This is a guest post by Jainine MacStupson
Jainine MacStupson is a content creator for Fresh Essays. She is always on the lookout for new content formats and striving to deliver the best texts possible. In her spare time, she likes running and hiking.
Featured snippets have been around since 2014, and it seems like they are here to stay. This #0 Google search result that’s located between the ads and the #1 result is a paragraph, a list, or a table that answers the searcher’s question accurately and concisely.
So if you’re looking to increase the visibility of your website and the amount of traffic you get, it’s best to know what this Google’s creation is all about.
In this blog post, you will learn why you don’t have to rank #1 in Google to get a featured snippet, how to find featured snippet opportunities and how to optimize your content for each type of featured snippet.
Why Is It Important to Get a Featured Snippet?
There are a few good reasons why you might consider aiming for the #0 position. Here are some of them.
1. You don’t necessarily have to rank #1 to get a featured snippet.
It turns out, Google can pull the information from the site that’s #1 (right under the featured snippet), as well as from a totally different one.
According to the Ahrefs’ study of 2 million featured snippets, if there are no featured snippets, and your site is ranking #1, you will get 26% of clicks. If there is one, your number of clicks will go down to 19.6%, and 8.6% will go to the featured snippet. That’s most likely the situation illustrated above, where NN Group is stealing the thunder from WordStream.
Moreover, that same study has shown that if you rank in the top 5 of the search results, you have high chances of getting a featured snippet.
This seems counterintuitive. Why would Google choose, for example, a #4 result over the top one? Arguably, this happens when a #4 result is better structured and has a table, a list, or a paragraph that clearly answers the searcher’s question. While the #4 site might, in fact, be much weaker in terms of SEO.
2. The number of voice searches is growing.
Another reason to aim for #0 position is that featured snippets were specifically designed for voice and on-the-go searches. And by 2020 around 50% of all online searches will be voice searches. So why not prepare for the nearest future?
3. You become a credible expert in the eyes of the searcher.
When a user sees your featured snippet, they automatically think that if Google has chosen your answer, you can be trusted, and your site provides clear and concise information. Thus, you can become a go-to resource for that user.
How to Find Featured Snippet Opportunities
First, you can type a query that might benefit you in Google search and see if a featured snippet pops up. If there is one, you can start thinking about how to improve your post to provide a better answer, and how to structure it the right way.
Secondly, if it’s too time-consuming for you to check each query manually, tools like Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer can help you find the keywords that return featured snippets:
Ahrefs can similarly be used to track the queries you already rank for that have featured snippet opportunities. Try to improve and/or restructure that ranking post so that it has more chances to get picked by Google.
Another easy way to find opportunities is to check the People Also Ask box.
It’s almost always there, in the Google search results page, full of ready-to-use ideas.
What happens if you come across a search query that doesn’t have a featured snippet but you feel like it’s asking for one? This just means that Google hasn’t found a suitable information block for it yet. So just go ahead and create a piece of content that could answer the user’s question accurately. You might end up in the first-ever featured snippet for that query.
How to Optimize Your Content for a Featured Snippet?
Now that you have picked a keyword you’d like to rank #0 for, it’s time to think how you’re going to optimize your content.
1. Work to get into the #1 position.
While you have a good chance of getting a featured snippet being in the top 5, the above mentioned Ahrefs study shows that 30.9% of featured snippets are #1 results.
So, work on your on-page SEO and strive to provide a good user experience. Keep your content up-to-date, build quality backlinks, optimize for mobile search, and increase site loading speed. These are just some of the tips to get the top ranking.
2. Use the inverted pyramid structure.
This structure of a post has been used by journalists for ages. And Dr. Peter J. Meyers of Moz believes this is the right format to use if you want Google to pick your post for a featured snippet.
First, you provide the answer to the searcher’s question in a clear and concise manner. Then, you give details, arguments, and support those with data. In the paragraphs that follow, you can provide some examples to illustrate your points.
3. Optimize for each type of a featured snippet format
As was mentioned earlier, featured snippets usually return in a format of either a table, a list, or a paragraph.
Around 82% of featured snippets turn out to be paragraphs.
Go for this format if you want to answer the question-type queries:
- What is..
- Who is..
- Why is..
A study by SEMRush and Ghergich & Co., where they analyzed 6.9 million featured snippets, has shown that the length of a typical snippet is between 40 and 60 words. The example we saw earlier for what is conversion rate showcases the answer with 46 words.
So here’s what you can do:
- write the actual question as a heading and add the H2 or H3 tags;
- use the <p> tags when writing your 40-60 words paragraph.
According to the above mentioned SEMRush study, 52.20% of the how queries return a list-formatted featured snippet.
There are two types of lists:
- Numbered. You can create them to describe a step-by-step process, a recipe or give any kind of instructions.
- Bulleted. Use these lists when the order doesn’t matter.
To optimize for this type of a featured snippet, you can employ either of these tactics:
- Write one H2/H3 heading for all the bullets in the list and then write the bullets.
- Use list tags (<ul>,<ol>, <li>) and for each major bullet add an H3 heading so that Google can pull out each bullet.
Additionally, in both of the examples above, you can see the More items link. This can increase traffic to your site dramatically. So, try to use more list items whenever there is an opportunity. Google will then truncate the results, and the user will have to click on More items to get further information.
If a user is looking for a comparison of some sort, most likely a table-formatted featured snippet will appear. Google appreciates data with rates, years, prices, numbers, etc.
To optimize for a table featured snippet, again, use an H2/H3 heading and create an HTML table right under it so it’s easy for Google to locate it and pull it out.
It’s a good practice to use 4+ rows in your table to get that More items link and, ultimately, drive more traffic to your site.
Images and videos
Sometimes a featured snippet can be accompanied by an image or a video. Videos can appear for the how to queries, so they are an alternative to a list or a paragraph. Considering all this, it might be a good idea to know how to optimize for both of these formats.
An interesting thing about a featured snippet image is that Google can choose an image from a totally different source and not from the post that was used for the information part of the snippet.
So if Google picks an image from your site, it can be an extra source of traffic.
Here’s how to optimize for an image featured snippet:
- Take a look at the image that’s featured at the moment for your query.
- Find/create one that better corresponds with the query.
- Make sure it’s a high-quality original image and place it at the top of your page.
- Add the title and alt text that are relevant to the keyword.
Now, if you want to get your video featured, since videos mostly appear for the how to queries, much like with lists, you should write your video description in a step-by-step format. Don’t forget to add a heading that corresponds to the search query.
Featured snippets are a great way to get more traffic even if you’re not occupying the #1 position in Google.
Here’s a quick recap of how to optimize your content for a featured snippet:
- Work on your SEO, improve site loading speed, and optimize for mobile.
- Write in the inverted pyramid structure: first, provide the answer, then the details backed by data.
- Optimize for the featured snippet format you’ve picked—structure the content accordingly and add the HTML tags.
Have you tried optimizing your content for the Google snippet?