If you’ve ever Googled anything in your entire life, odds are you’ve seen a featured snippet. You know what we’re talking about, right? Those little boxes of info that appear at the top of a search page usually include some of the information you’re looking for.
Featured snippets are a small but major brick that helps support the numerous building blocks that go into making the digital and organic marketing world function, which makes it very important to learn their benefits so you can start making use of them as well.
However, while featured snippets might seem like a simple concept to grasp, as you’ll soon see, there’s far more that goes into learning how to optimise for featured snippets than just cobbling together a bunch of bullet points and slapping them in a list.
That’s why we’ve created this little guide, so you can learn what a snippet is, what kind of role they play in search engine rankings, and how best to optimise your content so you can grab yourself a few in the future.
Points we’ll touch on:
- What is a featured snippet?
- What are the different types of featured snippets?
- Why should you target featured snippets?
- How to optimise for featured snippets
With introductions out of the way, let’s get straight down to business and go through everything that goes into making featured snippets work, starting with the obvious question, what is a featured snippet?
What is a featured snippet
The eagle-eyed readers amongst you might already want to point out that we’ve already given a vague explanation for what a featured snippet is, but let’s touch on it in slightly more detail.
So, what is a snippet? Well, they’re typically excerpts of text pulled from a particular article or page that contains content that Google thinks answers a user’s question. They’re then displayed prominently at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) in order to provide the user with a quick answer to their query.
You can easily tell if you’re looking at a featured snippet thanks to their prominent page positioning and the fact that their layout is reversed compared to other search results, having the content displayed above the site link instead of the other way around.
Featured snippets will also display the title and URL of the website providing the information, giving you a clear indication of where the information came from and how reputable the source might be. And if you’re lucky, they might even include an ‘also covered on this page’ section with links to other related headings within the content.
Regardless of their size and content, featured snippets are always displayed above other organic search results, often mixed in amongst the various paid ads Google points your way, and they’re more likely to appear when specific informational search queries are used as search terms.
What are the different types of featured snippets
Now that we’ve looked at the question “what is a snippet”, let’s touch on the different types of featured snippets you might come across. There are four distinct types of snippets:
- Paragraph or text snippets
- List snippets
- Table snippets
- Video snippets
The type of content that goes into forming a featured snippet will depend on the content present on the page. Text-based snippets tend to be picked first, followed by lists, tables, and then video snippets.
But it’s not just the type of snippet that can change, but its style of content as well. A text-based featured snippet might provide a very specific and concise answer in relation to a query or a briefer answer that is explained in full when you click on the snippet’s link.
A list snippet, on the other hand, could display an ordered or unordered list, depending on the list type, even hiding the top results of a list to get readers curious about what the top ranking results of a list are.
You’ll also usually get an image with your snippet, even if there’s no image on the site that accompanies it. Many snippets often contain a selection of collapsible arrow boxes containing further questions and snippets related to your query.
What is not a featured snippet
While it should be pretty clear now what a featured snippet is, it’s worth pointing out what things aren’t featured snippets, just so you don’t get confused when looking at the search results.
First, you shouldn’t confuse a featured snippet with a rich snippet. Rich snippets are designed to enhance organic search results and are results with different reviews attached to them in relation to the products and services that a site supplies.
Featured snippets should also not be confused with the knowledge panel that might be displayed on the right-hand side of a search results page or a knowledge card that can appear at the top of a page with basic information about a company or person.
Why should you target featured snippets
If it’s not obvious already, many good things can come from snapping up the featured snippet space at the top of a results page. After all, this top spot is sometimes called position zero and is exactly where you want to be when trying to rank your content on Google.
Right off the bat, you can expect to get a much better click-through rate (CTR) for any site that holds a featured snippet. Its prominent placement means users don’t need to scroll to find the info they want, making their life easier.
Stats also show that snippets get roughly 2x the CTR compared to non-snippeted content, making up 8% of all clicks online, showing them to be even better for a website than getting the number one position on a SERP.
And on top of all this, you get tons of exposure thanks to the amount of space it takes up above the page fold, boosting your overall credibility, visibility, and authority without needing to pay for a boost to be number one.
Now, while there is an argument to be made that CTR could drop with featured snippets because the snippet answers a user’s question, if a snippet is just a piece of the necessary information, users a far more likely to click on it. Basically, you can’t ignore featured snippets if you want to make the most of SEO ranking opportunities.
