A featured snippet is the coveted position zero spot in Google’s search results page - find out how to rank in the highest possible place for your target keywords.
5 Ways to Optimise for Featured Snippets
Author: Albert Konik, Content Writer
Every SEO professional wants that sweet #1 spot on the search engine results page (SERP). Improving Google rankings takes time, effort, and patience. Sometimes, even that isn’t enough to get the number of clicks you want from organic search.
Well, what if there’s a way to get more clicks without going through all the pain and struggle of getting your page rank as high as possible? Let us rephrase that. Without AS MUCH pain and struggle? The solution here is optimising your content for featured snippets.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to optimise content that will grant you the #0 SERP spot.
What Are Featured Snippets?
Featured snippets are pieces of information Google displays at the very top of search results and are often referred to as ‘position zero’ by SEOs. Their goal is to quickly provide users with answers to their search queries.
To do that, Google pulls out the content snippet from the web page with relevant information and ‘inserts’ it inside of a featured snippet.
For instance, suppose you want to prepare yourself for your first tattoo. Your Google search query for that would likely be ‘how to prepare for a tattoo’.
Google will then provide you with the relevant answer in the form of a featured snippet seen above. That way, you can get the basic information regarding your search query immediately, rather than going through numerous pages that cover this topic.
Now, you may ask whether that’s a good thing from an SEO perspective. After all, your goal is to convince people to visit your website rather than let them get the answer they seek without providing you with that precious click.
Well, there’s no straightforward answer to this question. What’s important to know is that featured snippets do impact SEO. How? We’ll discuss that in a brief moment.
Why Are Featured Snippets Important for SEO?
Featured snippets can impact SEO in a couple of ways. One is positive, whereas the other can be seen as negative.
Let’s deal with the more positive aspect of featured snippets’ effect on SEO – mainly that they can provide you with an opportunity to get more clicks from the organic search results.
Moreover, they can get you more clicks without higher Google rankings!
Suppose you rank in the 5th SERP position. By ‘winning’ a featured snippet, you move your page to the very top of the search results page and trigger more clicks, provided the content in the featured snippet doesn’t fully cover the topic (our tattoo example, for instance).
However, keep in mind that your page still needs to rank relatively high. According to Ahrefs, most featured snippets derive from pages ranking in the top 10, with the majority of them coming from the top 5 spots.
Although featured snippets can improve your organic CTR, they can also do something entirely opposite. That’s because they increase the number of so-called ‘no-click searches’ – a situation where Google users don’t click any of the search results.
This usually occurs when a user’s query is simple and doesn’t involve an in-depth answer. For example, suppose you want to see how rich Elon Musk is (spoiler alert, filthy rich).
In this case, you don’t need to read a full article to learn this information. All it takes is a short mention in the featured snippet. Notice how Google also highlights key parts of the answer in bold.
Types of Featured Snippets
Before you optimise your content for featured snippets, you first need to understand their types. Featured snippets can be into four categories – definitions, tables, as well as ordered and unordered lists.
The Definition Box
Definition or paragraph featured snippets are designed to provide users with a direct and concise answer to their query.
What’s the ideal word count? According to SEMrush, the definition should be between 40-60 words (approximately 250 characters).
For Table featured snippets, Google pulls data from a page and displays it as a table to provide more organised information.
The Ordered List
A featured snippet can present a list of items in a particular order – either in the form of steps or ranking. Let’s take a look at two examples.
The Unordered List
If the information you seek doesn’t need to be presented in a particular order, Google will display the featured snippet with an unordered list.
How to Find SERPs With a Featured Snippet?
Before you start optimising your content, you need to find featured snippets opportunities. In other words, you have to look for SERPs that already have featured snippets.
Why is that? Because Google doesn’t always display featured snippets for specific terms. If there’s no featured snippet in the SERP, there’s no point in optimising your content for one.
By conducting research, you’ll be able to see what type of featured snippet Google wants to display for the particular term. This makes optimising your content a much simpler task.
