In order to provide more precise results and a better user experience, Google search results are continually evolving, and features are still changing. Featured Snippets are one of the most notable improvements to SERPs over the last decade. These can be seen at the top of the key listings, extracting relevant content easily to answer search queries.
A Featured Snippet, therefore, is one of the first items users see when searching for a word or phrase, and often ensures the website shown in the Featured Snippet has the top organic ranking. Capturing the Featured Snippet enables you to quickly gain the top organic rank, and improves overall visibility and brand awareness, making them an integral part of SEO strategy.
Read further to explore the definition and types of Featured Snippets, their importance to SEO and how to optimise for them.
WHAT IS A FEATURED SNIPPET?
Featured Snippets are short text snippets that appear at the top of Google’s search results, providing a brief response to a search query from a consumer. The material that appears in a Featured Snippet is automatically taken from a Google Index web page, usually one of the top-ranking sites, including the title and URL of that page.
The four common types of Featured Snippets are paragraphs, lists, tables and videos. The most common snippet type is the paragraph, which accounts for 50% of all snippet results, closely followed by the list (37%), which can be displayed in numerical format or bullet points.
WHY ARE FEATURED SNIPPETS IMPORTANT FOR SEO?
In 2016, Moz found that 23% of all search result pages include a Featured Snippet, whilst Ahrefs’ data shows 12.29% of search queries contain a Featured Snippet. Regardless of the exact number, since their introduction in 2014, Featured Snippets have become a prominent feature of Google Search results and consequently, play a crucial role in SEO.
So, how do Featured Snippets influence search and SEO?
1 They create a shortcut to the top organic position.
Capturing the snippet provides a shortcut to the top spot if your site ranks on the first SERP for a question the shows a snippet. Gaining a featured snippet is an efficient way to quickly hit the top spot, as featured snippets are taken from pages that already rank in the top 10.
2 They increase organic traffic.
Although there is a dispute as to whether featured snippets result in less clicks, this is not generally the case, as the response is in the SERP. Many snippets include only a simple response, which means that most searchers would like to know more, contributing to an increase in site traffic.
They offer an excellent branding opportunity.
In the Featured Snippet, if Google decides to highlight a website, you should also predict a rise in brand recognition. The first result that users see is Featured Snippets; they are even more popular on mobile devices, where all the given SERP real estate is always occupied. This leads to greater exposure of the brand for related subjects, driving long-term growth and helping to associate one ‘s brand as a market leader.
HOW TO OPTIMISE FOR FEATURED SNIPPETS
Google uses its algorithm to decide the page to view as a featured snippet contains the best response to a user’s search query. In order to earn Featured Snippets, though, it is possible to customise your platform. By following the steps below, you can do this:
1 Do keyword research.
The best way to start is by researching your keywords.
- Utilise tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs and AWR to find relevant keywords and queries that trigger Featured Snippets.
- As well as snippets your site has already captured and those captured by competitors, which can be used as a guide.
- Target question-type search queries that your audience is searching for, as these are easiest to identify.
- Identify queries with informational intent; according to the aforementioned Ahrefs study, most of the keywords that trigger snippets are long-tail queries without questions.
Tip: The “People also ask” section on the SERP can also help identify similar queries that can be answered on a single page, maximising the number of snippets you might capture with a single piece of optimised content.
2 Identify search queries you rank highly for.
As discussed, most Featured Snippets contain content from sites on the first page of SERPs. Therefore, optimising these pages is likely to be the easiest way in which to capture Featured Snippets.
- Use a position tracker to create a list of pages that rank within the top ten for search queries.
- Correlate these with the previously identified queries that have a snippet opportunity, to provide you with a list of existing pages you can optimise for groups of keywords.
3 Leverage existing content
Once you’ve identified and grouped these existing pages, you can begin to optimise them.
- First, explore the current snippet holders for a group of keywords; identifying the type of snippet and the content highlighted will give you the basis for your optimisation.
- Locate where on your high-ranking page these search queries are, or could be, answered to begin optimising these sections.
- Google often selects an answer given in a single paragraph, so the ‘inverted pyramid’ writing method is a great way to structure your content; highlight the question as a subheading and immediately follow with a one paragraph answer.
- The answer can be elaborated on in the rest of the article.
4 Create new content with Featured Snippets in mind
If there are any snippet opportunities that your site does not have any content for, you can create new content with Featured Snippets in mind.
- New content should not be created for the sole purpose of capturing a snippet.
- The content should be relevant to the business and add value, but answering search queries that are in demand from your audience.
Tip: It is important to remember that Ahrefs found that it is often likely to be featured in several similar queries once a page is featured; this means it is good practise to ensure that one article addresses as many similar questions as possible. FAQ parts and blog posts in the Q&A format provide an ideal framework for this.
1 Pay attention to formatting.
Ensure your information is conveyed in Google’s preferred way.
- If the current snippet displays information in a list or a table, it is ideal to format your content in this way.
- Schema mark-up can be used to wrap lists and highlight main points.
- For paragraphs, ensure you have descriptive headers, header tags and short, factual sentences.
- Relevant imagery can also be included alongside content.
2 Follow the optimal word count
Last, but certainly not least, ensure your content is the optimum length. After analysing over 10 million keywords, and 1 million domains, SEMrush found that most featured snippets have an optimal length:
- Paragraph answers (usually 40-60 words)
- Numbered or bulleted lists (up to nine lines)
- Tables (up to nine rows and three columns)
Ensure you’re sticking to this guideline when optimising your content to maximise your ability to earn a Featured Snippet.