How to Optimize Featured Snippets Google to Increase Traffic
The main competition in Google is to get to the first place in the search results. With the appearance of featured snippets, it was possible to really surpass the number one position even if you weren’t able to reach it ever before. It sounds impossible, but featured snippets are the perfect way to get from fifth place to first in a short amount of time.
Let’s see how it works.
What Is a Featured Snippet
Google strives to provide information to users immediately on the search page. There are two kinds of quick answers: direct answers and featured snippets.
Visually, they do not differ from each other and are displayed at the beginning of the SERP. Read more on the topic in the article – What is the SERP in 2020?
Featured Snippet VS Answer Box. What’s the difference?
Direct answers or answer boxes are simple facts, excerpts from dictionaries, or calculations. Google takes information for direct answers from its own database or from reliable sources.
Featured snippets are quick answers that Google has developed for the convenience of users in facilitating their search. In this way, the search engine eliminates the need to go to the site. Unlike direct answers, google snippets reveal complex questions and contain a link to the source from which the information was taken.
Types of featured snippets
There are four types of fragments that Google ranks at position zero. Here are some Google snippet examples for each of them.
The most common type of snippets box is a passage from a paragraph. Google selects the preferred fragment as the answer to the question and displays it at the zero position of SERP. Sometimes an excerpt contains a picture.
The laconic answer creates interest for readers to your site. Snippets train the skill to intrigue with one paragraph and raise the CTR of the page. You can find more information on the topic in the article – What Is a CTR.
Lists are often step-by-step guides to solve problems that interest users. In the form of a list google snippets get recipes or guides on how to assemble something yourself. Long lists are not displayed completely in the recommended window, which forces users to go to the page itself.
There are numbered and bulleted lists as well.
In a numbered list, the text is displayed in a clear order. Such content often serves as a guide to specific actions.
In a bulleted list, order is not important. Information from bulleted lists is simply a list of facts. Sometimes Google will format the content from the page itself, turning it into a bulleted list.
The best option for presenting information related to prices, dates, and other numbers is a table.
Compared to plain text, this type of formatting makes content easier to read. The use of keywords and the table format itself increases the chances of getting to position zero on Google.
Google can highlight a piece of video that exactly matches the user’s request, and they can provide it as a featured snippet for the search.
Why Are Featured Snippets Important for Ranking?
Experts have quite varying opinions on the snippets box. Some people think that the answers Google displays on the search results page will decrease traffic. It makes no sense to go to the page itself when you get the answer back in SERP.
However, according to the research of seo-expert Ben Goodsell, the CTR percentage increased from 2% to 8%.
When drawing conclusions about the effectiveness of snippets, it is worth considering various factors: brand awareness, whether the answer is shown in full, whether the answer attracts you to read further, whether images are used, etc. The best way to understand if snippets are good for your site is to analyze the clickthrough rates, impressions, and conversions.
Despite the ambiguity, featured snippets have four main advantages:
- Steals clicks from the first position.
According to Ahrefs research, when there are no snippets on the page, the first site on the page receives 26% of clicks. A fragment on zero SERP takes 8.6% of the clicks.
- It increases the website’s trustworthiness
There’s no way you would not trust the site that Google highlighted in the featured snippet window. The fact that the page is in the google snippet indicates the quality of your content. For users who have not encountered SEO-algorithms, the site in the recommended window looks more authoritative than the others.
- It makes your website competitive.
A small site from the bottom of the first page is quite capable of overtaking the giants from the top of SERP and appear in the recommended window.
- Voice assistants take information from the zero position.
In 2020, half of searches are conducted using the voice assistant. To get the answers, Google takes information from the recommended windows. This means that if your pages do not take a zero position, you lose half of the potential audience. The first line of SERP and snippet are the main goals that will help to win the race for conversion.
If you want your site to be ranked in voice search, focus on optimizing the content so that the search engine adds it to the snippet box.
Develop the mobile version of your site. Most voice searches come from smartphones. If the user wants to understand the issue in more detail, they will go to your site. This is why it needs to be optimized for mobile phones. Otherwise, you will not stay long on top of SERP. To learn more about how to do this, read the article Mobile Search.
How High Are the Chances to Get into Featured Snippet?
If your site has higher positions in SERP, you have an advantage in the struggle for the most attractive place in Google search. The snippet box from the top ten of SERP appears in the organic search results in 30% of cases for 1.4 million requests. You do not need to have the first position to be in a google snippet, but make sure that it is dedicated to a specific topic. Content will not be in the TOP of an organic search if it does not answer questions.
Google snippet is not something you get forever. Even if you are lucky to get to the top of the search, Google may suddenly replace you with another site if it considers that your content no longer satisfies user requests. It is important to avoid this. There is no exact formula for how to get featured snippet, but you can try your best to steal a zero position from competitors with the following advice.
- Analyze what competitor content is being ranked.
- Check if your content fits the snippet box format.
- Correct any possible inconsistencies with the format.
- Use the search console to have Google scan your page.
