideration the product value, traffic levels, etc.

For me, the best solution seems to be:
  • A comparison table of all products - this goes after the introduction
  • A comparison box of the best product and the cheapest product - this goes right at the top of the page and is the first thing the user sees
  • A text list of all products with bullet points - this can go anywhere in the article where the content needs to be broken up up a bit and is purely for featured snippet reasons
I've found the above works best for me, although I plan to do some more testing soon.

For the meta descriptions, I would go for something like the last one. You want users to click through to your page so the less information you give them the more likely they will click to find out more. But yeah, I don't spend much time on meta descriptions as half the time the search engines will create their own.
 

Ryuzaki

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Something to point out is that while it may seem like Google is drawing the featured snippet from a concise bullet point or numbered list from the top of one of these posts, they're very capable of compiling the snipped from all of the H2's or H3's, which are likely the names of the products.

I use self-coded comparison tables that require jQuery and more to stay pretty at different resolutions and do fancy things. That's the problem with tables if you want them to be nice. It won't likely be an HTML table as in <table> but a series of <div>'s. Too confusing for Google to work with, I think.

So if snippets are your goal and you aren't using a very simple, pattern recognizable format with H2's or H3's, then I'd roll with a list at the top. Honestly, with the vast majority of traffic being mobile, who cares about a table?
 

Cash Builder

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Something to point out is that while it may seem like Google is drawing the featured snippet from a concise bullet point or numbered list from the top of one of these posts, they're very capable of compiling the snipped from all of the H2's or H3's, which are likely the names of the products.
I've noticed this a lot, and I was under the impression that they only do this when there isn't a more structured option available. If they are pulling all of the h2s and h3s and making them into a bulleted list for the featured snippet, then I like to give them the option to just take a bulleted list from my page. I don't have any conclusive evidence that it helps, but I manage to snipe a lot of featured snippets this way.

So if snippets are your goal and you aren't using a very simple, pattern recognizable format with H2's or H3's, then I'd roll with a list at the top. Honestly, with the vast majority of traffic being mobile, who cares about a table?
For tables on mobile, I just have 3 columns - product name, image, and CTA. I hide the rest of the columns and it fits in quite well on mobile, and the majority of clicks on mobile still come from these tables. I agree though, it is hard to make tables look nice on mobile. This is the best solution I have come up with.