One major update that Google has put out that has impacted how users search is the Featured Snippet tool. As people search the web to find answers to questions, Google is working on helping speed up the process by selecting what it thinks is the best answer.
This is wonderful for users, as it helps filter out sites that might not answer the question correctly, or do it poorly, or just simply to provide answers without having to go into a site. Finding the Pythagorean theorem shouldn’t require going into somebody’s site. Google should just provide the answer.
For marketers, featured snippets introduce a new possibility for SEO and getting on the front page of important searches. Having the top result doesn’t mean automatically getting the featured snippet, and many smaller pages can beat out massive industry leaders. Here are some tips to get that new top spot on search results.
Choosing What Questions To Answer
The featured snippet typically only works when a searcher asks a question on Google. For example, if you just search Shaquille O’Neal, you will be presented with some news stories, a grinning photo of the man, and the top two results being his own site and his Wikipedia page. No featured snippet, just normal results.
But, if you search “What teams did Shaq play for?” you get a featured snippet from a third party site above Shaq’s Wikipedia page. Presenting a question gives Google something to focus on and to cut a snippet from a site with the answer.
As you research what questions to pursue, look at common terms that begin a search. Things like:
- What is…
- How do you do…
- Why does…
- When is…
But snippets are not limited to questions structured as such. Some featured snippets focus on simply defining an uncommon term. For example, if you search just “Marketing Automation,” there is a featured snippet explaining and defining the term.
Choosing what questions to answer is the first step to getting a featured snippet. Questions you want to answer need to be related to your industry and something your target market would search.
You’ll also want to choose a question that people are actually asking. Check out different data sources to see what people are searching for. One major tool to help with this is Google Trends. Not only can you see what is popular now, but you could use predictive analytics to see what questions could become huge in the future. That way, you can get the featured snippet early on and hold it while competitors try to catch up.
Starting With A Simple Answer
So you’ve picked out some questions you want to get the featured snippet for. Next comes actually crafting the content for it.
Towards the top of the content, have a simple explanation to the question you are wanting to answer. This can include things like bullet points, a definition, or simply a few sentences laying it out. Whatever you choose to use, keep it short enough that a reader could get their answer in a few minutes.
It would also be wise to include the question somewhere in the first bit of your content, whether it’s in the title or the first few sentences. That extra signal could help Google’s algorithms identify your page as a possible featured snippet.
Going More In Depth
After you have provided that starting answer, then your content needs to go more in depth. Google is looking to feature experts in each field, and delving more in depth can show you are such an expert.
That means breaking down each part of your answer, giving detailed information about them, and if applicable, providing actionable steps. It’s also important to cite sources to back up claims and link to other authoritative websites.
This “going in depth” step is important, even if it doesn’t show up on the featured snippet. It sets you up as an industry expert and provides extra wanted information to your readers.
That being said, going in depth does not mean being complicated or overly technical. When reading over your content, consider if your target market, or even beginners, can understand it.
The Value of a Featured Snippet
It’s easy to brush off the importance of featured snippets. Some might argue that it could hurt a site’s on-page visitor numbers, as many inquiries might never leave the search results page, but this isn’t so. The benefits for getting a featured snippet can help increase traffic and result in better qualified leads.
The first major benefit is increased traffic to your site. Case studies surrounding featured snippets show that acquiring them increases how many visits a page gets from the snippet.
Not only do you get more general traffic, but you also have the possibility of increasing your top of the funnel leads if done correctly. Most searches that involve a featured snippet are concerning topics that are either in an awareness or consideration stage of the buyer’s journey.
Finally, gaining a featured snippet establishes even more authority for your business and website. In a sense, it’s a giant recommendation from the world’s largest search engine that you are the best authority to answer this question.
Transforming Current Content
One stipulation to getting a featured snippet is that your page needs to at least be on the first page of results for the search query. For some websites, hitting the front page is a huge effort that takes a lot of time and work. But don’t fear! It is still possible.
What it will require though is to rework existing content that is already performing well. Look at what pages you have that are on the first page of results. If any of the queries it shows up on are a question, or already have a featured snippet, you are in luck.
Just rework how your page is structured to match what Google is looking for, and you’ll have an even better chance of getting featured. This will also give you a chance to update great pages with new information.
Ensuring Your Content Will Get The Featured Snippet
There is no guaranteed approach to getting any particular featured snippet. These are simply some of the best practices to get you there, along with other SEO best practices.
One major tool you can utilize, though, is your own customers. At every stage of developing content for featured snippets, they can give useful insights. They can help identify terms and questions they had before becoming a customer that you could target. Interviewing a few could help flesh out how your produce content both for leads and also for Google.