Gone are the days when one had to hit the library and open dusty encyclopedias in order to find some answers. The internet revolutionized our lives and changed the face of humanity, as information became accessible like never before. We are witnessing the era of hyper information and search engines are getting better every day, with an honest effort to make the web surfing experience as pleasant as possible for us. A person can simply type a few words into the search box and voilà! Within just a fragment of a second – the whole world of free knowledge unpacks right there, on the screen.
In 2014, Google released Featured Snippets for better user experience. Prior to that, it developed the Answer Box and the Knowledge Graph. However, with these two – results came from Google’s own database while Featured Snippets rely on third-party sources. And that changed the whole SEO game.
What is a Featured Snippet anyway? It is a concise summary of an answer that appears above the rest of the organic results (and just bellow the paid listing on SERP) and it is specifically designed to instantly satisfy user’s intent. It is literally a block of text extracted from a certain web page that the algorithm found most relevant and it also contains a link to that page, its title and URL.
There are three types of snippets: paragraphs, lists, and tables. Naturally, each form can provide answers of value and they are suitable for different types of questions. For instance, paragraphs make the best form for definitions (i.e. they most frequently answer the “what“ questions), lists are great for manuals (e.g. cooking recipes or other how to’s), while tables can display answers regarding costs or college requirements. So, different inquiries demand different visual structure of the text.
Why You Need a Featured Snippet
This is all neat but you’re probably wondering what’s in it for you? If you deal with SEO on your own, you should seriously consider acing your game in order to reach the #0 ranking (i.e. the Featured Snippet spot) for at least four reasons:
- It strengthens your authority: When you have a featured snippet, you gain more visibility and users see you as someone who has credibility and is more relevant among other results.
- It attracts traffic: Despite the fact most people presumed having a featured snippet might negatively affect one’s traffic (as users get necessary information just by looking at the answer box on the SERP), it’s far from the truth. A case study by Search Engine Land showed a Featured Snippet can lead up to 516% (!) increase in sessions. The trick is in providing the users with a precise answer of value but don’t reveal everything so they are intrigued and click on the link to find out more.
- It helps you save money on PPC: You can expect increased click-through-rates; HubSpot reported over 114% increase since the moment they’ve managed to rank #0.
- Snippets are prevalent: In the past year, snippets have more than doubled in prevalence.
Determine the Questions: Get Into the Users’ Mind
The first step towards getting a featured snippet spot is writing your content so that it is answer-oriented. You need to think about the probable questions most Google users will type into the search engine box. Here are a few ways to identify these questions:
- Focus on questions that require an explanation: questions that can be answered with just a few words won’t do
- Assess your current referrals: in most cases, pages that already have an excellent ranking (1-5 position on SERP) are a step away from featuring in a snippet. You’ll have to do some manual research: log in to your Google Search Console and go to the Search Analytics section. There you can filter “Queries“ by different question words you want to research. It is one of the ways of determining relevant keywords.
- Do a real-life survey: ask your friends and other savvy internet users what is the typical way they formulate the questions during their search
- Check Twitter: take advantage of this public social network and spy on user-generated content as it often reveals the way users think and how they position different questions
- Check out Google, Reddit, Answer the Public, and Quora: Google suggested-search can be extremely useful, along with snooping through the questions on Reddit and Quora. Answer the Public is also an awesome tool: simply type in the keyword and see the most frequent related questions.
What answers are your customers seeking? Show your readers and Google that you’re able to accurately answer their question.Ryan Clutter, Content and SEO Specialist, 1SEO.com
Once you know exactly what type of questions do users ask, you’ll be able to adapt your content to it. This doesn’t mean you should compromise your niche: we’re talking about being smart enough – to formulate the simplest and clearest answer Google will see as relevant enough to award it with a featured snippet within your niche. It doesn’t make much sense to write about the best cookie recipes just because a lot of people seem to search for them if your web page is about business consulting.
Crafting Optimal Answers
You have to understand that, when it comes to featured snippets – Google seeks web pages that act as instant problem-solvers. The best thing you can to is to respond to users’ needs. Sometimes, a spot in the featured snippet can belong to a web page ranked #2 on the SERP but because of the simplicity in the structure and its accuracy it is recognized as more relevant for a snippet.
Once you’ve come up with the good target keyword, you need to organize your content wisely. A Featured Snippet contains around 54-58 words so make sure that the core of your answer stays within this length. In maximum 58 words, you need to provide a well-written, direct answer and then on your landing page – you can offer additional info.
Look at it this way: no long sentences and no confusing expressions. Basically, dumb it down a bit. This doesn’t have anything to do with the level of intelligence of the users but with human’s basic need for clarity when obtaining new knowledge. Your answer has to be easily consumable.
Keep in mind the following:
- Summaries are good: making an introduction that gives an explicit answer makes your content more visible to Google and plus – it is a great way to hook the attention of the user and make him crave for more information (if you manage to appear in the Featured Snippet)
- Different text structures matter: as we mentioned, tables and lists may be more suitable forms for some types of content; according to data provided by Get Stat, when it comes to featured snippets – lists are 41.6% more common than paragraphs, while tables rank a bit lower (21.8%).
- Include costs in your content: more than half of the searches include questions about the pricing of different products and services.
- Consider adding the Q&A section to your landing page: it increases the chances of Google making your content a Featured Snippet.
Don’t forget to ask the exact question you intend to answer within the text. Incorporate it inside your content and use it in at least one header for better SEO.
As the last piece of advice: ‘steal’ from the best. The internet is a competitive place, but it also gives you an opportunity to learn from others and snitch a few tricks from them, too. Do a little bit of research: see how do best-ranking pages organize their content, analyze their strategy and embrace the “trial and error“ philosophy. Spend some time googling on your own to see what makes the content in Featured Snippets better than the rest.
Google will surely continue to improve its results, but Featured Snippets are not going anywhere. Make sure to continuously re-optimize your page and work on providing the best content readers can easily digest.