Optimising Your Content for Featured Snippets
I am sure everyone of us, while searching on the Google must have noticed sometimes a descriptive box answering your query at the top of all the search results. This highlighted content appearing as the top google search result is a featured snippet. This always appears above the organic search results and just below the sponsored/ paid results in SERPs. This article unfolds the featured snippets mysteries for SEO nerds who are striving hard to generate organic traffic and busy with their rigorous strategies to build it with this showcase content.
When this featured snippet appears? How this appears? What you need to do to get your web page appear as a featured snippet? I will try to answer these queries in this post.
When Google reduced the organic search results from 10 to 7 in SERP making it harder to generate organic traffic from the website, thereafter Google introduced featured snippets in 2014 and gradually it has become popular. You must be wondering how and when Google returns a featured snippet, no rule, it is query type based on which the search giant decides. Remember, Google is trying to return more featured snippets based on the content on the web, so optimise your content accordingly.
What are featured snippets?
Google says “When we recognize that a query asks a question, we programmatically detect pages that answer the user's question, and display a top result as a featured snippet in the search results”.
Most relevant content answering the user search query is picked up by the google. Google looks for the best match query and shows in search results, it looks for the searched query term on the page; websites ranking on the first page are always given preference.
Facts About Featured Snippets:
- Its is not 1st but 0th Position in the SERP
- Descriptive content appears above the site link (page URL)
- 70 of the snippets were pulled from positions #1 through #3
- Enhance user attention on the search results page
- Online searchers click on the featured snippets to learn more
- Featured snippets are shown along with regular search results, giving them a pathway to browse further
- Support the original sources of content driver
- There’s no guaranteed method of getting your page into a featured snippet
- Google does not guarantee featured snippet listing
- High quality search results
- Tries to deliver best response to people query
- Drive manifolds traffic to a site
- Mostly for long tail informational queries
- Works well with mobile and voice-only searches
- You can opt-out of the featured snippet and normal search result snippet by implementing this tag : <meta name="googlebot" content="nosnippet"> on your page
- Layout of the content is focused to grab user attention, helps the user easily discover the content, find the most appropriate answer and on clicking the link a further read it.
- This is demarcated as a featured snippet because its appearance is set different than a usual search result where description appears just below the URL.
- In the featured snippet, content snippet appears on the top, above the URL and thus is named featured. This helps searchers find the usable content easily and if the user wishes would click to browse.
- Google picks of sites in featured snippets mostly the sites in top 10 results, but for certain queries this might not be the case.
- Do you know that Wikipedia.org is the most featured website in Google search results? Do all type of search queries result in featured snippets. Yes, but it is most popular for Do It Yourself (DIY) task types and their processes, health, finance, mathematics, requirements, status and transitional as per Moz.com. Still, there are queries for which answer box hardly appears in search results. These are shopping, local, videos and images.
- These features snippets may appear with other type of SERP results and features.
- Answerbox Terminology is also used by SEO nerds interchangeably, but featured snippets are different from answer box though closely related. Also, bear in mind that featured snippet is not part of Knowledge graph. To avoid confusion, let's stick to the "featured snippet" term whenever there's a URL featured in the box, because these present an extra exposure to the linked site (hence they're important for content publishers)
Types of Featured Snippets
There are three major types of featured snippets:
Paragraph: Google returns an answer in a paragraph form, plain text, or plain text with an image, content is present in the paragraph tag (<p> tag)
List: Answer is returned in a list form (content is present within list tags <ol> or <li>)
Table: Answer is returned in table format
Here’s are snapshots of paragraph snippet, list image and table.
This image shows percentage share of snippet types in SERP
Do you know the optimal featured snippet length shown in Google SERP? This image shows
How to Create Content to Appear as a featured snippet?
Understand what your customers are looking for?
- Know what your readers, customers persona is important
- Generate user centric content as google focus on user search intent
- Know the questions your customers are asking
- Think of all possible queries and generate content to answer those: questions with - How do, How to, What is, Why do, Why does.
- Using these question categories create content bucket to answer your users’ questions. Answerthepublic website offers lot of question ideas, just need to turn the wheels. Another useful tool you can use is serpstat. Above all Google search option offers much more through its auto suggest feature in search box. As a user type a term most popular related terms are suggested. BY typing in in few words in search box, look for top queries suggested by Google.
- Create high quality content user focused, high quality, engaging, comprehensive.
How to Optimise Your Content for Featured Snippets?
- First decide the terms that will generate featured snippets, this is a long process.
- In short, you need to look for various question related queries, informational intent queries, long tail other queries. For ideas you can always take a look at Google other search results sections “People also ask” and “See results about”. Also, check Google search console to find which search queries generate more clicks
- Finalise the best theme that will generate featured snippets for your website
- Finalise the keywords based on these queries, group keywords based on search intent and relevancy
- See the queries for which you already rank higher, this will help you get featured and appear in answer box
- Use various tools to search keywords
- Optimising for featured snippets
Site Metrics for ranking in Search Results Featured Snippets
i. Off-site metrics
- Domain authority
- Page Authority
- Unique domains linking to domain
- Unique Domains linking to page
- Social shares: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest
ii. On-page content metrics
- Create content
- Use good images – with keywords in URL and alt
- Check its Readability
- Keyword in the URL
- Word count
- Presence of paragraph HTML tags, list tags <ol> or <ul>, Presence of <table>
- Presence of search query in <title> tag
- Presence of search query in <H1>
iii. Technical SEO
- Presence of schema.org code snippets
- Site Response time
- Page speed
- How long should be each content to appear as a featured snippet, optimize it accordingly. Here is a table with ideal featured snippet length.
- There is always a scope of improvements, keep monitoring your data and make changes accordingly.
Future of Featured Snippets
Will it die soon and be ruled by a new google strategy? Live long life Featured snippet! Google is working on improving its featured snippets results.
Near match featured snippets will start appearing in SERP when Google does not find any answers to users’ queries. In a comprehensive Guide to featured snippets by Google you will find that Google has mentioned that the Google is working on displaying ‘near match results’ when the search results are close match with the user queries. In this case Google might show more than one featured search results.
Google might show more than one featured snippets in the search results to improve search results and user experience, pushing the organic results down.
Opportunity to display both the strongly aligned content and one that provides contradictory information for better user experience is the tantrum behind.
Example. Is reciprocal link building a good approach?
Are reciprocal links bad for SEO?
Show here a snapshot (snapshot 3)
One result displays reciprocal link building as a good and other as bad. So, a user can find contradictory answer, both in favor and not in favor responses.
Google says “On a typical day, 15 percent of the queries we process have never been asked before. That’s just one of the challenges along with sifting through trillions of pages of information across the web to try and help people make sense of the world.”
Google welcomes users to share their feedback directly from the search result page about the featured snippets in search results for your query. Click on the "Give Feedback" link at the bottom of the box.
Featured Snippets Help with Mobile and Voice Searches
Today, mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches and voice search is gaining popularity at a steep rate. Very soon we might see Google showing 5 -3 organic search results.
Future is voice search and spoken featured snippets. Google is working on ways to show the source page in spoken search results.