July 19, 2021
What’s better than ranking #1 on a search engine’s results page?
No, I’m not talking about paid ads! There is a way to have your content appear above a search result in position #1–without paying for it!
Thanks to featured snippets.
Google and Bing use featured snippets to give users a quick and accurate answer to their searched query.
However, answering a question in a blog post or on a landing page isn’t enough to get your page ranking in position #0. In this quick guide, I’ll answer:
Let’s get right to it!
Featured snippets (also referred to as an “Answer Box”) are summarized answers to a user’s search query, that is featured in a box at the top of a search engine’s results page. Featured snippets often displayed in three different forms:
Photo Credit: Support.Google.com
According to Rob Bucci, the CEO of STAT, nearly 82 percent of feature snippets are paragraph snippets, followed by list snippets (~10.8 percent) and table snippets (~7.3 percent).
Before we move on, we should clarify that people often mistake featured snippets for knowledge graphs.
Knowledge graphs provide direct answers to specific topics, people, places, and companies by curating information from a variety of authoritative sources and usually appear at the top or on the side of search results.
Unlike featured snippets, knowledge graphs also present relevant information related to your searched query. For instance, if I search for “Michael Jackson”, Google will show me biographic information, recent news articles, most popular photos, his official website, social media pages, platforms where I can find his music, and much more.
If organically ranking at the top of a SERP is every SEO marketer’s dream, imagine how beneficial ranking in position #0 can be towards your marketing efforts. Here are just a few reasons why featured snippets are important.
One of the best things about feature snippets is that your content doesn’t need to rank in position #1 in order to be featured. In fact, according to STAT, 70 percent of the featured snippets didn’t come from the very first organic result. Essentially, unlike organic search results, featured snippets are based on content relevance, not domain authority.
Photo Credit: Search Engine Watch
Since Google originally created Featured Snippets to give instant answers to a user’s query, without having to open a webpage, there are conflicting reports as to how featured snippets affect click-through rates.
On the one hand, research conducted by Hubspot suggests that click-through rates for content in featured snippets actually increase as the search volume for a query increases. They found that content ranking in the feature snippet saw an average increase in CTR of over 114 percent for high traffic keywords.
On the other hand, recent research from Ahrefs suggests having your content in a featured snippet doesn’t necessarily improve your click-through rate. They found that when there’s a featured snippet on a search result page, the link in the featured snippet only gets ~8.6 percent of clicks (on average), while the page that ranks in position #1 right below it gets ~19.6 percent of clicks (on average). In comparison, web pages that rank in position #1 without a featured snippet above it earn ~26 percent of all clicks.
Photo Credit: Ahrefs
Well, there is no guaranteed way to get your webpage or blog post to appear in a featured snippet, but there are a few ways you can optimize your content to make it easier for search engines to crawl and scrape for relevant information. Here are my tips on how to increase your chances of getting content into a featured snippet
Since the goal of featured snippets is to give the most relevant answer to a user’s query, the obvious solution is to create a blog post or landing page dedicated to answering a frequently asked question. However, as Ahrefs notes, users don’t always type their query in the form of a question. Their study found that a majority of snippets are triggered by long-tail keywords and queries that aren’t formatted as questions, comparisons or prepositions.
For instance, if I want to search for a recipe for baked chicken wings, and I search for “baked chicken wings”, here’s the result:
Therefore, use a keyword research tool, like Google Keyword Planner to find keywords with moderate to high search volumes. You can also use Answer The Public to find searched questions, prepositions, comparisons, and long-tail keywords related to a specific topic and create a list of content ideas.
To make it easier for Google to crawl and analyze your content, use HTML to structure your content. While many content management systems like WordPress do this for you, here are some things you should always check for:
Skip the long-winded intro and drop your target keyword in the first paragraph of a blog post whenever possible. This will let Google quickly know exactly was your content is about early on.
Since the most common type of featured snippet is in paragraphs, try to provide a short definition or answer to a query in less than 40-55 characters.
Search engines understand that when someone searches for a query, there a good chance they’ll have more than one question that they’d like to answer. In your content, try to provide answers to questions closely related to a topic. For instance, if you’re targeting the query “how to make iced tea”, you can list instructions on how to make iced tea, outline what ingredients or utensils are needed or recommended, and even explain the different types of iced tea.
Another thing you can try is experimenting with the format of your content. I recommend trying two different formats:
Author’s note: I used this format at my last company that answered frequently asked questions–or in this case, concerns–about the safety of password managers. The result? It’s currently ranked on the first page for “what is a password manager?” Check out it out here.
I hope this quick guide was able to quickly answer your questions about featured snippets (see what I did there?). If you have any additional questions, feel free to tweet us @LadderDigital!
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