Optimizing Google featured snippets: What they are and How To Win Them
November 30, 2023
What has changed from the original post:
- Improved keyword density
- Added missing subheadings to improve information depth
- Improved content structure for better readability
- Linked to internal and external links to establish content trustworthiness and verifiability
- Updated content information to reflect current changes in Google search
Summary: Google search is evolving and incorporating new features to help users find answers to their queries in a single click. Instead of showing website links, there are featured snippets that you can optimize to rank above every other website.
While everyone puts more effort into claiming the first spot on the SERPs, savvy marketers aim for “position zero.” As you may know, SEO is multi-faceted, and a one-size-fits-all approach won’t deliver the expected results.
But first, position zero? What’s that?
This is the first thing users see when they type a search query, even before they click on a website. Or what is commonly called Google Snippets.
Since the discovery of Google’s answer boxes, there has been stiff competition among those who want to win them, which makes sense why you would want to figure out how optimizing Google featured snippets works.
Winning a featured snippet almost automatically guarantees organic traffic, especially if your answer offers the solution the reader needs. So, learning how to optimize for featured snippets to boost your website ranking is definitely a plus.
What are Google’s Featured Snippets?
Google featured snippets are blocks of text that appear above search results for a specific keyword in a spot known as “position zero.” These sections answer the search query before users click on a website and have since been popularized as “answer boxes.”
Featured snippets are often extracted from pages with the best answer to the reader’s question and will include a link to the website.
They commonly answer complex search queries as opposed to queries that trigger direct yes or no answers. What started as Google’s experiment for generating quick answers is now a powerful SEO tool for boosting click-through rates (CTR).
These snippets outperform regular search listings, with 42% of the total click share. For this reason, optimizing Google featured snippets could guarantee a spot in position zero since Google extracts them from web pages.
Types of Featured Snippets
Google’s featured snippets are categorized based on the information a user is searching for. Once you understand how to get featured snippets, you can organize your content in a way that increases the chances of Google locating and rewarding it with a snippet.
But first, you must understand the types of featured snippets available so you know which one to target and when.
- Paragraph Snippets
- List Snippets
- Table Snippets
- Video Snippets
- Rich Snippets
1. Paragraph Snippets
Most users are familiar with paragraph snippets since they account for 70% of results for searches with “who,” “what,” “why,” and “how to.” They feature a paragraph that concisely answers a question and displays a link to the source or web page. Paragraph snippets also highlight helpful content in blue, showing the key point within a text block. Here is a paragraph featured snippets example:
2. List Snippets
List snippets appear as numbered (ordered) or bulleted (unordered) lists to rank items or detail the steps in a process for how-to queries. This is the second most common type of Featured Snippet on Google SERPs. Check this list featured snippets example:
3. Table Snippets
Table snippets are ideal for visualizing data in a tabular format for comparisons, rates, prices, and relevant numerical data searches. Even if the information on a website is not formatted into tables, Google can extract specific data and create its table snippet for better presentation.
4. Video Snippets
Google does not restrict featured snippets to websites alone. It may extract them from YouTube if relevant to the search query. Google will highlight the video section that answers the user’s question. By optimizing Google featured snippets, users can play this video directly without launching YouTube or watching the video from the beginning.
5. Rich Snippets
Rich snippets or rich results are Google search results displaying extra website details. From ratings to images and prices that aim to attract attention and boost organic traffic from Google. Unlike featured snippets pulled from web pages, Google pulls rich snippets from structured data markup within a webpage’s HTML.
When to optimize for rich snippets
Optimizing for rich snippets is valid when targeting competitive keywords, providing answers, or boosting local SEO. However, it works best for product reviews, recipes, event details, and FAQs. Rich snippets help your content to stand out, improve visibility and increase user engagement.
Why are Featured Snippets Important?
Besides boosting your ranking, there are more reasons why you should optimize for Google snippets. Featured snippets act as digital storefronts by providing direct answers to user queries, enticing them to explore web pages, thus increasing web traffic.
Once you understand how to get featured snippets, you display expertise in addressing user queries, which establishes trust with your users. This trust compels the user to visit your website and engage with you.
Building trust with users is huge for Google. During their last update, Google prioritized helpful content and de-ranked websites that didn’t offer real value to users. When you optimize for featured snippets, you can better position yourself as a business that offers value to its readers. While winning snippets won’t keep you from being affected by a Google update, it’s a great place to start.
