Featured Snippets are short snippets of text that appear at the top of Google’s search results to quickly answer a searcher’s query. Explore how to optimize content for featured snippets
Appearing in Google’s featured snippet section could be comparable to winning a gold medal. Although a lot less blood, sweat and tears are required (depending on who you ask), standing at the top of the Google podium is a highly sought-after prize since it greatly helps increase organic traffic to your site.
Officially introduced in 2016, snippets are condensed displays of information that are sourced from Google’s top 10 listings. A featured snippet can lead to more clicks, exposure, credibility, and are thought to be even more effective than ranking #1 in search results. But it is not an easy prize to earn.
Consider following a few simple steps and adjusting your SEO strategy to improve the likelihood of appearing in a snippet. Learn how to optimize for Google’s featured snippets with snippet-friendly content!
What Are Featured Snippets?
Snippets are ‘position zero’ (at the very top!) results that answer searcher’s question queries. There are many formats in which the answers may appear to a searcher, such as paragraph, list, table, video, accordion (many clickable options), rich answer, or calculator tool. These are catered to best match the type of content – for example a recipe would likely appear in a list snippet, whereas a question about conversion rates would appear in a calculator snippet.
Google positions snippets below ads and above regular search engine results page results. There’s no question about it – it’s the best place to be! When generating an answer, Google will typically search from content that is ranking in the top 10, but even lower-ranking SERPs can be pulled if their content is engineered in the right way. Certain industries, such as DIY, health (including food) and finance have higher chances of appearing in a snippet. This does not mean that lower-ranking sites or industries other than those mentioned above cannot rank for featured snippets. There is no set formula, and your spot at position zero is not guaranteed for any set amount of time. If you get there, great – but remember, you must continually work to keep your spot at the top of the podium.
How to Appear in Snippets
There are steps you can take to increase your likelihood of appearing in a snippet. Remember that Google will pull snippet information from top ranking sites for search queries. Sites that are not on page 1 will likely not appear in snippets. Lesser-known websites can rank in snippets if they pay attention to aspects such as page structure and keep on top of SEO and keyword optimization.
Target Keywords and Queries that are Questions
Focus on answering questions! Some examples include: ‘what is’, ‘how to’ or ‘why is’. Don’t answer just one question though, keep making your content snippet-friendly by answering a variety of questions that may appear for one topic. The sooner you answer the question in the post, the better. For keywords that are less question-oriented (think of someone just searching one term, such as “personal finance” instead of a full question like “how can I manage my personal finance?”), use a definition style approach. Google may pull several sentences and create a paragraph snippet if it reads as an answer would.
Think about what form of snippet your information will ‘best’ present itself in. As mentioned earlier, there are various snippet formats. If you want to show up as a list snippet, create your content in a list. If a table is more desirable, create your content in a table and use table tags so that a search engine is more likely to pick it out. For paragraph snippets, the best performing content is between 54 – 58 words total. This will vary between formats but remember to keep it clear and simple regardless.
Use Heading and Paragraph Tags
Create an easy-to-follow page structure with heading and paragraph tags. For a paragraph, have the search query appear in an H2 subheading. In the paragraph tag, include what you want to show in the snippet (the information people are searching for) directly below the header. This circles back to the need to put such content early in the post. For lists that show in-depth steps (think of a recipe or how to adjust a setting on your computer), have each step represented as an H3 sub-heading.
Filter out the most popular questions that are asked about your business or product and focus there. A great starting point is to monitor which search queries (and related keywords or phrases) you are ranking highly in. By using these, you’ll have the best chance of earning a snippet. For example, if you want to show up in a snippet for the phrase “purchase pink flamingos,” check if you rank for similar queries such as “best pink flamingos” or “where to buy pink flamingos.” Checking related keywords will help with adjusting existing or creating new content.
If you rank highly for a keyword, see if Google already has snippets for them. If the answer is yes, then make sure your content answers questions specifically related to your content. You can then follow the above tips in formatting content, images and tags relating to those questions. Even when you’ve answered questions clearly in your content, keep finding related keywords and insert them into your content.
If your content appears in a snippet, this does not mean you should start slacking on SEO and keyword optimization.
No Need to Focus on Schema Markups
The two are not impacted by one-another. A schema strategy will not help increase your chances of showing up in a snippet.
Google is more likely to feature you if you take time to clearly format your content to answer questions. There is still no guarantee you will appear in a snippet nor for how long. On the bright side, these steps will help optimize your content for search engine rankings and improve overall performance and traffic.
Being concise makes your page more crawlable, shareable and provides long-term SEO benefits. Staying on top of SEO and keyword best practices is not a bad thing either. Trying to be featured in a snippet is a worthwhile endeavor since it can greatly increase traffic. But remember, taking the steps to be featured in a snippet can also provide great benefits for your company.