Google’s Featured Snippet is the latest edition in the search engine’s quest to give users quick and accurate answers to their questions. Getting into Google’s Featured Snippet is a great way to build more traffic to your site. But, how do you do that?
Well, here’s your answer.
Google’s Featured Snippet dominates the front page, gifting huge exposure to the business that holds the spot or spots Google selects for this coveted spot. That’s because users get a preview of the content to determine if it answers their question, which encourages them to check it out further.
If you want your business to benefit, here are my tips to help you on your way.
Let’s look at a featured snippet:
How does Google pick a featured snippet?
Like most things SEO, there’s no definitive answer, but there are a few solid clues. Research by industry titans like Moz, suggests that businesses should focus on the following to increase their chances of being chosen as Google’s Featured Snippet:
- How your article is formatted
- Your site’s authority on the search subject
- Your current ranking in the SERPs
- The speed, security, and reliability of your site
In other words, exactly the same tips that apply to all SEO issues.
A recent study showed that 97.1% of the time Google will select the featured snippet from the top 5 URLs on SERPs for a user’s search terms.
If your site is #1 already, you stand a pretty good chance of snagging Google’s Featured Snippet spot. But that’s by no means a certainty because only 30.9% of featured snippets are actually from the #1 ranking site.
Rather than spend hours slogging your guts out to get to #1, you’d be better of spending your time optimizing specifically for Google’s Featured Snippet. Here are some suggestions:
1. Only aim for Featured Snippets in your niche
Google wants to know that the information it provides users comes from a site that has authority on the subject.
And the same things that count towards your rank in the SERPs, also determine your likelihood of making it into the featured snippet. We’re talking citations (links to authoritative sites), on-site content (valuable content published on a consistent basis), and reviews.
So, if your site sells kitchen accessories, you’ll probably want to make the Featured Snippet for a search such as: ‘What are the best kitchen scales?’. For you to be authoritative enough to make it, you’d need to produce content about kitchen scales – e.g. product reviews, images, and descriptions.
You can find topics that will help you rank by checking out the “People also ask” section in a search response. Try to create content that will rank for each of the related search queries that come up.
2. Scout out your Google’s Featured Snippet competition
The best way to find out what Featured Snippets you should target is to find out what keywords your site currently ranks best for. Use an SEO platform like Ahref’s, Moz or SEMrush to get this valuable information.
Once you’ve identified likely candidates for a featured snippet, check out who currently hogs the spot. Ask yourself the following questions then optimize your content to out-compete theirs.
- What keywords are they ranking for?
- How have they formated their content?
- What format is the snippet in?
- Is their content up to date?
- Can I do better?
This last piece of advice is vitally important. To beat a competitor to a Featured Snippet your content needs to better answer the question and be optimized to appear in a featured snippet (more on this later).
3. Know your Featured Snippet formats
There are four main types of Featured Snippet, so let’s look at each in turn. And, because I really want you to nail this, I’ll include a top tip to help you ace each format.
The most common type of Snippet, paragraphs, give a full descriptive answer. Check out the Featured Snippet image posted earlier on an element to see an example of a paragraph featured snippet.
TOP TIP – Paragraphs are on average 43 words long, with a maximum 84 words, so keep your answer brief and concise. These paragraphs are often taken from content like FAQs or highly-specific blog posts.
There are two types of lists, numbered and bulleted.
Numbered lists are usually are step-by-step guides like the example above.
TOP TIP – Focus on longer lists so Google will have to truncate the results, meaning the user has to click through to read the full list.
Bulleted lists, which is essentially a list of subheadings within the post.
TOP TIP – Google won’t pick up your subheads or numbered list posts if you don’t use H2s to identify the subheadings, but, then, that’s a good SEO practice.
Tables crop up when someone types a comparison request into Google. The simplest example is a product comparison like “what is the different between Freshbooks and Quickbooks”, or “best desktop PC”.
TOP TIP – If you want to rank for tables, you need to write content that provides comparisons.
Videos usually pop up in the SERPs when a search query is framed around a demonstration. A simple example might be “How do I add header tags to my blog post in WordPress?” or even “How to play Dominoes”.
TOP TIP – it should go without saying that if you want to rank for a video, you need to actually produce video content. But beyond that, video content must optimize for search, so the title should clearly describe what the video is about and you should optimize the meta-description in a similar way.
Too many sites miss out on Featured Snippet spots because they don’t produce content in the format Google wants.
But not you… because you’re going to consider the questions FSs give answers to and then select and create the right format to answer those questions.
4. Optimize for Voice Search
Voice search is no flash in the pan. In fact, research shows that, by the end of 2020, 50% of all internet searches will be voice-based.
As the use of voice search grows, search engine algorithms adapt to recognize the natural speech used by voice searchers.
This trend means that more voice searches will lead to featured snippets answers and feature snippet queries will, in turn, become longer. Again, this advice aligns with general SEO advice. So, you should:
- Focus on Long-tail Keywords
- Respond to ‘How, What, When, Where, Which and Who’ questions
- Include conversational words like… well… ‘Like’ as well as ‘and, for,’ and more
5. Be Mobile-Friendly
Having a mobile-friendly site is already a priority. According to current research, the average ‘mobile-friendly’ and ‘mobile usability’ score of a featured snippet is 95/100 and 96/100 respectively.
This means that, if you score lower, you need to up your mobile game. To find out how well your site scores on mobiles, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
And remember, mobile-friendliness isn’t just about website responsiveness. Mobile users are particularly impatient and, if your website is slow, Google will not rank your content in the Featured Snippet.
So, make a few positive changes like finding a better web host, compressing data-heavy files used on your website or getting rid of any coding errors that might be slowing things down.
To sum up
Featured Snippets are the next big content marketing opportunity. Ranking in Google’s Featured Snippet guides a big proportion of the SERPs traffic your way. But a lot of competition for the spot exists and there’s a lot of confusion about how it works. You can get ahead of the curve by:
- Only trying to rank for niche-specific Snippets
- Understanding your Snippet competition
- Creating content that fits the Snippet formats
- And optimizing for voice search and mobile
Author Bio “Hannah Vicarage is a creative B2B content writer for ukwebhostreview.com. Her mission is ‘to unjumble the jargon’ to help businesses make SEO work for them.”
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