There are two main ways to find SERPs with a featured snippet:
Use the list of keywords you want to rank your page for and check them one by one. If a featured snippet appears in one of the SERPs, you’re good to go and can start working with your content.
The con here is that this method takes time, especially if the list of keywords is extensive.
Ahrefs has a very handy tool that allows you to run an Organic Keywords report that filters out keywords without featured snippets.
Enter your list of keywords within the Keyword Explorer.
Then, select “Featured Snippet” under the “SERP features” dropdown.
The tool displays all the keywords that have a featured snippet in the SERP!
How to Optimise for Featured Snippets?
By now, you should have a general understanding of what featured snippets are and how to find SERPs containing them. Now it’s time to convert this knowledge into practice and learn how to optimise your content, and get it to appear in the snippets.
1. Provide In-Depth Answers for Users’ Queries
The primary idea behind featured snippets is to provide quick answers for popular queries. If the content on your page doesn’t do that, Google won’t even consider it as the featured snippet material.
Once you’ve found your featured snippet opportunity keyword-wise, think about questions your potential readers may have.
You can do that by manually typing in queries involving the keyword you want to rank for. Then, based on the results you get, you can see the potential queries.
You can also check the ‘People also ask’ or “Related searches” section in the SERP.
Use tools like Answer the Public, to check frequently asked questions on the topic that you are targeting.
Optimise your content so that it provides answers users seek. If Google sees your page provides an in-depth answer for the specific query, the chances are it will display it as the featured snippet.
2. Think About the Type of Featured Snippet You’re Targeting
Each type of featured snippet requires a different type of content. Here’s a quick rundown on how to optimise your content for various types of featured snippets:
- Definition featured snippets: Provide Google with a short snippet of text (between 40-60 words) that can be used as a featured snippet. Include the question as a header directly above the definition to make it as easy as possible for Google to understand that this is an answer to a question.
- Table featured snippets: Google collects table featured snippet content from, well, tables. If you want to get your text to appear in one, you should display your content using a HTML table. It’s that simple.
- Listicle featured snippets: Whether we’re talking about an ordered or unordered feature snippet list, your content should have one for Google to consider as a featured snippet material. In the case of ordered lists, it’s good practice to take advantage of headings and organise your content in a way that is clear to Google (and your readers).
3. Organise Your Content
Google loves well-structured and organised content. The best way to do that is to implement headers that divide your content into sections and make it easier to scan and read.
What’s more, if you use questions as headers and ensure to include keywords in them, your chances of getting your content to appear as a featured snippet significantly rise.
Besides headings, it’s also a good practice to implement relevant images, tables, lists, and other features that may help your content become more user and search-engine friendly.
4. Work Some SEO Magic
Creating/optimising featured-snippet-worthy content is not enough. To enhance the chances of Google displaying it at the ‘position zero,’ you also need to work some SEO magic.
When it comes to featured snippets, implement the following SEO tactics:
- Keep your URL slugs short – three to four words
- Create a catchy title tag
- Write user-centric and keyword-specific meta descriptions
- Use questions and keywords in your heading tags
- Take care of your internal and external links to support your page and drive credibility
- Use schema markup tags to help Google understand your page’s intent and recognise elements like lists or tables.
5. Continually Monitor and Track Your Content’s Performance
Optimising your page for featured snippets is one thing. The other is actually achieving your goal. When it comes to that, the best practice is to stay patient. Getting your content to appear as featured snippets can take some time, so be sure to monitor the situation.
If nothing’s happening and your page still ranks the way it has, keep optimising the content until you finally see a featured snippet. From there, be sure to track results to see whether there are any improvements in the CTR ratio.
Boost Your Visibility and Traffic With Featured Snippets
Although they may look inconspicuous, featured snippets can be a powerful ally in boosting your SERP visibility whilst also improving your organic CTR (click-through-rate) ratio.
Considering Google’s focus on user experience, featured snippets are expected to become even more important. And yes, that includes their impact on SEO. That being said, if you still haven’t considered optimising your pages for featured snippets, now is the time to do that.
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