How To Optimize For Google’s Featured Snippets: A SEO Guide

Winning the #1 position of Google’s organic search result is like climbing Everest. It takes lots of hard work, time, and sometimes luck.

But what if there is an alternative way to bypass a few positions and claim the top spot, without begging for backlinks or significantly updating your content?

Now you might be thinking, how? Is that even possible?

Yes, that is possible – by claiming a Featured Snippet.

If you don’t know much about Google’s Featured Snippets, don’t worry, in this guide, you will learn what is a featured snippet, types and how to optimize your page to claim rank 0.

What is a featured snippet?

A featured snippet is the special search result that is shown on the first page of search results in Google. Google SERPs has ten results in positions 1 to 10, but a featured snippet jumps the queue to rank in ‘Position 0’. It is referred to as ‘zero position because it is found right above the first organic search result.

This is because featured snippets take up the most space on a search results page. They are normally at the very top of the page too.

Featured Snippet

It is nothing but the summary of the answer to the user’s query and is extracted from one of the top-ranking web pages.

It consists of a link to the page, the page title, as well as the URL.

Featured Snippet vs Direct Answer

Many users get confused with a Direct Answer and Featured Snippet. The answer to a query without a link to the source is considered as a Direct Answer.

For example:

if you ask for the population of India, you will get the direct answer:

Direct Answer

And in the next example, if you search for currency conversion, “rupees to dollar”, you will get an interactive answer box. Thus you can change currencies and amounts.

Direct Interactive Answers

Types Of Featured Snippets

There are three types of featured snippets.

  • Paragraph featured snippet

Paragraph snippets (also known as the description box) are short excerpts of text that is usually between 50 to 60 words. In general, paragraph snippets answer questions around when, why, what and how.

Paragraph snippets are the most popular one out of all the four snippet types. Sometimes, you will also see a thumbnail image alongside the text.

Paragraph Snippets

 

  • List featured snippet

The list snippets are present in the numbered lists or bulleted list. They apply mostly to posts about step by step instructions, recipes or process-driven questions.

In other words, the list snippets are useful for the ‘process’ search queries that need a series of steps to accomplish a task.

List Featured Snippets

  • Table featured snippet

This snippet shows up when there is a query that is asking for direct comparison. It is an excellent way of summarizing promotions, pricing, and shipping information.

Table Snippet

Why Are Featured Snippets Important For SEO?

Google first introduced featured snippets in 2014, which is one of the most major SERP changes of the past decade.

Since a large percentage of users will click the featured snippet and not scroll down the rest of the results. It opens so many avenues for driving visitors to your site. Therefore, it is much more helpful and effective for driving traffic to your website than ranking for #1.

Google Update 2020

In January 2020, Google announced that there would be no repetition of results on the first SERP if a page is already featured in the snippet. Rather, the result may show at the start of the 2nd webpage. In other words, the URL would either appear as Featured Snippet or in the organic result, but not both for a given question.

Google Featured Snippet Update

For some SEO experts, this update has called into question whether ranking for featured snippets is good compared to ranking for the organic result. Having a featured snippet may not always be a win, specifically when the page would rank #1 without the featured snippet.

It depends on the intent, the query and the content contained within the snippet. The featured snippet may produce a higher click-through rate than regular blue links or give a zero-click outcome.

Average CTR Of Featured Snippets

The decision of whether or not to target snippets should be made based on your keyword ranking, CTR, click, impression and conversion data. However, it is a bit challenging task to analyze their performance as Google doesn’t offer the ability to filter by featured snippets within Google Search Console.

Benefits

  • Steals Traffic From The First Result

Featured snippets grab people’s attention quickly as it is placed on the top of the SERP. It raises your chances of getting noticed and getting clicked. Moreover, it steals some clicks from the first result.

You can also appear in the featured snippet if you rank on the 3rd, 4th position. This is quite a simple way to jump ahead of your competitors!

  • Appearance In Voice Search

Voice search is another big thing in 2020. Now people have considered voice search to get their questions answered.

The stats show that in 2020, 50% of searches will be conducted using voice assistants—for example, Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant.