How to Optimize for Featured Snippets
Optimizing Google featured snippets isn’t the same as optimizing your blog posts to win organic traffic. You must first understand how to get featured snippets, then strategically create content likely to appear in position zero. How do you do this?
1. Choose the Right Keywords
Like other SEO strategies, optimizing Google featured snippets starts with keyword research. Including keywords when answering a query is a great way to get Google to notice your answer so they can feature you in snippets.
Additional Read: A Structured SEO Plan for Keyword Research
Always use long-tail keywords because they align with users and are more specific than shorter ones. 17% of keywords with five words had a featured snippet compared to 4.3% of single-worded keywords.
For example, using the long tail keyword “how to build a shelf” is likely to win you a snippet compared to using “build a shelf” or “build shelf” when answering a user query. You can check the image below as well.
2. Leverage the Power of Questions
User search behavior is always changing and will impact whether you win a snippet or not. Instead of throwing a single keyword in the search box and waiting for an answer, users are now specific with what they are looking for. Through optimizing Google featured snippets, you provide immediate answers to any question they might have.
Keywords that trigger Google’s featured snippets have question-based words like “why,” “can,” and “do.” However, Google will automatically default keywords starting with the word “where” to a different search feature, either a Map or a Local Pack.
Start by creating a content plan that focuses on answering questions that start with these trigger words, then determine whether you will answer all questions in one or several articles.
3. Track any Existing featured snippets
If you have won answer snippets before, track your current snippets win and check for these things:
- What keywords did you have in the article that won the snippet? Was it a long or short-tail keyword?
- Which section is featured as the ‘answer’ in the snippet and how was it structured?
- How long did it take to win the snippet and how long have you held that position?
Taking these actions helps you understand what may have led you to win the snippet. Once you have a working formula, you can simply replicate it with other queries you are trying to answer. You also avoid guesswork with your target keywords and can optimize for Google-featured snippets easily.
Content Optimization Opportunities for Featured Snippets
There is no special Google trick to extract a paragraph from your web page and display it as a featured snippet. Winning snippets trickles down to on-page SEO, where you must deliver helpful content that conforms to Google’s helpful content requirements.
This implies that content should display experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, popularly called E-E-A-T factors. Let us explore the various ways of optimizing Google featured snippets to be click-worthy.
1. Use Headings
Make sure you properly use H1, H2, and H3, especially when writing a listicle. This tells Google what to feature in your list article.
Additional Read: Header Tags Optimization
2. Write Concise Answers
Most Google snippets are 2-3 sentences of a direct answer to a specific question. Even if Google displays a longer paragraph, it will highlight up to four sentences and cut out the rest of the answer. This means you have 40-50 words featured. When optimizing Google featured snippets make sure your main answer is within this word limit.
3. Answer Related Questions
After answering the target questions, answer any related questions. You can do this later in your content or as sub-headings. Identify any autocomplete suggestions in Google search box or frequently asked questions and provide a better answer than the ones provided. Know when to optimize for snippets that require simple answers to complex queries.
4. Write with a Logical Structure
When optimizing for Google featured snippets, write naturally and logically without overthinking. Factor in readability and flow, so your content reads naturally. Injecting too many keywords will appear unnatural, weakening your ranking and hurting your CTR.
5. Use Lists and Tables
Research queries that need tabular representation or lists, then include them in your content to increase your chances of winning a list or table snippet. Create well-formatted and easy-to-read tables, with rows and columns defining hierarchy. Use schema markups for structured data to improve how your tables and lists appear on Google’s featured snippets.
Optimization for Google’s Featured Snippets
Google features are always evolving, and featured snippets are no exception. Always perform regular research and experiments to find new ways to leverage snippets and use them to boost your web traffic. Although it takes more effort to land in position zero, the results are worth the hassle.
Did you find this helpful but would love help with your SEO needs? Book a free call. We would love to hear about your project needs and help you come up with a plan to win snippets and get more eyeballs on your content.
Are featured snippets good for SEO?
Optimizing for featured snippets will improve website visibility in corresponding Google search results. Ranking in position zero means that you appear on top of other websites on the SERPs.
What do you need to create featured snippets?
Google does not have any minimum length requirement for featured snippets. The required amount of text depends on the information in the snippet, language and platform, either mobile phone, app, or PC.
Are Google featured snippets free?
Unlike sponsored ads that appear above position zero, featured snippets are free, and the spot must be earned. Therefore, you cannot pay Google to place your content at the top of the search page.