What is a featured snippet? This article will tell you everything you need to know about featured snippets, and how your business can utilize them for increased brand awareness.
What is a Featured Snippet?
A featured snippet is a small piece of third-party text that appears at the top of Google’s results list in response to a user’s question, otherwise known as a query. It is automatically taken from a web page and include the web page title and URL. This appears at the top of the search, before the other organic or sponsored results. When a user clicks a featured snippet, they are automatically directed to the source web page. When searching with a Google Assistant tool, featured snippets can be read aloud to answer a query.
Why are Featured Snippets Important?
Featured snippets are valuable to understand in the world of digital marketing. Most noticeably, featured snippets take up search engine result page (SERP) space, meaning they are the first thing that a user sees in their search results oftentimes referred to as “position zero.” This gives an opportunity to increase web page visibility and click-rates without higher Google search rankings. In fact, only about 30% of featured snippets come from the very top of organic search results. This means that with a featured snippet, your click-through-rate will receive a big boost without being the top search result.
Additionally, they can help your domain gain credibility. Obtaining a featured snippet position shows your page is relevant and trustworthy, especially in the eyes of Google. Similarly, these snippets quickly answer questions with a web page title, meaning increased brand recognition.
Types of Featured Snippets
There are five main types of featured snippets, which all meet different user query needs efficiently.
Paragraphs of text are oftentimes used to in response to queries. In fact, they are the most popular form of featured snippets. Sentences, often accompanied by an image, provide information for each query. Many times Google will bold the keywords that best answer the query throughout the paragraph. These can be displayed in Google search results for queries like, “Where are the US Virgin Islands?” or “Who is Harry Potter?”
These types of snippets often appear to describe things in steps, such as recipes or in directions. Ordered lists also often result from ranking queries. These specific ordered lists easily and directly answer questions such as, “who are the top 5 NBA players” or “how to screenshot on iPhone.”
Google uses tables to answer questions by pulling data from a page and can recreate or reconstruct its own table to better provide information for the user. These tables can be used in comparison charts or can structure information based on different variables. These appear well-organized and easily comparable to the viewer. If you’d like to see examples of queries that result in tables, search “largest cities by area” or “Peet’s Coffee prices.”
Bulleted list snippet tables are a way Google to present answers without particular order. These can come from queries such as “Panera Bread menu” or “best jobs.”
These featured snippets answer queries with direct links to YouTube videos and can even appear with a “suggested clip” or section of a video that answers a user’s query most accurately. Video answers are usually found in searches like “how to tie shoes” or “top songs of 2020.”
How to Optimize for Featured Snippets
Integrating your website to a featured snippet is not something you can do alone. Google selects its featured snippets itself. There is only a choice to opt-out of featured snippets through Google. That being said, there are numerous ways to optimize your website to increase the likelihood of Google choosing to use your content for a snippet.
In order for Google to use your content as a featured snippet, it must be correctly formatted. This means making sure definitions, lists, and questions/answers are already in proper layout. More specifically, you can improve this by making sure ordered lists are clearly numbered, definitions stay around 50 words and tables are comprehensible.
Comparison tables are particularly a great way to organize data and often get picked up as featured snippets. Keep consistency throughout your lists and tables in order for your content to be most easily understood. This makes it easier for Google and your audience to read your content and digest information.
Try including headings tags (H2, H3) to make your content as digestible as possible. Similarly, it is important that your tone throughout your content stay objective and unbiased for it to be chosen by Google. Keeping a professional and informational tone will make your information appear more trustworthy and credible.
Adding a question and answer or FAQ section based around keywords is an easy and clear way to meets the needs of the audience. Similarly, making sure each paragraph is properly labeled lets both Google and readers understand exactly what type of information your content holds. More specifically, another way to make it easy for Google to use your content for Featured Snippets is by wording your paragraphs in questions. This way, it is clear exactly what is being answered and easy for the search engine to match this answer with language common in a query. Although you can design the content thoroughly, make sure that each question has a concise and straightforward answer.
When focusing on a featured snippet, try as much to target as possible. Understand how to best answer for a query or search similar and direct your content to match. Try to explore Google searches to get a better sense of what queries elicit featured snippets. This way, it will be easier for you to structure your own content strategy. It is possible to further narrow your search terms by deciding what relevant terms have weak featured snippets and creating stronger information to match the query. Mimic the snippet you are trying to beat by formatting it similarly but creating a richer answer.
Throughout your content, refer back to your title as your guiding question. Although your short answer should be condensed, design your entire content piece to be an in-depth exploration of the topic. Writing with users’ queries in mind will allow your piece to reflect exactly what potential viewers are curious about.
Similarly, it is vital to improving featured snippet optimization by targeting specific keywords. Note which keywords are used by your audience, especially long tail keywords. Long-tail keywords refer to more lengthy and specific searches that give you a better chance of accurately meeting query needs.
Utilizing the “people also ask” or “similar questions” feature is a great way to better understand which long tail keywords are applicable. This is because Google considers them relevant. By using keywords to your advantage, your content is better able to match with pertinent queries. Answering several related questions in one piece of content will allow the creation of valuable content for viewers. It will also allow for one piece of content to a potential match with multiple queries.
The easiest way to increase your chances of being chosen for a featured snippet is by achieving a high search engine ranking. According to an Ahrefs study of two million featured snippets, over 99% of featured snippets come from pages already ranking on the top ten Google results.
This means that having strong Google search rankings and SEO strategy will highly boost your featured snippet chances.
Challenges of Featured Snippets
While featured snippets can be extremely helpful for increasing brand awareness and credibility, they also come with their own set of challenges. After a January 2020 update, Google announced that they will no longer allow the web page in featured snippets to be duplicated. This means they will not appear on the first page of organic search results. Websites who gain the featured snippet spots lose their SERP positioning. A study by SEO Clarity revealed that 95% of web pages shown in featured snippets came from the top three search results. After this Google announcement, these websites no longer appear in the first-page search results at all.
In the same Ahrefs study mentioned earlier, it was proven that featured snippets get around 8.6% of clicks while the top organic result page gets around 20%. While featured snippets steal some clicks from the top search result, they also lower the number of clicks in general. These often serve as answers meaning users do not have a need to click on any web page after searching.
While many web pages have decided to opt out of featured snippets in order to protect their click rates, there are still many advantages for using snippets to reach wide audiences. The same SEO Clarity study shows that 90% of Google assistant answers come from Featured Snippets and smart home devices are rising in popularity.
When choosing a search engine optimization strategy, it is crucial to understand your target audience. With the proper strategy, research, and execution, optimizing can help your business stand out and succeed. For help using these for your business, contact SEO Design Chicago today!