Featured snippets are the latest addition to Google’s ever expanding rich snippets roster and probably one of the most challenging but exciting things to happen in search for a while. From a user perspective, searching has never been easier or quicker. For businesses, it’s been something of a guessing game for everyone as to how to get featured.
Obviously every business’s goal is to make it into featured snippets, and up until recently it’s all been a bit of a mystery. Snippets run on a different algorithm to the rest of Google’s ranking signals, and as with any algorithm change, there’s been a lot of trial and error to work out its triggers. But with a bit of experimentation and a lot of patience, we think we’ve cracked it.
How is a featured snippet different to rich snippets?
Rich snippets aren’t exactly new, in fact they were launched way back in 2009 in a bid to make finding snippets of information a lot more streamlined and user friendly. Since then rich snippets has gone through a bit of a metamorphosis, offering a whole host of different types of content from video to business info to our current favourite: featured snippets.
Featured snippets sit on the very top of Google’s organic search results and aim to provide users with an immediate answer to their question. This is all part of Google’s wider goal to get better at guessing and understanding user’s search intent. Google will pull the featured snippet through from any page 1 ranking search result that answers the query best, this can either be in list, answer or table format.
But won’t that stop people clicking through to my website?
Yes and no. Certain reports have shown there’s actually been a 6% increase in click through rate for sites that do make it onto featured snippets – which kind of proves the opposite to be true. Nevertheless there has been concern about featured snippets pinching your traffic since users will not need to click through to your site to find out the answer to their query.
This is an understandable concern, but you have to consider whether the type of traffic that just wants a quick answer is the type of traffic you should really be worried about. If you’re really losing sleep over it, you could always try adding in a hook to your featured snippet copy to try and lure the reader over to your site for more of the same.
How do I make the most of featured snippets?
Play to your strengths
Since the majority of featured snippets are top 10 ranked, it helps to identify search queries where you’re already ranking quite high, this will be a good jumping off point. Use Google Keyword Planner to check out which search queries have landed you the most clicks and look at how you can transform that into a question.
Question-type search queries have the best chance of getting featured, so start yours with ‘How’, ‘What’, ‘Why’, ‘Where’, ‘Who’ or ‘When’ and be sure to feature it as a header in your content.
Optimise your content
You should try to answer every question as succinctly as possible. Google favours answers that will fit in their featured snippets answer boxes – so no more than 97 words.
This means restructuring your content a little bit so that Google gets its question and answer within the first paragraph. Then with enough intrigue built up in your initial answer we can hope that people will click through to your site for more details in the rest of the copy.
Don’t forget your images
Featured snippets utilise images from your page so don’t forget to make them especially attention-grabbing. Now this is where it can be a bit of a guessing game, Google chooses an image from your page and it’s not always going to be the same image you would necessarily pick yourself. So you’ll need to bear this in mind while choosing imagery for your post, as any one of them could end up in the snippet. Remember to alt-tag and caption them too!
If at first you don’t succeed…
If you’re really wanting to experiment with featured snippets, you could try building a question and answer list to give Google many options to choose from. For instance an ’SEO FAQS’ post would have multiple opportunities for a featured snippet.