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Google’s featured snippets: What they are and how to get your content there

Tue, 27/02/2018 - 08:00

You know that little box of text that appears at the top of your Google search? The one that always seems to answer your question without you having to click away? That’s a featured snippet. And you should be doing everything you can to get your content there.

Google’s featured snippets: What they are and how to get your content there

Here’s what Google had to say about their snippets: “We call these featured snippets because unlike our regular web listings, the page’s description – what we call a ‘snippet’ – comes first. With featured snippets, we reverse the usual format. We’re featuring the snippet, hence the ‘featured snippet’ name. We also generate featured snippets in a different way from our regular snippets, so that they’re easier to read.
“We display featured snippets in search when we believe this format will help people more easily discover what they’re seeking, both from the description and when they click on the link to read the page itself. It’s especially helpful for those on mobile or searching by voice.”

That last point is especially illuminating with both mobile and voice search expected to increase significantly during 2018. Google says a massive one in five searches is conducted via voice. And that number is expected to increase rapidly. In addition, seeing the increase in mobile usage, Google made it necessary for websites to meet Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) standards. Emphasising the importance of speedy page load times, Google will notice when you've optimised your site and reward you in the search engine results pages.

Top marketer Neil Patel calls it “something that would drive massive amounts of traffic to your website almost without fail”. And who wouldn’t want that?

“The advantages of a featured snippet are obvious: more clicks, more visibility and a higher conversion rate. It’s an SEO’s dream,” Patel goes on to say.

What can you do to ensure your content is used as a featured snippet? Here are some tips.

Create quality content
Well, this is really nothing new. Google’s many algorithm changes of the past few years have all emphasised the importance of quality content. We’ve posted several blog posts about the importance of creating longer, more informative content. Quality content has all of the information that users could possibly need and, importantly, answers their questions.

Answer questions
Featured snippets are there to answer questions. So, it makes sense that your content needs to answer questions. Basically, Google searches through hundreds, thousands, millions of pages until it finds the one with the best answer to a user's question. That page is then displayed in the snippet to make the user's life easier. That's why it is so important that you know what questions your target audience is asking. And that's why it's essential that every piece of content on your website is created to answer questions. Consider adding a FAQ or a Q&A section to your website to further increase your chances of appearing in the featured snippets. Speaking of that, what are your chances of actually being featured? Ahrefs studied 2 million pieces of content and found that 99.58% of featured pages already ranked in Google's top 10. It stands to reason then that if you're already ranking high for your key search terms, you have a good chance of being featured.

Outrank your competition
Don’t lose hope if a competitor gets that coveted featured snippet position. Get creative and do better. There is always room for improvement. You could ask a better question, include better answers or include other forms of media like photos, videos or infographics.

According to an article about these snippets on SEO site Moz: “It takes a lot of research and planning and you cannot be sure when you'll see the results (especially if you don't have too many top 10 rankings just yet) but think about this way: Being featured in Google search results is your incentive to work harder on your content.”

Of course, the downside to being the featured snippet is that users might not click to your site. That’s obviously problematic but can be avoided by providing useful answers that barely scratch the surface within the snippet. Users will be rewarded when they click over to your site and find the quality, informative content within.