In order to get traffic from Google, you need to be able to stay up-to-date with all of the search engine’s features. This can be tricky since Google is continuously changing their features. On top of that, in order to rank for them, you need to know how each feature works. Plus, you have to watch your competition.
If you take a look at Google’s search engine results, you will see that it is far more than just simple links like it was years ago. In fact, if you were to type in a term or phrase, the first thing that you see now is what are called featured snippets. These are gaining in popularity year after year, but why?
The reason featured snippets are so popular is because they offer quick, convenient, and easy-to-read answers to the questions that people have. There is no need to click and read through a bunch of stuff in order to locate what you are searching for.
Now, featured snippets aren’t just for searchers, though, as they can be helpful for marketers as well in the way that they offer the ability to get a leg up on competitors, drive traffic and boost conversions. In fact, research shows that content with a featured snippet has click-through rate that is 2x higher than content without a featured snippet. That is significant.
If you aren’t familiar with Google’s featured snippets, then you may be confused right now. So, what are they, and what can you do to optimize your content for them in terms of ranking? Read on to find out.
What Are Featured Snippets?
Regardless of whether you realize it, you have likely seen a number of featured snippets when you have been searching for something on Google.
The positions that featured snippets have on Google is frequently referred to as “position zero”. The reason for this is due to the fact that they take up the majority of the space on the SERP. Plus, they are typically located at the top of the page as well.
For example, let’s say that you want to search for “how to change oil in your car”.
Google will provide an answer to your search with a snippet that contains the information regarding your question at the top of the search page above all other links. As a general rule, this information is pulled from one of the pages that is ranking on the first page of the SERPs, though it can sometimes be pulled for a lower ranking link on the SERPs.
These featured snippets make it easier than ever to find the answers that you need simply because you can view the information without having to click on a link. These snippets may include bullet points, number lists, and more. It may even be a brief paragraph, as long as it answers your question.
Now that featured snippets are a thing, it is more effective, helpful and important to rank for featured snippets than the #1 position because they are more effective at driving traffic to your site. One main reason is because of the amount of space they take up. They literally dominate the search engine results pages, while also giving you an excessive amount of exposure. At the same time, they can give your company’s credibility a huge boost – far quicker than other method – and you won’t need to pay additional fees for advertising in order to rank for them nor will you need to #1 in your industry.
Regardless of a company’s size or budget, they can earn the position zero spot as long as their cards are played right. Of course, there is no particular formula for obtaining a featuring snippet. So, if you do gain that spot, you may not stay there forever. Google can always decide that another page is better suited for it.
The easiest way to gain that coveted position zero spot is to always create quality content and ensure that it is formatted in a way that is loved by search engines, particularly Google. In other words, your content must be formatted so that it is “snippable,” otherwise it won’t be recognizable by Google. If you currently have links that rank high, then you are in luck.
According to Ahrefs, more than 99.5 percent of currently-ranked featured snippet pages are in the top 10 SERPs for search queries. This is why you stand a solid chance of earning the position zero for search queries that you currently highly rank for.
However, it has been reported by Getstat that 70 percent of featured snippets actually come from websites that do not have a top organic ranking. So, if you don’t rank well for a search term, never fret, as there is still a chance for you as well!
Research shows that you have a higher chance of getting featured as a snippet if you focus on health, finance or DIY than other industries. One study found that the following five search query terms increase your chances of getting featured:
Forms of Featured Snippets
As briefly mentioned, there are different forms of snippets. There are three main types: 1) paragraph, 2) list, and 3) table. For paragraph-style snippets, Google provides an answer to the web user in text instead of a list. In some cases, an image will accompany the text. For list-style snippets, the answer will be in list format, such as bullet points or numbered lists. For table-style snippets, the answer will be in table format.
GetStat reports that the most popular form of snippet is the paragraph-style snippet (nearly 82 percent of all snippets).
In order to rank for featured snippets, you need to first determine the featured snippet type that your competition is ranking for. Then, you can move on to the next step.
1. Find Competitors’ Featured Snippets with SEMrush
SEMrush is one of the best analytic tools that you can get your hands on, and it can also be used to locate featured snippets. It can be used to determine which snippets that your competition have earned in addition to which ones that you are currently ranking for. You simply need to run a standard domain search and click on “Organic Research”. Next, click on “Featured Snippet,” which is located at the bottom, right-hand side of the web page. You can use the “Advanced Filters” to filter certain keywords.
Once you have determined the snippets that your competition is earning, you can then begin to optimize your own content for the same topics and keywords. When working on your snippets, make sure that you watch out for different variations of keywords that you may be able to rank for.
Keep in mind that SEMrush is not the only tool that can be used to locate featured snippets.
2. Uncover Snippet Prospects by Using Google
A good way to locate snippets to optimize your own content for is to get into the shoes of your audience. What types of questions are others attempting to locate answers for?
An individual new to marketing and needs to become familiar with common terms there are a number of questions they could type in. After all, there are many acronyms and terms that come off confusing and overwhelming at first when you don’t know what they are and mean.
Do a short, simple search like: “What does CTA mean in marketing?”
For this query, the featured snippet that comes up is a paragraph. For the one that you type in, it could be a table, a bullet point list, or a series of steps. If you are really lucky, the featured snippet may be yours. If it is not, look at the section “People Also Ask”. These are questions that are related to the current search. If you are interested in the snippets for those queries, simply click on the phrase.