Whenever a searcher does a voice search, it is likely in question form. And the answer is usually taken from a question type queries featured snippet. Thus, capturing a featured snippet becomes important.

  • Establishes You As An Authority

Featured snippets are one of the great ways to gain the trust of your audience.

In fact, as a user, you must have clicked on featured snippets many times. You can’t ignore that featured snippets give your posts high exposure and boost your website’s credibility. Even you don’t have to pay any extra fees to rank for it.

However, trying to position yourself as an authority in your niche is tough. If you do things right, you can earn a spot.

  • Fewer Clicks – sometimes

Many SEO experts believe that featured snippets reduce clicks on the search results.

If you get the answer of your query in the search engine result page, would you click on a result?

However, this is the case for some queries and depends on whether Google can provide a satisfactory answer in the snippet.

For example, take a look at the snippet of the query, “what is the age of queen elizabeth”:

Satisfactory Answer in Snippet

The answer is right there. You don’t require any more information than what the snippet provides.

Now take a look at the snippet for “what are the effects of acid rain”:

 Featured Snippets With Basic Answer

Although it gives a basic answer to the question, most searchers would want to know more. Therefore, targeting keywords with a low number of Clicks Per Search is a good idea.

Pro Tip Pro-Tip

If you are opting out for a featured snippet, it pays first to check which position your page would rank for the keyword without owning the featured snippet.

For example, here is a featured snippet:

Featured Snippet Pro Tip

If you append “&num=9” to the URL, preferably in Incognito mode, you can see where you had rank if you were not in the snippet:

Append Site URL

Being in lower positions and opting can hurt your traffic.

How To Optimize For Google's Featured Snippet

Whether you want to gain a traffic hike or reap other benefits of enhanced visibility, the featured snippet will help you. If you focus on ranking in the first three results for the keyword, you can easily grab the featured snippet position. But that is not a guarantee.

With precise and well-structured information, you can expect to get ranked as a featured snippet. Here are some tips you can follow:

1) Do keyword research and target for question search queries

To get 0 positions, you need to target keywords that have questioning intent in them. Cover all the question answers that most of your audience and target audience ask. There are various keyword research tools available to help you with this. If you want to know more in-depth, you can check our keyword research guide.

When you do keyword research, look for question keywords that you can answer with rich, in-depth content.

2) Look For The “People Also Ask” Box

While keyword research is helpful, don’t forget to check out the “People also ask” section. This section is usually present beneath a featured snippet.

People Also Ask Box

When you click on a question, you will get more related questions.”

This is a goldmine that offers you more opportunities to expand on a topic. Try to answer as many questions as possible in a single blog post.

3) Stay within the optimal word count

Keep each section concise so that Google can feature your content easily. Section off the lists, steps, and paragraphs rather than letting them all run together.

Just look at this list – It is only 47 words long.

Optimal Word Count

This is a normal length for a featured snippet. The common length of content in featured snippets is between 40 to 50 words. Thus you should try and keep each section of content no longer than 50 words and no shorter than 40.

4) Use Headers To Break Up Content Sections

A quick way to format your content for featured snippets is to break up each section. Use “paragraph styles” section in WordPress to do this. Organize lists, steps, or paragraphs with headers.

Use h1, h2, h3 tags to organize subheadings by size.

If you add steps (step 1, step 2) to each heading phrase, Google will place them in chronological order. Therefore format your article in chronological order too, so that Google will be more likely to feature it.

Here is how to format your post for snippets:

  • Use short sentences that give direct answers.
  • Use numbered lists, bullets, tables or graphs
  • Use descriptive headers and use tags h1, h2, h3, etc.
  • Add the appropriate image along with the snippet query you are answering.

5) Use Inverted Pyramid Style For Writing

The Inverse Pyramid is a concept in journalism which teaches us how information should be structured.

When writing impressive and relevant content start by giving the answer to the most awaited part and then proceed with supporting details for the rest of the content.
Inverted Pyramid Style Writing Format

6) Try To Rank On The First Page Of Google Search Results

Ranking on page 1 offers you a chance to be featured in a snippet. So revisit strategies on how to improve your On-Page SEO while giving great user experience.

