Google Featured Snippets Optimization
Google featured snippets provide quick answers to search queries. Featured snippets are programmable copies of existing content, positioned at the top of organic results and below paid results. They are displayed in an expanding box and are typically between 54-58 words in length. These are chosen by Google among organic results.
Earning a featured snippet for a search query is a very difficult process, and many marketers are unsure of the exact metrics Google uses to decide its featured snippet. The popularity of featured snippets has resulted in a 2x increase in their use in organic search results from 2015 to 2016.
Many marketers are weary of the exact utility featured snippets provide; users can simply collect the information they are looking for without actually making a click. Yet, research has shown that featured snippets may actually increase the CTR of a website through numerous case studies.
Achieving a featured snippet may save businesses money from investing in a PPC ad campaign. This also gives e-commerce websites the ability to rank for informational queries and increases the visibility of the website.
What We Know About Featured Snippets
Any website could achieve a featured snippet regardless of brand recognition or organic rank. Research has shown that engagement metrics and organic rank are the biggest factors in achieving a featured snippet. A case study from moz.com showed that Google pulled a featured snippet from websites ranking 1-3 within an organic search result 70% of the time.
Unfortunately, featured snippets tend to alternate daily or by the hour. Position 5 within an organic search result may achieve a featured snippet over position 1. There have been cases where a website, which ranked in an organic position of 70 achieved a featured snippet.
What many marketers have begun to understand is that engagement metrics, such as CTR, dwell time, and conversion rate, may be the most important factors in determining what content is mentioned in a featured snippet. The same principle applies to Google’s PPC ad rankings as Quality Score, which is determined by CTR and engagement metrics, is a major factor in determining ad rank.
Achieving a featured snippet is all a matter of the keywords you target. Question phrases earn featured snippets more than regular keywords. “What” and “How” keywords achieve this rank more than any other question phrases. Featured snippets which display paragraphs responses answer “what” questions while lists answer “how” questions.
For e-commerce websites, paragraphs which include costs tend have a higher chance for achieving a featured snippet than articles that don’t. Understanding these search guidelines will help writers better craft the format of their responses to specific question searches.
Identifying Ways to Achieve a Featured Snippet
Writers must identify the question phrases, which are being asked by consumers within their industry niche. Be sure to include the keywords “what” and “how” within your keyword phrase. Targeting questions, such as “How to Improve your AdWord’s Quality Score” has a better probability of winning a featured snippet than an article entitled “Understanding AdWord’s Quality Score.”
Consider asking real people, looking at social media, or engaging in an online forum to identify questions that people are asking about your topical niche. Be sure to provide relevant and proof terms that will specifically address your question query. Attempt to achieve rank for a specific topic rather than long-tail keywords to improve your chances of earning a featured snippet.
Within your keyword research consider consulting which keywords competitors are achieving featured snippets for; featured snippets are regularly updated. Consult the “searches related to” section of an organic results page or use Google’s autocomplete for new keyword ideas to rank for.
Now that you’ve conducted your keyword research and found a question phrase users are searching for, you must create the content which answers that question. Within your content, be sure the answer the question as specifically as possible within the beginning of your piece. If you are answering a “what” question, you will have two sentences to craft a specific response.
After answering the question it’s ideal to provide more detailed information in order to make your piece engaging. This will help content rank higher organically and thus increase its chances to be a featured snippet. Engagement metrics affect your content’s ability to achieve a featured snippet so remember the basics:
- Utilize white space and images to make content visually appealing
- Include videos, photos or infographics, etc., to make content engaging
- Write on an 8th grade reading level and don’t include excessive jargon
- Write with clarity to provide specific responses to question queries
Consider inserting an ordered or unordered list within your content to answer “how” questions to become a featured snippet. A study by Get Stat found that featured snippets contained a list 41.2% more than other organic URLs. Not only are lists easier to read and more engaging, they have a higher chance to be shared socially and rank organically than other forms of standard text content.
Be sure to optimize your pages rich snippets, reevaluate URL structures, and update your schema markup to make sure your website is as search friendly as possible. Research has shown that including a question phrase within your header tabs will improve your content’s chances of being a featured snippet. A study by Get Stat found “that featured snippet URLs included an exact match query 21.2% more than organic results.”
Q&A pages are probably the best way to directly ask and answer a question query. Be sure to answer the question precisely in 2-3 sentences and to provide more detailed information to follow.
A number of featured snippet URLs actually seek to answer multiple questions, but may only be featured for one specific question. While it may be easier to simply answer a single question, you will increase your chances of achieving a featured snippet by answering multiple questions. QA pages are both useful for providing users with topical information and increasing your chances to rank for specific keywords.
Updating Existing Webpages
Consult your webmaster tools and analytics software to identify which pages already rank high organically. Within your Google Analytics account go to your top landing referral pages to identify which webpages have the highest potential to be a featured snippet. Simply update these pages to include precise answers to question queries and adjust your header tags to create potential for your content to be a featured snippet. This method may be easier if you are strapped on a budget.
Possessing a featured snippet can improve your website’s CTR, visibility, and establish brand authority within your topical niche. From what marketers understand, featured snippets depend highly on your content’s relevance, organic rank, and engagement metrics. Of course, for all of your hard work, achieving a featured snippet will ultimately depend on Google’s own esoteric algorithm.