Google’s Featured Snippet is the latest edition in the search engine’s quest to give users quick and accurate answers to their queries. Getting into Google’s Featured Snippet helps gain visibility for your content and build you as an expert, but it may hurt your traffic metric as users may get everything they need from the snippet without ever clicking through to your website. Still, Google’s featured snippet is seen by most SEO experts as valuable, so you should focus on getting your content into the featured snippet. But, how do you do that?
Google’s Featured Snippet dominates the front page, appearing in the #0 position in search. That position provides increased visibility to your content while stealing traffic from content in the #1 position in search results. In fact, when a featured snippet appears at the top of search results, traffic to content in the #1 position drops by nearly a third [source].
If you want your business to benefit from Google’s Featured Snippet, 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.
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.
A recent study showed that 97.1% of the time Google selects the featured snippet from the top 5 URLs on SERPs (search engine results pages) for a user’s search terms. Rather than spend hours slogging your guts out to get to #1, you’re better off spending time optimizing specifically for Google’s Featured Snippet. You’ll find your efforts far more fruitful faster if you aim for the #0 position of a featured snippet rather than aiming for the #1 position in SERPs. Here are some suggestions to land a featured snippet:
1. Optimize your SEO
Since featured snippets come from the 1st page in SERPs, your chances of landing a featured snippet are nill if you don’t rank on the first page. Hence, the same things that count towards your rank on 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), domain authority, backlinks, and reviews.
Obviously, keywords trigger a featured snippet and not all queries display a featured snippet in the SERPs. Focusing on long-tail keywords are most likely to yield a featured snippet for your content. Content that matches a number of different long-tail queries shows up more frequently in search, with some content garnering a Google Featured Snippet for over 2000 query terms.
2. 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.
So, if your site sells kitchen accessories, you’ll probably want to create content aimed at making it into the featured snippet for a search such as: ‘What are the best kitchen scales?’. If you want to be authoritative enough to make it in the featured snippet, you need to produce content about kitchen scales – e.g. product reviews, images, and descriptions with sufficient SEO to show on the first page of SERPs for these keywords.
You can find topics that help you rank by checking out the “People also ask” section found after the featured snippet in many queries. Try to create content that ranks well for each of the related search queries that come up.
3. Scout out your Google’s Featured Snippet competition
The best way to find out what featured snippets you should target is to find keywords used in your content that already appear on the first page of SERPs. Use an SEO platform like Ahref’s, Moz, or SEMrush to gain 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 their content and steal the featured snippet.
- 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).
Another way to get your content in the featured snippet is to use Answer the Public to find questions commonly asked by users. Below is an example of the results you get related to apple pie. Look at all the options for creating content where you might get a featured snippet.
4. 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 for a good example of a paragraph featured snippet.
TOP TIP – Paragraphs are on average 43 words long, with a maximum of 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 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. This improves your click-through rate and traffic.
Bulleted lists, which share advice with no specific orderedness to the results. Other bulleted lists that show up in Google’s Featured Snippet are essentially a list of subheadings within the post.
TOP TIP – Google won’t pick up your subheadings from posts to display as featured snippets unless 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 different between Freshbooks and Quickbooks”, or “what is the best desktop PC”.
TOP TIP – If you want to rank for tables, you need to write content that provides comparisons and format content as tables in your content. For a good example, check out this post with a table listing 16 differences between traditional and digital marketing.
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 be optimized for search, so the title should clearly describe what the video is about and you should optimize the meta-description in a similar way to ensure good SEO. Video content on your website must focus on additional SEO best practices, including meeting the minimum word count. A great example is the Whiteboard Friday post shared by Moz every week. The video content is uploaded to YouTube, then embedded in the post along with a transcription of the video to ensure a sufficient wordcount to rank well in SERPs.
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 users ask, give answers to them, and create content in the right format to answer those questions.
5. 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
6. 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 than these values, you must up your mobile game. To find out how well your site scores on mobile devices, 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 slow 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 search 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:
- Doing a great job with SEO
- 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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