Google has been known to frequently reinvent its algorithm changing the search dynamics for users, marketers, and SEO experts. The block of answer that appears right on top of the search page has been one such gamechanger. Known as Google’s Featured Snippets, it is the most immediate and crisp result that Google shares, especially to question-based searches.
What are Featured Snippets and why are they important?
The featured snippet is the block of a search result that comes out on top of Google’s search page. Their objective is to share the exact answer to a user’s query. It usually appears below the ads but right above the first organic search result.
Also referred to as ‘position zero’, these are designed to be more informative than standard organic search results. Google simply picks the best answer from a relevant website and features it in a snippet for the user to read at a glance. For example, when a user searches for ‘how to start a business’, this result is featured.
While this has increased the overall search-experience for the user, it has also given a magnanimous exposure to the websites who get featured here. Eric Enge’s report highlights that traffic for ConfluentForms.com increased by 20–30% while they held the featured snippet for the query.
A study done with over 5000 keywords concluded that HubSpot.com ranked on the first page of search results with its content appearing on the Featured Snippet. That alone increased their average click-through rate by over 114%.
While featured snippets are extremely helpful to the user, they also give marketers an upper hand in reaching a more valuable audience. Here are some more benefits of being featured in the snippet:
- It gives your content much better visibility as compared to normal search results.
- It helps in driving relevant traffic to your website. Even if your site is not ranking on the first page, being in the featured snippet can help you get relevant traffic.
- It helps with brand recognition, especially with voice search queries. The virtual assistant often reads the Featured Snippets out loud citing the source of the content by saying ‘according to (the name of the site)‘.
How can you find featured snippet opportunities?
There are several ways to find featured snippet opportunities.
1. Use SEMrush to find trending keywords
Image Source: SEMRush
SEMrush is famously known for its ability to uncover information about site analytics. The tool makes it incredibly easy to find opportunities for featured snippets. Its Position Tracking feature gives you all the necessary data that a keyword tool would give, except it also gives you a featured snippet report that shows you keywords you should pay more attention to for better results.
2. Use Answer The Public to find content ideas
Answer The Public is a great tool to find questions that people are searching for. Put in a keyword and the tool will give you multiple questions around it. Answer The Public gives you a good base to form a structure for your content in such a way that it stands a good chance to show up in the featured snippet.
3. Monitor questions that people ask on Twitter
Since featured snippets respond to queries, user-generated content becomes the first and best sources to find ‘how to’ content. Follow the trends and popular hashtags on Twitter to see what kind of conversations people are having. You can even check the hashtags that are popular or related to your industry and get an idea of the questions that keep coming up.
4. Use Google’s ‘People Also Asked’ feature
It is highly recommended to think from the user’s perspective. Featured snippets mostly answer to query-based searches – how, when, what, where, etc. So, look for questions that the user might have. An easy way is to Google the topic and look for the ‘People also ask’ section. Google specifies what people are interested in when they search for the topic.
What can you do to rank in Google’s featured snippet?
1. Write the headings of your article in a question format
Your users are looking for answers on Google. By writing your headlines in a question format, you’re directly addressing the user’s query. It is also an indication for Google about the relevancy of the content with the search.
So, instead of ‘Learn to cook pasta in 5 easy steps’, you could go with a question-based headline such as ‘How to cook pasta in 10 minutes?’ The results of these queries get featured in the position zero spot faster than non-question headings.
2. Format your content for featured snippets
Google loves quality content, especially the one that has enough and more juice for the reader. While quality is of utmost importance, formatting your content properly can give you a place in the featured snippets.
a. Place your important keywords in the headings
Your target search keyword or seed keyword should be present in one or more headings of your content such as H1, H2, etc.
b. Answer the question below the header
You must answer the question directly beneath the header preferably in bullet points. It’s advisable to keep the length of the answer between 55-60 words.
3. Answer the ‘how-to’ questions in a list format
Often the text displayed in the featured snippet is shown in the form of steps (step 1, step 2, …). Your approach should be to add “Start by…”, or “The first step is…” or “Step 1, Step 2, etc.” at the start of each heading within the content. Google sometimes highlights only the steps in the Featured Snippet, and this happens often for searches that start with ‘how-to’.
4. Review your content for non-question-based searches
For shorter, non-question-oriented searches, Google normally pulls a paragraph of text instead of the step-by-step section. For example, check the results for “Content Strategy”. In such cases, it is best to study the pages that are showing up on featured snippets and adjust the structure of your page accordingly.
There is no exact formula for earning a featured snippet except to produce quality content and format it in a Google-friendly way.
Once you have discovered the opportunities, re-evaluate your existing content, and update it to match the suggestions mentioned above. This should help you see some improvements over the coming few weeks.