- Wait 30 minutes, and voila, your content is on top of SERP. Featured snippet updates don’t always happen so fast. It may take up to several days.
- If more than a week has passed and your page still has not taken a zero position, repeat the algorithm again.
Read more about how to conduct a content audit in our article Website Content Audit.
How to Optimize Your Content for Google Featured Snippet Box?
Response blocks are useful not only for users. Using snippets box to increase website traffic is becoming more popular. Using this Google feature, companies outperform competitors in SERP and increase conversion. With featured snippets, you don’t need to be a leader in your industry or pay for ads to go up in Google search. Any company with any website can rise to the top of SERP. The main factor is content. The right approach to creating and formatting content for Google standards will take you to the desired TOPs.
- Exploring the keywords.
The first step in the fight for google featured snippets is to evaluate your competitors. To do this you can use a special snippet tool called Semrush. An analytical resource will help you find out which competitors fall into recommended fragments and which snippets your site falls into. To do this, enter the URL of the site that interests you, click “Analysis of search results,” and go to “Block with answers.” Learn more about how to analyze competitors in an article SEO Competitive Analysis.
After analyzing the Semrush featured snippets, you will know by what requests competitors go to the TOP of Google and will be able to format your texts.
Start improving your content performance for google featured snippets box with long-tail keywords. Using search phrases longer than three words will narrow your SERP focus.
To find the right long-tail keys, do keyword research. Google created snippets to give answers. Focus on finding keywords that contain “how,” “what,” “why,” and others. This will help determine which specific topics you can answer.
- Use questions in the headlines.
Google provides answers to user requests immediately in SERP. One effective method of getting into google snippets is to optimize articles with keys that are formed on the basis of questions.
If a page falls into a snippet on one request, then Google searches for answers to other questions that are united by a common theme on this page as well. Therefore, you need to create articles that immediately cover a number of issues. This way the content will be ranked for snippets in all related requests.
Instead of writing separate texts for each related question on a topic, write one large text with answers to a series of similar questions.
To find relevant questions and find ideas for texts, use Answer The Public. By asking a question on a topic that interests you, the service will provide a huge pool of answers that you can work with.
Choose which topic branch to focus on and write Google snippets appropriate content.
The service perfectly visualizes information that can be downloaded in CSV format.
- Pay attention to the block «people also ask».
The easiest way to pick up the keys is to analyze the block “People also ask”. This is another feature that Google launched in 2015. The function helps to collect more information on topics related to the search query. Often this block is located directly under the google snippet and gives access to dozens of questions. Read more about this feature in the article Google’s ‘People Also Ask’ Boxes.
- Use an inverted pyramid format for your content.
Attracting audience interest is easier if you use the inverted pyramid format. Arrange the information in the article in descending order of importance. This helps to quickly learn the main thoughts and decide whether to continue reading further. Typically, the structure of content that is formatted in the style of an inverted pyramid is as follows:
- The main idea and the primary information that interests readers.
- Additional, less important, but valuable information.
- Conclusions and other information that has not yet been said in the previous blocks of text.
The inverted pyramid style solves three essential tasks:
- It attracts attention to the article.
- It delivers the main point immediately.
- It is interesting to read to the end.
Even if the text is not read to the very end, the user will still leave with an understanding of the main ideas of the article due to the format of the inverted pyramid.
- Use images and videos.
Google likes pictures. Featured snippets with beautiful images are favorable not only to Google, but also to users. If the text in snippets is not accompanied by a picture, Google takes it from another source if they consider it to be the most relevant. Therefore, you need to take care of filling the content with images yourself. To increase brand awareness, you can add your logo or create a corporate image that will only be associated with your site.
By 2021, video will occupy 80% of the content. 65% of users watch more than half of the video. Between text and video, users more often choose a video. To take the zero position, pay attention to the quality of the video. It is important to create not only high-quality videos but also to optimize them. Add transcription to your video so that Google tools can read it. The search engine should recognize the text and be able to use it for a featured snippet. Add subtitles to the video. Users often watch videos without sound.
- Use magic words.
Ahrefs analyzed 2 million fragments from zero position and highlighted the Top 30 topics that are more common in google featured snippets. Try experimenting with these words if your content is flexible.
Getstat conducted a study and identified a number of topics that do not help to rank in Google snippets.
- Control the number of words.
The analysis conducted by Semrush showed that the optimal content length in snippets is from 40 to 50 words. Stick to this number so that Google can quickly recognize and use the text. Create a clear structure for your articles. Select paragraphs in the text and add lists. Use the subtitles H2 – H3. Each subheading should answer one question.
Take Wikipedia as an example. Each article begins with a brief response to a reader’s request. Therefore, the site takes the lead in the number of hits on the zero position.
Strive for conciseness. This is not a call to write a text that is 100 words long. Change the way you feed information; ask questions in the headings, answer it in the next 50 words, and continue to think as many as thousand words as much as your imagination.