How to optimise for featured snippets
So, now that we know what snippets are, and why you need to make use of them, we need to talk about how to optimise for featured snippets. Optimising the content you want to be a featured snippet is a must, otherwise, Google will have no idea if you want the content to be a snippet at all.
Naturally, some content is more suited for snips than others, especially:
- Recipe content
- Best X content
- Vs content
- Make X content
- Definition content
But that’s not to say you can’t get a snippet if your content doesn’t fit into these categories. So long as the content in question is of good quality and correctly optimised, your odds of winning a featured snippet are high. Of course, there is no formula guaranteed to get you a featured snippet, but there are a few things you can do.
How to target featured snippets
One thing to bear in mind before you actually begin to optimise your own content to become snippets is whether or not you’ll be competing for the spot with your competitors.
This is easily done using analytical tools, like SEMrush and Ahrefs, which show what keywords have snippets and any gaps in the market that you can exploit. You can also do the same thing by Googling around your content and seeing what snippets come up.
Odds are you’re going to find some space in which you can target an available snippet. Even if it’s not your main point of content, just garnering a snippet will help all aspects of your site. If you spot some low-hanging fruit, you should absolutely go for it.
Now, it is also possible to target the featured snippets of competitors, especially if you think you can make better content than them. However, this is not an advisable strategy in the long run. Once someone has a snippet, it can be hard to unseat them from that spot, so it’s generally much easier to go for unclaimed snippets instead.
Featured snippet keywords
Right, first things first, when it comes to featured snippet optimisation, you must target the relevant feature snippet keywords or phrases associated with the content you want to form the snippet so that Google picks it up.
Get yourself some keyword tools and start researching, looking specifically for longtail, question-based keywords that users are likely to use when searching. Make sure you pick something with low keyword difficulty, and if you can, throw in a few trigger words; the words often used in queries like how to, which is, etc…
You also want to think about optimising the entire page content for keywords. Again, this indicates to Google that the page has good information related to a user’s query, encouraging it to rank the page higher. Either way, work your main keyword phrase into the snippet title and text, so Google picks up on it.
While not as important as they used to be, Google still uses keywords to help in its ranking calculations. To learn more about keywords be sure to read our blog on the best software to conduct keyword research.
Produce quality content
This is by far the biggest thing to bear in mind when it comes to optimising for featured snippets. You won’t get a snippet if the content you produce is of poor quality that doesn’t answer a user’s search query.
The content you make needs to be better than your competitor’s. That means good keyword density, solid internal and external linking structure, informative and well-researched information that meets the user’s needs, bulleted lists, and much more.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to include your keywords in the page title tag and any relevant headings, making sure to use headings in chronological size order for Google’s benefit and user readability.
With list snippets in particular, you want the keyword included in the list’s header, if possible, and followed by a succinct, bulleted list that gets the content across in a clear and concise manner.
You also want to stick to the recommended word count. Snippets tend not to be more than 40-250 characters or 40-50 words, depending on the featured snippet type. If you can, try to answer multiple related questions in one snippet, and should you have time, create a high-quality image to go with it.
Optimising content for SEO purposes is so important for any digital marketing strategy, so we highly recommend reading our beginner’s guide to writing SEO copy if you want to learn more about this topic.
Optimising your pages
Lastly, the other best practice you can follow to boost your odds of getting a featured snippet are the associated SEO qualities of the page. By boosting the ranking potential of your page, you automatically increase the odds of its content being picked for placement as a featured snippet.
Update your URL, get that metadata nice and tight, and make the page load times as short as possible. There’s a lot you can do to optimise a page. We suggest checking out our beginner’s guide on how to build backlinks for SEO, and our beginner’s guide on mobile-friendly SEO.
And that’s it! There’s not a whole lot more to say about featured snippets, but you should now have an understanding of their importance and how to start prepping your content to fit the featured snippet box. Remember, there’s no guarantee you’ll ever get a featured snippet, but if you do, it can be a game-changer.
As we’ve pointed out, featured snippets make up only a small part of the digital and organic marketing world. There are plenty of guides out there you can read to enhance your skills, including more like this one over on the c3 blog.
To find out more about us here at connective3, pop over to our website, where you can see examples of our work, the services we offer, and any available roles we have. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you take the next step in your digital journey.