How To Optimize For Google’s Featured Snippets For A Better Click-Through Rate
May 27, 2019
Today, the anatomy of the results is such that it aims to resolve their query promptly. Now, it contains more than just links to 10 results. There are Featured Snippets, People Also Asked, Business Listings, and so much more, and by optimizing your web pages for these types of results, you can get myriad benefits.
This post will introduce you to Featured Snippets, their types, how they differ from rich snippets, and, more importantly, how to optimize your content and web pages to appear in Featured Snippets.
What are Google’s Featured Snippets?
Here’s the definition of Google’s Featured Snippets:
Google’s Featured Snippets are displayed above typical search results. It’s a concise summary automatically picked up by Google from a web page.
Also referred to as Position #0 Results, Quick Answers, Answer Boxes, and Rich Boxes, Google’s Featured Snippets were first introduced in 2014… since then, it has evolved and become an integral part of SEO and content marketing strategies.
Featured Snippets aren’t exclusive to Google. Other search engines like Bing also show them, but due to Google dominating the majority of online search journeys, marketers typically do not focus on optimizing for Featured Snippets on other search engines. However, there are benefits of focusing on other search engines, and fortunately, the optimization strategies aren’t that different from the ones for Google.
What are the Different Types of Featured Snippets?
There are four types of Google Featured Snippets:
- 1. Paragraph Snippets
- 2. List Snippets
- 3. Table Snippets
- 4. Video Snippets
Before we get on to explaining the different types of Featured Snippets, let’s take a look at a study of 1,000,000 competitive keywords in the US published by Moz (Source). Moz’s Senior SEO Scientist, Britney Muller, goes on to explain how Paragraph Featured Snippets make up for 50% of the total Featured Snippets, followed by List Snippets at 36%, Table Snippets at 9%, and Video Snippets at 1.7%. Accordion Snippets were also part of this… at 1.75%.
1. Paragraph Snippets
As you can probably tell now, Paragraph Snippets are the most common, featuring a paragraph picked from a web page. Often, these snippets also include an image, which is typically picked from the same source. But that’s not always the case, as these images can also be from a different web page if it best resonates with the search query.
2. List Snippets
As the name suggests, List Snippets contain a numbered or bulleted list. Within the snippet box, you may encounter one or more images, but that depends on the source web page. For instance, one image will appear for each item or point on the list only if the source web page has added multiple images for each item.
3. Table Snippets
Table Snippets appear in the form of a table. Google typically shows tables for queries that have some sort of a comparison element; for instance, snippets related to white hat vs black hat vs gray hat SEO are more likely to appear in the table form.
4. Video Snippets
Video snippets appear when Google considers a video is more likely to provide a better answer for a query. This video may not necessarily start from the beginning. You may encounter videos with time stamps, so when you click on the video, it’ll start from the point where your query is being answered.
Featured Snippets vs Rich Results
As mentioned in the introduction, not all features you encounter in search results are going to be Featured Snippets. You’ll also see Rich Results, which are typically of three types:
- Rich Snippets
- Rich Answers
- Knowledge Graph
It’s where most people get confused, and it can be because it contains the word snippets, and the resulting snippet kind of looks like Featured Snippets. However, there’s a big difference between the two. Rich Snippets are an enhanced organic result because of Schema Markup. You may encounter these for e-commerce websites containing details like ratings, product information, pricing, etc.
Rich answers get generated by Google, and you do not have to click on anything to go to the source web page.
Google generates a knowledge graph from various sources, and these typically appear on the right side of the search results. For example, here’s what the knowledge graph of Techmagnate’s subsidiary BlogX looks like:
What are the Benefits of Appearing in Featured Snippets?
Surely, higher rankings translate to greater organic traffic, but there are myriad benefits to appearing in Featured Snippets. We need to first understand that Featured Snippets are Google’s efforts to becoming the main platform for accessing the information on the web, but since these appear with the source URL and image, the likelihood of users visiting your website increases significantly, translating to higher CTR (Click-through rate) and organic traffic.
We implemented a content marketing strategy for a healthcare brand and got their web pages to appear in Featured Snippets. This yielded great results in terms of increasing the CTR and organic traffic, and more importantly, we registered a significant increase in the booked appointments.
How to Optimize for Featured Snippets?