3. Go to Answer the Public for Content Ideas
Questions are the most likely search queries to pull up featured snippets. Therefore, you need to be able to answer the most important things: what, where, when, why, who or how.
To find out questions that people may be asking about certain topics, you will want to go to a website called Answer the Public.
Simply type in the topic that you are interested in learning more about, such as designer handbags, and a wealth of suggestions will come up for questions that are related to that particular topic. You can pick and choose the questions and then answer them in your content. Try to stick with an angle, such as the “why” or the “when” and only focus on that particular section. Then, just choose one of the questions in that group and start composing your content.
Just make sure that you don’t overlook the importance of keyword research, as you need to ensure that your keywords are SEO-friendly. Speaking of…
4. Do Your Research on Keywords
If you aren’t doing keyword research, you need to get started doing it now. Keyword research is an important part of optimizing your content for featured snippets. Don’t hesitate to use a tool, or even two tools, to help you with this process.
One good tool is called Serpstat, as it will show you the keywords that will pull up featured snippets. Simply type in a particular domain, link or keyword and then hover over the result to see if there is a featured snippet for it. This will help you see if your competitors have snippets that they are ranking for.
In addition, if you are currently ranking for a certain keyword, it is helpful to know if Google is pulling up snippets for it. If they are, then you want to rank for it by determining and, ultimately, answering questions that searchers have. You just need to make sure your content is properly formatted with relevant tags.
5. Answer Several Questions in Your Content
Research shows that once a page has earned the position zero spot that it is more likely to be featured in related search queries. So, what exactly does that mean? Put simply, it means that you need to format your article so that it answers more than just a single question. In fact, it should answer several related questions.
If you want to earn numerous features snippet positions, then you should create one really strong article that answers multiple questions instead of creating multiple articles that answer individual questions.
6. Maintain Optimal Word Count
In order for Google to feature your content in position zero, your content needs to be concise and tight. Make sure that your paragraphs, lists and steps are sectioned off – don’t allow them to run together.
SEMrush reports that most featured snippets are somewhere between 40 and 50 words. Therefore, you need to attempt to keep every section of your content no less than 40 words and no more than 50 words.
The best thing that you can do is to go to Google, type in questions, and take a look at a variety of featured snippets. Doing your research and seeing what other snippets look like will help you as your format your content.
7. Utilize Headers
As you are creating your content, you want to ensure that your sections are broken up. The easiest and quickest way to do this, and so that it still looks good, is to use headers. In WordPress or Google Docs, you can go to “Paragraph styles” to do this.
Headers should be used to organize your paragraphs, lists and/or steps. H2 is recommended, but you can use anything from h1 to h4. If you are using h1 as a title, then h2 would be a header and h3 would a subheading. Make sure you go in order to keep things consistent.
Also, if you decide to add “Rule 1, Rule 2” or “Step 1, Step 2” to your heading phrases, they will be placed in chronological order by Google. Therefore, make certain that your article is formatted in chronological order as well, as this increases the chances of it being featured.
8. Create a “How-to” Section on Your Website
Featured snippets create the perfect chance to gain website traffic and new leads, which mean that it is a good idea to redesign your website in a way that will allow you to optimize how-to-based content. Some sites create an entire section that is specifically designated for providing answers to questions from their readers, such as Lowe’s designated How-to Library. In doing something like this, you are giving your how-to content somewhere to “live” on your website.
If you are not interested in a how-to library on your website, you may want to consider a Q&A section instead. This area could be designated for answers to FAQs that are brought up regarding your services, products and/or industry.
9. Incorporate High-Quality Video and Images
Some people prefer to learn visually, so it is important that you consider incorporate images and videos into your text. In fact, doing so can help you rank for Google’s featured snippets.
The great thing about adding images is that it can be really easy, especially when you use a tool like Canva, which you can use to create your own unique images. You can use one of their stock photos or upload your own. Next, you can add free icons, shapes and more to your image.
Now, don’t overlook the importance of video. Research shows that 65 percent of people will watch three-quarters of a video at minimum. When text is combined with video, nearly 60 percent of executives say that they think individuals are more likely to watch the video. An easy way to do this is make sure your videos have a video transcript with them. Google will detect the text and then possibly choose it for position zero. Just make sure that your video is high-quality and that your transcript includes your keywords.
It is true that it can be exhausting keeping up with everything that Google does. However, featured snippets are going to be around for a while it looks like, as they are dominating the search queries (meaning they are the very first thing you see in most of the SERPs).
If you can earn a featured snippet, then you will rank for the highest possible spot (position zero) in the search engine results with zero advertising. This will help you get more traffic to your site, boost conversions and beat your competitors.
Now that you have become familiar with featured snippets, you no longer have an excuse to not try to actually rank for them. We have gone over everything you need to do to do just that – find out the snippets that your competitors are ranking for by using Google and SEMrush, find content ideas on Answer the Public, answer multiple questions in one article, maintain a brief word count (50 words or less for each question), use headers to break up your content, add a how-to or Q&A section to your site, add high-quality videos and images whenever possible, and compose voice transcripts for your videos.
If you are still confused on what you need to do to rank for featured snippets or would simply like to hand over the reins to a professional, contact our team at WebDetail.