Earlier this year, the big data company STAT analyzed about a million commercial search terms in Google. Their analysis showed that almost 10 percent of terms had a featured snippet in their results. This number is significant enough to warrant attention, but it is only likely to grow as content is optimized with snippets in mind. With such a prominent search position up for grabs, every site owner should be considering how they can grab this valuable real estate. Before looking at the optimization methods, though, it is worth detailing exactly what featured snippets are.
What Are Featured Snippets?
Anyone conducting regular searches will have noticed the top of the search results features an extract above the regular listings. The information is either in the form of a paragraph, a list, or a table. So when a user asks a question, the snippet will act as a summary, but there will also be a link to the site to find out more detailed information. A featured snippet is different from the Knowledge Graph, though, which is provided by Google and usually features short, direct answers.
What Are the Benefits?
A concern about featured snippets is that a searcher would get all the information they require from the summary, so there will be no need to visit your site. While this might be true of the Knowledge Graph, snippets usually feature more detailed topics that require visiting the page.
A major benefit of taking the featured snippet position is the instant authority you gain. You will automatically have a link, along with your website name, at the top of the search engines, standing out as an authority source. If you gain a number of positions for various niche keywords, you gradually can be regarded as a trusted source.
Along with the authority also comes increased traffic. While sites are fighting for the No. 1 search position, the featured snippet will take you above everyone, directly to the top of the page. The snippet is also unlikely to be taken from the first listing, so there is an opportunity to rank above mature pages that have received a lot of backlinks.
How Do You Optimize for Featured Snippets?
To stand the best chance of being featured you need to be strategic. Initially, you should start with keyword research. The keywords that are most likely to provide rewards are those that offer direct answers, so subjective opinion pieces won’t be appropriate.
Next, consider how to present the content with a featured snippet in mind. More often than not, paragraphs will be your best option, but there could be occasions, such as recipes, fitness techniques, or financial information, where a list or table is more applicable. Make the content user-friendly, including subheadings and a simple structure.
Your content should always be created with a reader in mind, but you can also tailor it for the search engines. Aim to answer the question in the opening paragraph of the article. Use short, direct paragraphs, offering a concise summary of the information. Try to put yourself in the position of a searcher inputting a keyword into Google, asking yourself if the content you have created would satisfy them.
Finally, add a Q&A section to your site, answering a lot of niche queries on this single page. Broader terms might be more deserving of an individual article, but smaller terms can be added to your Q&A section. Make the formatting straightforward by asking a direct question, creating a succinct answer, and including the keyword within the content.
By following this process, you stand a good chance of becoming a featured snippet. Of course, it is still necessary to promote your site with SEO, as Google will not draw from an unknown site with no authority. However, you don’t necessarily need to be one of the top few rankings to be used as a snippet. Featured snippets are likely to become more common as searchers look for immediate information, so optimizing your site will let you seize on these new traffic opportunities.