To learn how to optimize your web pages and content for Google Featured Snippets, you need to learn how Google creates them. Google’s algorithms have machine learning capabilities; they can shorten and restructure the content to show it in Featured Snippets. We’ve seen that with Meta Tags and Meta Descriptions, where the algorithm picks the content from a web page that best summarizes or showcases it.
Google is also focused on improving its NLP and machine learning capabilities, and it’s only going to get more robust with platforms like CHAT GPT becoming popular. Google is working on the various facets of language to have richer context around a search query and show the right results to resolve it.
Furthermore, the optimization strategies should resonate with the Featured Snippets ranking factors, which differ slightly from typical SEO ranking factors. Still, that does not mean you can stop focusing on these SEO ranking signals. If your web pages aren’t optimized for these factors, the rankings and the objective of appearing in Featured Snippets will be negatively affected.
So let’s get started.
Research Featured Snippet Opportunities
Identify the keywords for which you already rank for
Firstly, you can identify the keywords for which you already rank in Featured Snippets. For instance, we entered our domain name in Semrush and got the keywords for which we acquired the position zero results.
Analyze competitor content that appears in featured snippets
You can’t just outrightly steal competitors’ spots on Featured Snippets, but it’s crucial to analyze it. It can be the case that they acquired that spot accidentally. Accordingly, you can target these and build a strategy around them.
Identify keywords for Featured Snippets
Now, you need to identify the keywords that you can target to get a spot in Featured Snippets. Using Semrush’s Keyword Magic tool, we picked the root keyword “SEO Services” and identified the related keywords that have appeared in the Featured Snippets. Here’s a snapshot of it to help you perform the same for your targeted keywords:
Create Content for Featured Snippets
Google does not offer a quick fix to get your web pages or content to appear in the Featured Snippets. Moreover, before you set out to create content for Featured Snippets, ensure that the content isn’t sexually explicit, provides disinformation, or focuses on contentious topics.
When it comes to content quality, it should be helpful to the users and resolve their queries promptly. Thus, focus on writing helpful content as well as factors such as expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, which Google referred to as EAT factors. Another thing to note here is that Google introduced another E to these EAT factors, which stands for Experience, so if you can highlight your experience in the content, the value proposition multifolds.
Choose a topic that has a chance of being featured
Pick topics that have a chance of being picked up by Google to show in Featured Snippets. For instance, if you’re only providing information related to the score of a match between Manchester City and Arsenal, the chances of appearing in Featured Snippets are meager because Google already has its own way to provide this information.
However, if you give an in-depth analysis of the match or answer the most frequently asked questions, the chances of appearing in the search results increase significantly. Thus, pick the topics/keyword types mindfully that have a chance of being featured.
Structure the content to fit Featured Snippets
There are a few ways to go about structuring content in the Featured Snippets context.
Firstly, let’s look at it from the content perspective. From your keyword research, shortlist the ones with, how, which, who, what, where, why, vs, and time intent. You should also try to include phrases such as “here’s how”, “summary”, and “takeaways” in the content, so Google can better understand the information’s context.
Secondly, use the headings to include the terms or target keywords and answer them in the subsequent text. Ideally, you should be using images for these subheadings, and remember, the alt text needs to be clear and complement the subheadings as well as the information.
Ensure the content has proper HTML formatting. If your objective is to get your content to appear in Paragraph Snippets, add the HTML tags. For lists, you should add HTML Tags like <ol> or <ul>.
Use data, lists, tables, and graphs
Use numbers, sources, lists, tables, and relevant graphs to increase the chances of appearing in the Featured Snippets.
Technical Optimization for Featured Snippets
Remember, the optimization factors we’re going to outline do not have a direct impact on helping you appear in Featured Snippets or position zero results. But you’ll need to optimize these elements, anyway. These are crucial ranking signals, and optimizing your web pages is important for them if you want them to rank higher on search results as well as Featured Snippets.
Here are the technical elements you need to optimize:
- Improve page load by optimizing the images and Core Web Vitals
- Use Schema Markup to help search engines understand the content
- Structure content with headers and subheaders (e.g., H2, H3, H4, and H5 tags)
Taking the position zero spot on search results is hard work, and creating great content is the only way to get there, along with the optimization efforts on how you present it. Book a consultation with our SEO and content marketing experts if you want to increase your rankings on search results and appear in Featured Snippets