  • Analyze SEO problems and fix penalties.
  • Practice internal linking and link to quality external sources.
  • Your website should be easy to navigate.
  • Make your website fast, mobile-friendly and easy to crawl.
  • User-friendly URL addresses.
  • Keep your content fresh and target it with search intent.
  • Optimize your content and images.
  • Your web page should be readable and user friendly.

7) Add a “how-to” section to your website

It is a great idea to redesign your website in such a way that lets you optimize “how-to” content.

Some websites create entire sections on their websites that are specifically for giving answers to their reader’s question.

This gives all your content that is purely based on answering questions or solving problems a place to live on your site.

8) Include Images with a relevant Alt Text

It might not be the biggest factor of all, but it is great to have at least one image on the page with a relevant Alt Text. Most searchers love to learn visually, so photos and videos can help you rank for featured snippets.

Pick up high-quality custom images or videos if you want to raise your chance to appear on featured snippets.

Have a look at these research results:

Knowledge Box With Image Graph

Featured snippets with images are more eye-catching than snippets without images. You can use Canva as this tool is easy to use. Also, you can customise your visuals by adding some icons, frames, and shapes or you can simply use a free Canve stock photo.

9) Add a FAQs Page To Your Website

FAQs pages are beneficial to website owners who provide services or products. These pages demonstrate expertise by addressing concerns. When creating a Q&A page, write complete answers in short paragraphs and keep them to the point.

Using Nosnippet, Data-Nosnippet and Max-snippet

To prevent all content from capturing in featured snippets, Google gives three options:

1. Use the Nosnippet meta tag to the page to avert all content on the page from appearing in both regular snippets (meta descriptions) and featured snippets.

2. Add Data No-snippet tag inline with div, span, or section HTML elements to prevent that specific text from appearing in both snippets.

3. To restrict content from appearing in featured snippets, but enable regular snippets to be shown use max snippet tag. It is used to specify the highest number of characters that can be displayed in a snippet.

It allows for meta description to still be displayed. However, blocks other content from appearing in featured snippets as long as the selected content has more characters than the specified max-snippet.

Some Facts About Snippets

  • Featured snippets are search volume independent.

Google doesn’t consider keyword search volume to enable featured snippets for that query. It is dependent on the informational factor of the keyword, and how well Google can recognise the relevancy of content to the search query.

  • Featured snippets are not opinions.

It is a piece of data and means to show information. Thus, observe featured snippets appear for informational keywords and not for opinion or judgemental related keywords.

  • Google does not collect snippet info from multiple parts of the page.

Information on your page has to be concise and together for it to be considered as a snippet.

For example, if you are targeting a description box, your 40 to 50 words answer is direct and crisp.

Or if you are targeting for a table snippet, related data has to be in one single table. Google won’t pick rows of multiple tables or accumulate them to create a snippet.

Conclusion

If you want to get better traffic, you should know that winning the first position in SERP isn’t the only solution. Ranking in featured snippets give you another chance.

Anything missed from the above post, here is the quick recap of the complete guide:

  • Do More and More Keyword Research
  • Target question-type search queries
  • Check Google’s “People Also Ask” Box for questions.
  • Stick to the length of 40 to 50 words
  • Format your post for target snippets
  • Divide content into sections using headers
  • Write content using inverted pyramid style
  • Add “how to section” to your website
  • Add relevant image with Alt Text
  • Add Q&A Page to your website

Frequently Asked Questions

1) Is Featured Snippet Being Affected by EAT considerations?

Featured snippets had a set of unique requirements that govern which text is eligible to appear in the snippet.

They must not be:

  • Hateful
  • Violent
  • Sexually explicit
  • Dangerous
  • Harmful
  • Contradicting consensus on public interest topics

Based on these rules, the snippet can either be removed by Google or reported by searchers for violating their policies.

2) Does Google display featured snippets for controversial queries?

When we search for controversial queries, here is results:

Query: Did the Holocaust happen?
No featured snippet

Query: Is the earth round?
No featured snippet

In the case of controversial searches, it appears that Google is choosing not to display a featured snippet for many queries.

3) How Can I opt-out of Featured snippets?

You can opt-out of feature snippets either by using ‘Nosnippet tag’ or ‘max-snippet tag’.

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