If you’ve been searching Google, you’ve probably seen the featured snippet. Search engine optimisation is not just about going to number one anymore – no, no, no! A featured page gives you an unfair advantage as it typically gets the views and clicks even if it’s not the top search in SERPs. First place is not the best anymore, but rather having content relevant enough for you to get featured up top.
The issue now arises: how do you snag that coveted featured slot? It’s the only one out there and it’s the best ticket for you to build up some solid traffic.
What is a Featured Snippet?
A featured snippet is a combination of text or images that go on top of search results that provide a quick and straightforward answer to any query. This is gathered by Google from a webpage that provides highly relevant answers to whatever question is asked.
Before we teach you how to optimise for a featured snippet slot, let’s understand first what it is. Every user may have a question that they need to be answered succinctly, depending on what they need.
What is search engine optimisation? Who discovered Australia? What to do in Brisbane?
Everyone has a question that they are searching for and typically, Google will generate an answer with a block of text, typically phrases or excerpts, that the search engine extracts from a webpage and put on top as the most relevant answer for that question.
The summary is a snippet extracted programmatically from what a visitor sees on your web page. What’s different with a featured snippet is that it is enhanced to draw user attention on the results page. When we recognize that a query asks a question, we programmatically detect pages that answer the user’s question, and display a top result as a featured snippet in the search results.
Defining a Snippet
Snippet types vary depending on what people need. Typically, this boils down to paragraph, list, or table, with additional photo lists right up top. The types are self-explanatory, and according to Getstat’s blog, the paragraph type is the most common amongst all of these, typically with an image that may come from a different webpage altogether.
Since this is a relatively new addition to the SERPs, there’s a lot of confusion comes due to the existence of many quick answer techniques that is provided, from translations, word definitions to even calculators.
Just to make this easier, a featured snippet answer will contact a link that goes back to the webpage where the answer was taken from.
What Does the Data Say About Feature Snippets?
There has been quite a solid amount of research that has been invested to understand this result firsthand. All of it lends to the viability of your page being featured. Here’s some of the data on what you need to be on the featured snippet.
- As per Ahrefs’ data, 99.58% of the contents for the snippets – both for the text and the images, come from the organic top 10. This means that you would still want to be smart with your SEO and rank for at least the first page of your search engine results pages.
- This is where this gets interesting. From the same Getstat research that has been done, a solid 7 out of 10 of the featured snippets don’t come from the top result. We can surmise this comes from the fact that Google does not care for the optimisation.
- What Google takes into account is the succinctness of the answer. If the webpage provides a direct answer to the query with just additional helpful detail, it is more likely to be featured. Search Engine Land provided an awesome SEO case study for this, creating a 40% success rate or 2 out of 5 answers being featured.
There’s some additional factors that lend to being featured. Another Getstat white paper lists the top niche that gets up there. This includes questions on mathematics, DIY queries, healthcare, finances, culinary and how-to’s.
The Value of the Featured Snippet
What’s the value of the featured snippet to your business? Quite a lot, actually. Whilst the Ahrefs study lists that the clicks to searches ratio of featured webpages is far lower than being number one, this still drives valuable content towards your pages. Let me explain.
The idea of the snippet in the first place is to provide a quick, easy answer to the reader. What this means is that if the entire answer is on the snippet itself, they will most likely not click. These customers are not there to buy anyway and they only want quick and easy information.
There is, however, value in working towards getting a feature. Hubspot has performed research that specifically noted that the link’s click-through rate (CTR) improved by up to 2x – a huge improvement for a simple feature.
How to Get Featured on SERPs
So the million dollar question: how do you get featured?
There’s a number of ways that you can try so you can get featured, the simplest of these is to take care of your SEO so you can go up to top 10 for the results pages. Whilst you don’t necessarily have to go for number one, you would want a way to be at least in the first page. Being there allows the ability of being feature. The more specific techniques can include more work, like the ones below.
Answer Direct to the Point
All answers that are on the featured snippet are typically answers that are direct to the point. Make sure to always provide a straightforward, direct to the point answer that answers the query immediately.
You would want to add important details like straight up descriptions and helpful points, but the idea is for you to make sure to provide a succinct answer to a common question. Many of the DIY, health, wellness and financial niches have additional advantages, but the playing field is just great all around.
A direct to the point answer always helps. Semrush specifically notes that featured snippets go between 40 to 50 words on average, meaning you have to section paragraphs properly.
Use the Inverted Pyramid
Now you may ask, “if I give away the answer immediately, how will my visitors convert?”. That’s easy. The answer is go from general to specifics with your content, also known as the inverted pyramid.
Inverted pyramid style is one of the oldest news writing techniques, giving away all the needed important generalities of the story upfront to allow the reader to go for further details as they go on through the news.
Details also make readers stay as informative content is always gold standard for audience retention. Long form content after the straight up answer always keeps people going.
Focus on Researching Your Long-Tail Keywords
Performing much needed keyword research is important, just like any optimisation efforts on the internet. There’s much more keywords that carry the snippet feature in 2016 compared 2014 and it has only grown so much since then.
Multiple authority sites like Moz and Neil Patel specifically note that featured comes from long-tail keywords, most typically the keywords that ask a question, request for how-to’s and other informational details.
If you’re a product type business or an e-commerce, you would want a consummate knowledge base of the specific niche that you have.
This may be impossible for general online sellers, but businesses that focus on a specific product like forklifts, construction and wellness items can get advantageous results from making articles that guide people how-to use their products.
Using Keyword Research Tools To Your Advantage
Utilise your tools. There’s a lot of SEO and SEM tools out there, with many of the sites providing a way to rank for the snippets or get the competitors’ snippet features. For this, we specifically note that SEMrush is of particular value.
SEMrush has something called Featured Snippet in its SERP Features option. This can be navigated by searching for the website and clicking Organic Research on the left tabs. SERP Features show up on the right hand side of the screen.
What this allows you is first hand information on how many keywords your competition is ranking for that has been featured, together with what keywords you are featured and ranking for.
Keep a close eye out on the keywords that you can still potentially rank for your pages as well.
Featured snippets give you the ability to get that number one spot without having to work as hard for it. Find how you can provide quick and easy answers for the burning questions your niche has got, then post them as soon as you can. Convince Google with your SEO that you are the authority and expect your traffic to skyrocket once you get the coveted feature.