The mystery of how to get google’s featured snippet is finally solved.
We will lay it out for you in this article. So buckle up.
But before that, you need to know what’s featured snippet?
Featured snippets occur in a small box below any paid links but above all other links (also known as organic links) related to the search query.
The featured snippet is a compact block of information (text, table or list) accompanied by its related URL, which addresses the search query without requiring the user to click a link to access the information.
A quirk of the featured snippet is that it is essentially a summary of a link already featured lower down on the SERP. Therefore it’s very possible for a website link to occupy the featured snippet position as well as the next organic link; essentially owning the two most prominent non-paid positions on the SERP.
However, ownership of the position ranked immediately following the featured snippet does not guarantee the featured snippet position. It’s still possible for a website link located lower in the Google ranking to also occupy the featured snippet position.
So let’s dig in, here’s what you will learn:
- Gain a Snippet, Gain Valuable Exposure
- Increased Click-Through Rates
- Is There an Opportunity for Your Site?
- How to Get Google’s Featured Snippet
- Reviewing Your Current Content
- Monitoring Featured Snippets
- What Does the Future Hold?
Gain a Snippet, Gain Valuable Exposure
The featured snippet position is highly coveted amongst website owners and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) providers.
Occupying the featured snippet position has been proven to increase the Click Through Rate (CTR) of the website in the featured snippet. Conversely, demotion from the featured snippet position can significantly decrease a site’s CTR.
Because of the high visibility and uniqueness of the featured snippet, many SEO providers have become obsessed with trying to figure out how to capture the position.
Google has never provided strict guidelines detailing how a featured snippet is chosen so hypotheses, tests, and speculation run rampant in the SEO community.
Increased Click-Through Rates
Results from numerous marketing studies have shown that winning the featured snippet box dramatically increases the click-through rate through rate for the results that are ranking within the snippet.
Interestingly, Hubspot.com did a sample of almost 5,000 queries related to their own site for high volume keywords and found that their click-through rate had increased by 114% after having featured snippets displayed and also in cases where their site ranked in the first position below the featured snippet.
Using a simple example to help visualize:
- If your website ranked in the first position below a featured snippet for a high volume Google keyword that gets searched on average 5,000 times per month,
- You could roughly anticipate 850 visits,
- Whereas if you were displayed in the featured snippet box, you may receive approximately 2.17 times the traffic – or 1845 visits.
Is There an Opportunity for Your Site?
Not all markets or industries are created equal when it comes to featured snippets.
For example, a local business would be better off focusing their efforts on positioning their business for Google Map Results. Currently, featured snippets are not shown in SERPs that show the local business pack.
However, if you are within a market where there is a need for clear, researched answers to frequently asked questions that are searched often, featured snippets are a fantastic opportunity.
Stat Search Analytics performed a study that reviewed 92,000 queries searching for featured snippets in the results and found that certain types of search terms resulted in a featured snippet more often.
The top type of search terms was related to:
- DIY Processes
The types of search terms that were the least likely to display a featured snippet were:
- Images and Videos
How to Get Google’s Featured Snippet
Unless Google itself provides parameters and metrics, the exact selection process of the featured snippet algorithm will likely never be known. Although there are no firm guidelines to becoming a featured snippet, over time, a loose consensus of how a featured snippet is chosen has been forming within the SEO community. So, although there are no firm guidelines to becoming a featured snippet there are a handful of techniques that can improve a website’s chances.
1. Find the Best Keywords
Identifying the best opportunities to gain a featured snippet begins with traditional keyword research. As you research, look for words that:
- Are high volume
- Imply questions
- Long-tail keywords that contain six or more words
2. Create Content That Will Answer Search Questions with Detailed, Insightful Responses
Featured snippets are typically a response to a specific question.
When creating content, it pays to keep in mind what type of questions a user would enter in the search box.
