I tend to jump on the Google bandwagon every time there is a new feature. Given the fact that the search engine is my bread and butter, that is probably an understatement.
Some have panned out, others have faded away, and others were getting the hang of it all.
One that is here to stay is Google’s featured snippets.
What Are Google’s Featured Snippets, Really?
You could be forgiven for thinking that this is just another way to sort search queries in the world’s largest search engine.
Featured snippets are organic search results Google pushes on top of its organic listings when they find it best respond to the search query.
But featured snippets are so much more than that. They are a way to build authority as a brand. They are an organic search generator. They are a visibility enhancer.
They are a marketer’s dream.
Featured snippets drive more clicks from search results as well as build your brand’s recognizability (which in turn brings more conversions and brand loyalty, i.e., return visits and buyers). Leveraging featured snippets is becoming a key part of any solid b2b seo service.
Let’s take a look at how some of these searches work in practice.
I did a search for “hottest Christmas items in 2018”. In the past, this would have given you a page of results to listicles, sorted by sites with the highest level of ranking authority. Now, it gives us much more than that.
There are too many Google search result features to keep in mind these days!
The top selection of results is shopping results. They show five pictures with links to the stores selling them and their prices. Whether they are actually the hottest items is debatable, but they show how SEO is still thriving in a new form of result.
The next line is a blog post from Good Housekeeping talking about the hottest Amazon toys.
Now, to get to the top organic results, you may have to scroll at least once (more if you are on mobile)…
How to Optimize For Google’s Featured Snippets
The big question is how can you get on the gravy train and ride it into SERPville. It all starts by recognizing that the genre has expanded.
We still have the usual list, paragraph and table styles that are very popular.
But there is more to consider. A few months ago, for example, Google released carousel snippets. These are little term bubbles that give users a larger selection of potential results.
Another are People Also Ask (PAA), the expandable and eternally loading questions that adapt to what the user is showing interest in.
From there, it is possible to start exploiting the feature.
Do Your (Keyword) Research
You are always going to start with keyword research for the plain reason that it is your first step with SEO strategy. Featured Snippets are an amazing tool, but they are built on the same structure and premise as Google’s overall algorithm.
Without some guidance on how to tailor your content (and it will always come down to content), you will flounder and reduce your chances of snagging a snippet.
Ahrefs allows you to filter keywords by those that trigger featured snippets. It will also show you a preview of featured snippets in the actual SERPs for you to quickly see what is being featured:
Featured Snippet Tool runs your domain, extracts queries it ranks for in top 15, grabs those that trigger featured snippets, and shows where you are currently being featured and those you could get featured for (if you follow the steps to optimize your content better).
Once you know your keywords, go ahead and format your content accordingly, using H3/H2 subheads to highlight those chosen keywords and immediately following with a concise to-the-point answer.
Find Out What People Want To Know
Lately, I have been taking a different tactic with this one. Yes, I do the usual research, starting with my own audience and expanding outward. But I have discovered some other valuable resources for discovering questions that I had no idea readers had.
I have found that customer-centric content strategy works best for catching featured snippet opportunities that you wouldn’t have found otherwise.
Twitter has been one of them, a tool I used more in the past for engagement than content development.
Playing with Twitter search, you are likely to come up with quite a few search queries that will work for question research purposes.
Cyfe is a business dashboard offering an easy way to monitor several Twitter search results within one dashboard. Use it to monitor all kinds of tweeted questions around your brand name or your core term:
Another I have come to enjoy is Reddit, which is so full of super niche content that it is easy to find a whole year’s worth of an editorial calendar in an afternoon. Questions are simple to draw from this particular well.
Another valuable way? Ask. As in, ask people. Find out what they are curious about in person, in social groups, in circle within your industry, etc. You may be surprised by how much you find that is going to be Snippet worthy because it is a source that not as many others are turning to.
On a higher level, introduce these changes to your website:
- Start a knowledge base to collect and answer questions from your readers.
- Add a Q&A section to your product pages (think Amazon)
- Add a glossary or an FAQ page to define industry concepts and terms. Here’s a good plugin to do that: https://wordpress.org/plugins/glossary-by-codeat/
Schema.org Never Hurts
Schema.org a good way to help Google find its way to your content and tell it what to do with it. So far Google doesn’t officially use structured data for featured snippet algorithm but they keep running those experiments that do rely on Schema.org.
That being said, Schema.org can only help. So for your featured snippet optimization, consider the following two types:
Go With The Classics
With everything being said about the different types of featured snippets, I have to say that the classics are still a go-to if you want to enhance your chances of being featured. Google has always been very friendly to lists, tables, numbers and easy to digest information.
This also organizes your content well enough that it provides an obvious opportunity for Google. A blog article talking about the best fruits based on price for seasonal shoppers is good. But a list with each price for each of those fruits is even better. Google can display it right there on the top of the first page giving your URL additional boost – which is where you want to be.
Do you have any tips or optimizing for Google’s Featured Snippets? Let us know in the comments.