Use long lists. Google cannot fit the entire list into the featured snippet window, so it trims it. This encourages users to go to your site to find out how it all ends. If the content only fits on a short list, try writing as many words as possible in each paragraph. In these lists, Google cuts off every element, which also forces the user to go to the site in search of lost content.
Do not overdo it. Put user-friendliness first. If the best option for the list is to stay short and fit completely in the featured snippet, it’s best to leave it like that. This is normal.
- Add FAQ to your site.
Often times, people create separate pages on sites to answer readers’ questions. If you do not have pages like this already, then it’s time to start creating them.
FAQ is a quick way to format content as a question and answer. Featured snippets gets content that answers the questions of users, so this trick will help you break into the lead in search.
Through the FAQ, you can answer frequently asked questions about your services, products, and industry. So you can talk about relevant information immediately on the search page.
Dilute the block with the answers of the photo and video. This will increase the chances of getting to a featured snippet.
- Do your best to get to the first page of SERP.
99.58% of the pages that google features in snippets are in the top 10 of the SERP. At the same time, 70% of the content in featured snippets is taken by the search engine from pages that do not take 1st place in SERP. You have a good chance of taking a zero position if your site is high in organic SERP. It is still possible to get there if the site is not in the TOP-10, but this is quite rare.
In addition to the benefits that were already listed, before 2020, featured snippets could get you from the middle of the first page to the very top of the SERP. This way you could get past the successful sites and occupy most of the page because the site was displayed twice out of the ten links. This often led to an increase in clicks.
On January 23, 2020, Google changed its featured snippets policy. The search engine began to deduplicate the results. Now sites in the zero position are no longer repeated in organic search on the first page. Instead, Google wraps the result, which is duplicated on the second page.
Danny Sullivan once tweeted that the appearance, not only in the beginning but also on the second page, is not guaranteed at all.
Such changes caused a wave of indignation among SEO-specialists and cast doubt on the need to get into google snippets, instead of the classic race for TOP-1 is the priority. Being in Google snippets is not always profitable, especially if the site is the first in search results. You lose most of the clicks because the CTR of the featured snippet is lower than the first SERP.
Shelley Fagin’s Twitter post summarizes the situation with snippets google:
It is worth noting that innovation affects only specific pages and not the entire site. Only an exact match in google snippet URL will no longer be displayed twice on the first page. If the site takes the first position, it will still occupy it.
Will You Get Back to the First Page of SERP If You Lose Featured Snippet?
Previously, if the content disappeared from google snippets, you still remained on the first page. Your URL just kept showing up once, not twice. What will happen to the pages after the innovations of Google? Will the site return to the place it occupied in the organic SERP?
There is no exact answer to this question yet. Danny Sullivan commented on Twitter about deduplicating pages. According to him, the page will return to its previous position if it loses its zero position in SERP.
We advise you to monitor your positions in the search results. It is best to experiment and analyze how the loss of featured snippets will affect the position of your page in SERP.
How to Prevent Content From Appearing in Featured Snippets
For those who value positions in search results and do not want to get to featured snippet, Google has prepared three ways to protect themselves:
- Experiment with the max-snippet tag. It is used to indicate the maximum number of characters that can be displayed in a fragment. Content is blocked if it contains more characters than indicated in the tag, but meta descriptions continue to be displayed.
- The nosnippet meta tag prevents all content from being displayed in google snippets and in meta descriptions.
- The data-nosnippet tag cancels the display of specific content in featured snippet and in meta descriptions.
Featured snippets is the first thing that appears in SERP, and it is more than just a link. This is Google’s recognition of your content as an authoritative and relevant source.
Despite the innovations of 2020, there is no reason not to try to include google snippets box in the system of promoting your content. This is the highest place in the SERP that can be obtained without paying for advertising. Zero position is a way to steal the CTR percentage of the first SERP and increase your brand awareness.
Start with Semrush and keyword analysis for competitors that get into featured snippets.
Analyze the side “people also ask.” Choose the most popular topics and write content suitable for the format of the zero position.
Try to answer several questions in one article. Keep in mind that one answer should not be longer than 50 words. Separate text with headings and add lists, tables, and high-quality video and photo content.
Create or format the FAQ section. Tell more about yourself on the first page of SERP.
The best way to get ranked on Google snippets is to constantly create, update and format great content that will meet user requests.
Featured snippets will not go anywhere despite the changes, especially now, when its popularity is only growing. At SEO snippets are still a quality tool for promotion. It takes the site to a leading position in the search results and shows its credibility.
If your site is not yet in the TOP 10 of organic search results, the desire to lead SERP may be an incentive to get there sooner. Along the way, you will achieve much more than just a place on the search page. The featured snippet competition will open dozens and hundreds of new content ideas. It will teach you to conduct thorough case studies, which will help to attract if not google snippets, incoming links. Users are more likely to trust long-reads with in-depth analysis, and more often than not, such articles are cited. You will hone the skill of formatting and structuring content. If Google’s algorithms resist it, then readers will definitely not be able to pass by.
Keeping up with Google can be tiring. But the attempt is definitely worth it.