Fashioning content to answer specific questions is crucial to attaining featured snippet status. Because featured snippets are succinct in presentation (typically between 40 and 50 words), thorough yet concise answers will be more apt to be picked up as a featured snippet.
It has also been hypothesized that a website’s user engagement metrics play a role in attaining featured snippet status.
Pages with higher CTRs and time on site valuations have been shown to gain the featured snippet position despite not holding the highest organic ranking on the results page. Certainly, the fact that engagement metrics also play a role in traditional SEO, the possibility that they can affect the selection of featured snippets as well can’t be too far off.
3. Find the Top Relevant Questions That Searchers Are Asking
Consequently, answering the right questions will lead to a greater likelihood of a featured snippet.
Keyword ranking analysis, or more specifically, finding the words and phrases most searched by Google users is key to focusing on the most relevant questions. There are many online tools available (including Google Analytics itself) to assist in keyword analysis.
A very helpful tool that can be used to locate a list of common questions that get asked regarding a particular subject is with answerthepublic.com, a data mining tool that uses Google Suggest API to document permutations of a popular question.
Moz Keyword Explorer is another helpful application. Under the Keyword Suggestion tab, select the option to ‘Display Keyword Suggestions That’ and select the ‘Questions’ option under the results filter.
4. Deliver the Best Answer – Content Is Still the King!
Some, but not all, featured snippets contain images, tables, and lists.
Being able to answer a question concisely and authoritatively with a pictogram, ordered list or tabular data can be an effective workaround when mere text is insufficient.
Such additional information increases the readability of site and therefore may work well for a featured snippet.
Most, but not all, featured snippets also rank organically on the first page of Google results. Therefore, already having a highly search engine optimized page will also increase the chances of being a featured snippet. Without ranking on the first page, chances of a featured snippet position fall dramatically.
Like all SERP rankings, featured snippets are fluid and will change with time, access to newer or more relevant information or when better answers to queries are proposed. It has been shown that featured snippets can be attained, lost and regained (also known as churn) depending on the relevance of the information presented by different websites.
Reviewing Your Current Content
It can be a good idea to do a thorough review of your existing website’s content to uncover any opportunities to correct or optimize in order to increase your chances of securing a featured snippet position:
- Review bounce rate,
- The number of pages visited,
- And the average session duration using Google Analytics.
If a certain page is performing poorly compared to the rest of your pages, it is an indication that the on-page content is not relevant or satisfying the needs of searchers.
Edit or even completely re-write new content for these pages and when doing so, use the tips mentioned above to optimize it for featured snippet placement.
Monitoring Featured Snippets
Maintaining a featured snippet means actively monitoring competitor content as well as your own website metrics.
Getting to position zero and optimizing for featured snippet rankings should be included in your on-going tracking tasks:
- A good place to start is by matching up the keywords where you have gained the featured snippet position with your Google Search Console CTR data.
This will help you identify the overall opportunity, especially if you compare a keyword from a time frame before it was included in a featured snippet to an equal length of time where it was.
Although a fairly new tool in many SEO monitoring applications, some have the ability to let you locate your featured snippets and search to see if your competitors are ranking for any keywords in ‘position 0.’
SEMRush is one of the platforms that provides this data and it can be found by going to the ‘Positions’ option under the ‘Organic Research’ category. Here, there is an advanced feature option to include featured snippets within your results.
Stat Search Analytics is another application that can be used and works by uploading a list of your targeted keywords. Stat Search will obtain ranking data for the keywords provided and begin tracking which ones are getting displayed in featured snippet results.
What Does the Future Hold?
Since the introduction of featured snippets, their prevalence has only increased.
Google has continually worked on providing a user-friendly experience and it appears this new component is just another step in that direction.
Whether Google’s promotion of featured snippets continues to grow or ends soon is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, it appears that featured snippets are something that end users and SEO marketers will continue to see more of.
Some say featured snippets are worse than fake news, some love ’em, which one are you?
Hamish FitzHenry is the Head of Search at Grizzly, a Bristol Digital Agency.