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02 Jun 2017

How to Rank in Google’s Featured Snippets

You may be thinking, what in the world are Google Featured Snippets? How can you get one? How do they improve page views and conversions? And most importantly, is it really worth chasing yet another Google SERP change?

Glenn Gabe of Search Engine Land thinks the effort is certainly worth it . . .

“Analyzing a two-week period after losing the snippet revealed a drop of 39,254 clicks to my client’s site. So yes, featured snippets can drive a lot of traffic, and this was an important snippet for my client.”

Still on the fence about Google Featured Snippets?

To further emphasize their potential, Rob Bucci, CEO of STAT Search Analytics, estimated the total CPC worth of snippets to be more than $3 million in his presentation at SearchLove London 2016.

What is a Google Featured Snippet?

You may have come across one or two Featured Snippets after searching for a specific question. Since Google is eager to answer your question based query, your search may be returned with a highlighted box above all others on page one. That is a Google Featured Snippet in a nutshell.

For example, if you search, “How do I optimize my website?” A snippet will showcase a direct answer to your question. These are often taken from page one search results, but not always. We will get to that later.

Google Featured Snippets are certainly search friendly, and they often give you a direct answer without needing to click any pages.

Generally, you will see a well formatted bulleted or numbered list that guides you to success. However, this may not always be the case. In fact, there are a number of different Featured Snippet formats.

Some may answer search queries in paragraph form . . .

Why is this important? Essentially, getting a snippet gets you to position 0 in the search results page.  You would rank ABOVE the #1 organic listing.  The amount of real estate given to these snippets is incredible, and it essentially dominates the results page.  There is simply nothing better than being at the top of page one search results.

In some cases, a Featured Snippet can move your content from position five or six, to position zero. How is this possible? There are a few tactics you need to consider when crafting your highly authoritative content.

How do you get a Google Featured Snippet?

This question may be keeping SEOs, marketers, content developers, and CEOs up at night. First things first, your content needs to be formatted in a specific way to make Google’s Algorithms snippet happy. This in itself can be challenging, but certainly not impossible.

Formatting for Featured Snippets should include . . .

  • Text
  • Tables
  • Numbered lists
  • Bullet points
  • Steps
  • Charts
  • Images

One of the most appealing aspects of snippets are their simplicity and overall lack of regard for industry powerhouse brands with dominant rankings. In fact, any brand, corporate to boutique, can successfully reach position zero.

And the SEO impact for your business will follow . . .

  • Snippets drive more traffic to your site.
  • Snippets boost brand visibility in Google SERPs.
  • Snippets increase trust and credibility.

It is important, however, to understand that a Google Featured Snippets is like an SEO lochness monster. Sometimes they appear for all to see, and sometimes the content stays hidden beneath the dark and murky SERP fold.

You can search once and see one, but when you perform the exact search just moments later, poof, it simply vanishes back into the depths of Google.

Wait a Minute, Won’t a Google Featured Snippet Hurt CTR?

Why would anyone click through after getting the answer they need? This is certainly something to consider, but not a huge CTR cause for concern. However, the fear of missing something important often facilitates a compulsive click.

On average, most people click through on a Featured Snippet. Especially when your snippet is comprised of a nice long list.

You’ll notice the “More Items“ call to action to click on the Yoast SEO Tips Google Featured Snippet . . .

Google sometimes chooses content in position one to showcase in its Featured Snippet. That may be by default is that content is snippet friendly. Being formatted in a way Google algorithms like.

Snippets Don’t Hinge on Organic Search Ranking Factors

Most people would assume that Google algorithms pull from first page search results when showcasing content in a snippet. However, this is not always the case. SERP rank may have little to do with the decision.

In Rob Bucci’s presentation, mentioned earlier, he found that Google would sometimes retrieve sites listed on page two of search results. Others have found snippet content pulled from as far back as page 80.

Going to page two of search results to get a snipp-able piece of content goes certainly defies traditional ranking factors. This is a shimmer of hope for those on page two, eight, or even sites stuck in Google SERP purgatory. It is simply all about format.

How to Get a Google Featured Snippet?

If you want to start optimizing your content for Featured Snippets, there are a few formatting tactics you need to employ.

  1. Word Count

You want to optimize to the tune of Google’s algorithms, and research has found that word count makes a big difference. “The most common length of content in Featured Snippets is between 40-50 words,” according to an analysis by SEMrush.

Making your steps, numbered and bulleted lists, or paragraphs concise and tight may make it easier for algorithms to determine that your content is fit for the feature . . .

2- FAQ Page

Developing an in-depth FAQ page with cut and dry answers may also place your site in position zero. Craft your Q&A list utilizing a keyword research tool to identify related questions. You can also check keywords at the bottom of any SERP for snippet optimization.

This FAQ page is a great example . . .

3- Table, Paragraph or List?

The type of snippet format you choose for your content may play a role in how Google’s algorithms choose snipp-able content. For instance, 29 percent of all snippets are tables.

A Featured Snippet “Table” would look like . . .

This, however, doesn’t rule out a list or paragraph. In fact, paragraphs and lists seem to be trending as of late for Google Featured Snippets.

Even “Rules” can be applied to snippets . . .

And the standard numbered list . . .

4- Use Paragraph Tags

Another formatting tactic you can use for Featured Snippets is to ensure the content, or answer, is in a paragraph (<p>) tag. The tag also needs to be below the search query header.

5- Headers Play a Role

To optimize your content for a Featured Snippet, your search query should be in an h1, h2, h3 header.

6- Don’t Be Afraid to Add Steps

For question based searches, Google might not pull through an entire paragraph for the snippet. By adding Step 1, Step 2, etc. for each subheading, h2, Google will work them chronologically.

Remember, when it comes to snippets, Google likes content that is logically formatted.

Quick Case Study

The below post on diamond girdles is a good example of a Google Featured Snippet that gets superior ranking with a position zero snippet, position one, and above all on page one . . .

Even though the site ranks #1 organically for this keyword, there was a 16% increase in traffic ever since the featured snippet gained rankings.  By creating content optimized for the Who, What, When, Where, Why questions and using keywords that appear in Search Suggestions, this website has gained dozens of featured snippets that have increased traffic substantially, month over month.

What are you waiting for?

To get off to a powerful start, run an audit of keywords you rank for, and pluck the question based queries. Then, answer those questions using the above tips and tactics. Optimize for position zero and make Google work for you, and your bottom line!

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Search engine marketing expert with 15 years of experience in the industry, working with small mom and pop shops as well as large corporate websites. I have experience with all aspects of inbound marketing, including SEO, Link Building, Social Shares, Usability, Conversions, PPC, Email Marketing, and more.