How to Optimize for Featured Snippets [2020 Updated]

Building a constant stream of referral traffic is an ongoing process which requires adoption and coming up with new strategies. As more people start to realize the importance of online marketing and the impact it can have, the competition to rank higher in the search engine results has increased.

Relying only on organic means to boost the traffic is not enough, and SEO experts are required to identify new ways of promoting the website so that it appears prominently in the searches. Google and other search engines have also come up with various options which provide opportunities for featuring more prominently for potential seekers of related information.

One such provision which is gaining wider acceptance is Google Featured snippets.

What are featured snippets?
Featured Snippets are search results that get featured at the top of Google’s organic results below the ads in a box. The key aspect of these snippets is that they aim at providing specific answers to the users’ questions. By having your content which can feature as a snippet for any specific query that the user has, your site would get more exposure.
As per a study, the CTR on a featured page increased to 8 % from earlier 2 % after it was placed in a featured snippet. There is also an estimated increase of web-traffic by 20-30 % for the sites referenced in a Google featured snippet. Reputed digital marketing agencies have reported the advantages that featured snippets have to offer and have focussed on website optimization for their clients so that their content gets featured in these snippets
Let’s take a detailed look at these featured snippets. There are basically three major types of featured snippets. Understanding them would provide more insights on how to use them appropriately.
Types of featured snippets
Three types of snippets are featured prominently in response to queries on Google. They vary depending on the type of query and the nature of content that is being featured.
  1. Paragraph: It contains information as a text. The snippet can also include an image along with the text in a box. The snippet appears a response to a query which would require a brief description or an introduction of something.  
  2. List: This snippet consists of lists. It is ideal for searches relating recipes or step-step guide for something.
  3. Table: Queries which require insights into a data are presented in a tabulated form. Examples could be a comparison of GDP across countries or number of COVID-19 cases etc.  
How can my content get listed as a featured snippet?
Featured Snippets do provide an edge in gaining higher visibility. Since they appear on top of the search results, the position is referred to as ‘Zero” rank. Depending on the type of content you have and the query being made, there are chances that your content would be visible as featured content. In most of the search queries, Wikipedia takes up the place. The vast relevant content of Wikipedia does pose a challenge.
The question does obvious raise as to how to get featured snippets.
Based on extensive research, there are certain aspects which can be worked upon to get your website featured in the snippets.
Few of the insights regarding the snippets include :
  1. There is a larger chance of featuring in a Snippet if your page ranks in the top-10 of search results or in the first page of the search results.
  2. More than 70 % of the snippets come outside the first position. So sometimes it helps to be ranked a bit lower to be able to appear higher than the first position.  
  3. Most of the queries are related to – DIY, Health, Finance, any requirements etc.  
  4. Local, shopping etc. related queries do not have featured snippets.  
  5. Long-tailed informational queries are a long hanging fruit.  
While this is some information which would provide with an idea of how to go about with website optimization, so that your content is reflected as a featured snippet, there is a bit more of own research that needs to be done.
Here are a few tips which could help you in optimizing the content.
    • A majority of the featured snippets are triggered by long-tail keywords. Hence conduct research on understanding the keywords that are related to your content or niche.  

    You can type some questions related to your niche to understand the results and analyze the keywords that appear prominently. You can also use any of the Keyword research tools to get a list of keywords that are related to the content.

  1. Try “People also Ask” section to understand the nature of questions that are asked which are related to your content. This would expand your scope of identifying the relevant keywords.  
  2. You can reach out to your readers, customers etc. to understand the nature of the queries. This activity provides insights beyond what automated tools can pick up.
  3. Check for questions which people ask across various platforms like Twitter, Facebook etc. This can be part of your social media marketing exercise to understand the related trends.  
This activity would help to understand what to optimize so that your content gets featured in the snippets. But the larger question is how to optimize for featured snippets. These days, this activity is provided as part of the SEO services. However, here are a few ways that you can try out to optimize for featured snippets.
Ways to optimize for featured snippets
Try answering each question concisely.
Google prefers to have snippets which feature within a paragraph. Research suggests a typical size to be around 45 words. Try answering the questions you got as part of the research within one paragraph. It does not mean that the article on your website is limited to one paragraph. You can break your article into meaningful subsections. Google prefers such long-form content and identifies that content that is relevant to the question to appear as featured snippets.
Factual information helps
Google has a preference for lists, numbers, steps etc. As we have seen earlier, List Snippets is one of the common types of feature snippets. Hence it helps immensely to the cause that the information on your website is organized in the form of lists, numbers and tables. Laying down the facts can help get noticed by Google.
Have a comprehensive article that can answer many questions
Analysis of Snippets shows that once a page gets listed as a featured snippet, it gets referred to multiple times for similar queries. Hence, it would be prudent to structure the article such that it can address a lot of similar questions. This would be a smarter approach to having a specific article for each of the questions. The key here lies in identifying similar questions.
Organize the content
For you to be able to combine the multiple related questions in one article, ensure that these queries are organized properly. This can also help in structuring your content well. You can have a generic keyword or a query as the theme or section of the article. A more specific search query becomes the title. Further specific queries can become subheadings. This structuring of the article based on keyword is productive as it can help connect the specific query to the related content in the article.
Use attractive images
Another way of optimizing featured snippets would be by using images. Featured snippets with images are eye-catching and are a prominent part of the featured snippets. However, the control of which image that Google displays in the featured snippet is not in your hands. In this scenario, the best option is to ensure that all the images in your article are attractive as well as contextual.
It apparently does take a lot of research and planning to be able to optimize featured snippets. However, the results are not always guaranteed. This is based on multiple aspects including – your current rankings, the content and ranking of the competitor etc. As highlighted earlier, the inherent incentive of working on optimizing Featured snippets is to work on optimization of your website. The featured snippet is a goal that you can try achieving, but there are other things that you would gain on the way.
  1. There are new content ideas that are developed.  
  2. You would get an opportunity to learn and explore topics and built in-depth linkages with other content.  
  3. You would be able to learn structuring your article much better.  
Overall it is an interesting journey to undertake, sort of as a mid-way audit of your website, which also presents you with a new goal and purpose.