When you first started a blog you may not have realized how hard it would be to get traffic. Google’s search results page is a busy location with ads, carousels, knowledge panels, and featured snippets all working to push results down the page.
Unlike the rest, featured snippets are available to any site with great content and structure, and you can use them to get above the fold and claim the top spot in search results.
We’re going to dive into featured snippets and why you need them. We’ll share some tactics you can use to find featured snippet opportunities. Finally, we’ll share the formatting rules that help Google find your answer and, potentially, make it the best.
What are featured snippets?
A featured snippet is a partial answer to a question submitted through a Google search. It is contained in a box at the top of the search results page which is why it is referred to as Search Result #0.
A featured snippet is always a direct, easy to understand, answer to a question. It has the URL, the page title, and a link to the page with the answer. These answers are pulled directly from pages by Google and you can’t mark your page as a featured snippet.
Why do you need featured snippets?
It might seem strange, but featured snippets don’t get all of the clicks in a search. They will, however, steal some clicks from the #1 result.
When they’re in the search result the #1 ranked site will see clicks decrease to 20.6% from 26% clicks. If you take that 6% from the #1 result then you start to enjoy other benefits that improve your rankings in Google.
If you’re already #1 in search results, then you really need to claim the snippet and defend your clicks. You can see that a combination of #1 with snippets means total domination of the top half of the page to garner 28% (vs 26%) of all clicks.
When a page is well-optimized it leads to a 516% increase in sessions after you acquire a snippet. You’ll also see CTR increase from 6% to 8%.
You will also have an opportunity to appear in “other searches” via the people also ask boxes which use featured snippets for the answer 23% of the time.
Finally, featured snippets and voice search are closely connected. Google uses the featured snippet answer to provide results for voice search.
What types of featured snippets are there?
There are four types of snippet:
- Paragraph: Appears in a text block at the top of the search results. Everyone can benefit from earning these featured snippets.
- Video: A video from YouTube with the suggested clip is highlighted. This is a very good opportunity for anyone working with DIY, cooking, fashion, or beauty.
- List: A bullet or numbered list with the answers. As above, the list is great for DIY, and cooking, but also for financial, sports, music, film, tv.
- Table: The answer is provided in a table of at least 2 columns. Great for financial services, health, entertainment, sport teams, and more.
How can you find featured snippet opportunities?
The easiest way is to go with a paid tool, like SEMRush or ahrefs because they each offer a featured snippet tool. If you would prefer to avoid the pricey way, then you can still find great opportunities with free tools.
All your content efforts start with effective keyword research and claiming featured snippets is no different. Then put them into question form to find the easiest opportunities.
Featured snippets will also regularly appear in long-tail queries, so your long-tail keyword research is going to be important also. Keep search intent in mind and target the informational intent for a query like “broken wooden table leg”.
Put your new keywords into Google and look at the questions in the people also ask section. This is going to show you exactly which topics Google considers to be related to your keyword.
Low Hanging Fruit
Starting with your strongest content check how many posts are ranked in the top 10 but don’t have a featured snippet. Simply put the keyword into a range of questions and see how well you do.
If you have a well-ranked page or post without a featured snippet then find out who stole your featured snippet and where they rank. If they rank below you, then this is a great opportunity for you to claim Result #0.
How can you optimize for featured snippets?
Google will determine which content best matches the informational intent for the search query. If you do the on-page stuff well, like user-centered navigation and organization, then you can win the featured snippets.
You might find that you need to write longer articles to improve your chances of claiming snippets. Each article should aim to answer multiple, related, questions to increase the potential of claiming the snippets.
Each article should also use semantically related keywords to ensure you match the informational intent for each query.
How to get text or paragraph featured snippets?
- You will need great content; brainstorm and edit the answer a few times before posting.
- Use h2 or h3 headings for questions. The answer should be directly beneath wrapped in <p> tags. This will help the crawler find the information easily.
- The paragraph should address the question and answer it within 45-97 words or 293-752 characters.
- You can elaborate on the answer in separate paragraphs if needed.
- If you would like to get your image featured also, then use the keywords in your alt text.
- Provide landscape images in 4:3 at 600×425.
- Outbound links from authoritative sources are helpful with some pages having as many as 33.
- Google might also use the text from YouTube video descriptions in featured snippets.
How can you earn a list featured snippet?
- Include a brief overview of the steps in a list.
- For better CTRs include lists with more than eight items to truncate the list in the results.
- Longer descriptions can also help you get the “More items…” link in the featured snippet.
- Google will pull your h2 subheading into a bulleted list for some queries.
How can you win a table featured snippet?
- Provide useful facts and numbers.
- Structure your content well with numbers and facts close to the title.
- You don’t need to use a table on the page; Google can read the structure and create a table from your organized content.
- Your tables should fit between 4 rows and 2 columns with a maximum of 9 rows and 3 columns.
How can you get a video featured snippet?
- Provide your own transcription when uploading your videos.
- In the description, provide a reference text which uses lists and headings while following the video structure.
- Identify each of the steps in the video with the time-stamp with the same language in video and text.
- Provide clean, high-quality audio with simple steps explained with common verbs.
Optimizing your content for featured snippets takes a bit of time, and you may not see results immediately. On the other hand, the improved formatting of your posts will help your visitors navigate your content which should lead to longer time on site.
In the long run, optimizing for featured snippets is a great way to present your content in the most readable way for crawler and humans alike, and this will lead to improved rankings.