It’s no secret that Google is continually looking for ways to improve the quality of the results it displays to searchers. One of the more recent improvements they’ve made to search is the introduction of featured snippets. These bits of text appear at the top of the search results when a user searches for information about a topic and are a great way to drive a ton of extra traffic to your site.
In fact, they work so well that they’ve become a secret weapon for SEOs and content marketers alike. But, what exactly is a featured snippet and what the heck do you have to do to get one?
If you’ve ever used Google to answer a question, such as information about a specific person, place, or thing, chances are you’ve seen a featured snippet in the wild. Featured snippets are the boxes of informational content that you’ll see between the paid ads and the organic search results. The snippet displays content from whichever organic search result Google believes best answers the user’s query. An Ahrefs study from earlier this year found over 12% of searches have a featured snippet in the results.
Yes, this is a featured snippet about featured snippets. So meta.
Additionally, there are three different types of featured snippets including paragraph, list, and table, which will change depending on the query.
Now that you understand what featured snippets are, you may be asking yourself why they’re important for your business, products, service, or blog? The simple truth is that the SERP real estate Google gives featured snippets is massive. Due to their prominence in size and location, snippets essentially dominate the search results, providing your website maximum exposure without spending a dime on paid advertising.
Remember when I mentioned that featured snippets had become a “secret weapon” for digital marketers? This is because snippets are indifferent to big brands and sites that normally dominate search results. Any website or brand, no matter the size, can get this coveted page one position. Just in case you’re not completely sold on why you should be optimizing for featured snippets, here’s a quick breakdown of the SEO benefits:
All benefits aside, it’s important to understand that securing a featured snippet can be an elusive goal. There isn’t some “secret sauce” or special markup you can add to your site to ensure your website gets featured. Of course, it’s always a good idea to start with on-page SEO best practices as it’s only possible to be featured when you already rank for the query. You’re in luck, however, because we’ve identified a few easy to follow tips to help guide you in your quest to getting featured.
When it comes to featured snippets, it’s not a viable option for everyone. Because Google doesn’t display featured snippets in SERPs with Google maps results (also known as the “local pack”), local businesses will benefit more from focusing on their maps and organic results.
On the other hand, if your business is in a market where you see a need for clear answers to frequently asked questions, there are many terms and industry-specific lingo that need explanation, or your competitor’s websites are showing up in snippets, then featured snippets are likely an excellent opportunity for you to explore.
Additionally, you’ll want to find out whether or not your site already has any featured snippets. SEMrush makes it easy to discover your featured snippets as well as those of your competitors. To get started, head on over to SEMrush and sign up for their free trial if you don’t already have an account.
Once you’re logged in, visit the “Positions” in the “Organic Research” menu and type in your domain. You can then filter your results to show only those that have a featured snippet or simply click the “Featured Snippets” link within the list of SERP features.
Now that you know whether you and your competitors have featured snippets and what types of keywords get featured there, it’s time to identify more opportunities. Thankfully, this is the easiest part of optimizing your content for a featured snippet. Discovering great keyword candidates is as comfortable as firing up your favorite keyword research tool. There’s a bunch of them out there, but we typically recommend SEMrush Keyword Tool and the Google AdWords Keyword Planner.
You’ve already learned that the purpose of featured snippets is to answer user’s questions, so it’s not surprising that specific questions like “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” will often have featured snippets. Less intuitively, snippets often show up for implied questions as well such as “does SEO work” or “cost of digital marketing.”
Additionally, you can find questions that users have asked about specific topics by exploring sites like Quora, AnswerThePublic, and Reddit.
Whether you’re optimizing your existing content or you’ve hired a content marketing consultant to create new content from scratch, there are a few specific areas of improvement you’ll want to focus on to increase your chances of being selected for a featured snippet. These include:
In addition to the necessary optimizations outlined above, we’ve identified a few featured snippet specific best practices you should be following:
As Google continues to shift its focus to user intent and experience, optimizing your content for featured snippets will become increasingly important. It may seem like a lot of hard work, but snagging these coveted featured snippets isn’t getting any easier, so it’s best to start optimizing now. The extra traffic and exposure your site will get is worth it.