What is a featured snippet and how can you optimise your content to rank and appear in question searches? We explain all.
Most of us are used to Google displaying answers to certain questions directly in the search results– ‘what is 17*32?’, ‘What is my IP address’, ‘Where is the Shard?’, you get the picture. Google’s focus has always been on giving their users the quickest, most accessible information, and their featured snippets do this in the best possible way.
So, what are featured snippets?
Also referred to as an answer box, a featured snippet is used to give users a simple answer to a query, straight in the search engine results. It will appear at the top of the results page and will include a short excerpt of your answer, along with a site link, URL and often an image.
Answer boxes can contain videos, graphs, maps or images as well as standard text content. When you appear in a snippet, you’ll appear twice in the results – both in the answer and in the organic results, a win-win right?
If you’re looking to rank on Google, but the SEO competition is making your head spin, why not bypass number one and focus your efforts on no number at all – namely position zero? The benefits are obvious – better visibility and more clicks!
While sponsored ads appear above the snippet, Google bases it’s featured snippet choice around the highest-quality content, and so regardless of the size or popularity of your business or site, everyone has the opportunity to show. Here’s how.
Struggling to get your company to show up in search results? SEO Yorkshire can help!
Types of featured snippets
The most popular type of featured snippet, paragraphs are the standard answer format we know and love. Google takes text from your page to answer the search question, and offers it to the searcher in a chunk of text. Paragraph snippets are usually used to answer more complicated questions – who is, how to do, what is etc. To ensure that your blog or website shows up in the snippet, you should ensure that you’re answering the question first, and then including any additional information, which should interest the reader and encourage them to click through to your site, after.
The general rule of thumb with lists is the longer the better. Google will only display a certain number of points in a snippet, and so will be forced to cut off some of your points, leaving a ‘more items’ action. The main thing to remember when creating a list, particularly a lengthy one, is that you need to give potential customers a reason to click through to your site. Make sure your points are unique, engaging and useful – if you pique user interest in the preview, they’re much more likely to click through to the full article.
Table snippets make up around 29% of all featured snippets. We all know how much Google loves structured and organised information, and tables often appear in response to queries for comparisons – such as the pricing of different car models. Google also loves to show off its intelligence and doesn’t simply churn out ready-made tables, but rather pulls in the specific information from the search and creates its own table. When creating a table, present your information in order of importance and always make sure that your table has more than four rows to increase the chance of people clicking through to your site.
While snippets are great for linking to your domain, ensuring that your site is seen, and also increasing traffic to your business, there is the possibility that it may affect your click-through-rate. If users can obtain the information they’re looking for from the snippet alone, they won’t need to click on your site. To counterbalance this, content writers need to make sure that their featured snippets are interesting enough to captivate their readers and leave them wanting more which, ultimately, leads to improved click-through-rates.
How do I get my content to appear in a featured snippet?
While there is no specific answer to this question, and there are no guarantees for appearing in snippets, there are certain measures you can take to increase the likelihood of your post appearing in the zero position. Optimised content is the key to all SEO. We know we keep banging on about this, but for good reason – by optimising your page,
- Do your keyword research:
Much like in standard SEO content writing and website optimisation, using the right keywords can have a huge impact on how highly you rank in SERP’s. Longtail keywords and queries tend to show featured snippets more. Using keyword research tools, such as Google Keyword Planner or Ahref’s can help you to decide which keywords have the highest search volumes and realistic ranking difficulties for your business.
Answer the Public is also a great tool that allows you to find what people want to know and offers you keyword suggestions and predictions in the form of multiple visual maps. If you’re struggling with content ideas or how to word blog titles, you can search for a broad phrase or term, and it will churn out hundreds of ideas.
Similarly, while it may seem obvious, Google’s autocomplete feature is ideal for those looking for highly searched terms and questions. Taken from it’s database of millions of searches, it predicts your search based on popular terms and queries. From these suggestions, it’s easy to work out the most common searches, offering you great blog or content ideas.
- Create your content with snippets in mind:
When creating blogs, website content or social media posts, your keyword research is so important. Try and tweak titles and headers to fit in with popular searches. Skip the unnecessary introduction – by including your keyword as close as possible to the start of your content, you’re telling Google what your content is about, increasing the likelihood of appearing in snippets.
Your content should clearly answer a popular question, here are our best practices:
1. Clearly repeat the question within the content, ideally in the intro and conclusion
2. Answer the question! While posts will obviously elaborate within the article or content itself, so many writers forget to actually answer the title question. Always provide a clear and concise answer – this is what helps the likelihood of your page appearing in the featured snippet.
3. Try structuring your content in the ‘inverted pyramid’ – start with the most important information, then follow with some further details and end with more generalised ideas.
Just remember – even the most amazing article will go unnoticed if no-one is interested or searching for that question!
We can help your business be seen online
Looking for expert SEO services? Perhaps your marketing strategy needs an update? Contact us today! We know digital marketing – our enthusiastic team have a wealth of experience and knowledge and know all the tricks of the trade to help you reach that top position. Want to find out more about what we can do for you? Call us on 01246 720 756 or drop us a line on our interactive chat and one of our team will get back to you!
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