What Are Featured Snippets?

Google has several types of snippets. The standard snippet usually features a title, a meta description and a URL. A rich snippet includes the information from the standard snippet, but also features ratings, images, or other additional information.

The featured snippet, which we will be discussing here, is chosen by Google as the best answer for a specific question. Here’s what it is and why you should care about it. 

What Are Featured Snippets?

A featured snippet provides the best answer to a query typed into the search box. It has been selected by the search engine, and is meant to provide quick access to the most relevant information. A searcher should not even need to click on the result, but get everything they need from said snippet. 

Here’s an example of a featured snippet:

featured snippet example

Featured snippets are often called position zero, as the only thing that can appear above them is an advertisement. They are featured above the first organic result, and are often the first thing a searcher sees. 

SEOs often debate whether ranking for the snippet is a good thing or not. If a searcher doesn’t click on your website to learn more, what’s the use of the snippet? 

As it turns out, people do still click on the zero result. 35.1% of page one traffic goes to the snippet, if there is one. Granted, some queries will result in a lower click-through rate, but the snippet is still likely to see more traffic than the number one result. 

Types of Features Snippets

There are 4 types of featured snippets:

  • The standard, definition snippet
  • The table featured snippet
  • The list featured snippet
  • The video featured snippet

The standard, answer-based featured snippet provides the most relevant answer to a search query in a couple of sentences. It looks like this:

example of definition featured snippet

The table is Google’s way of presenting figures in a simple and easy-to-understand way. Here’s an example of this kind of snippet:

example of table featured snippet

The list can either be numbered or bulleted, depending on the nature of the query. For example, if you look for a “top 10 list”, chances are the featured snippet will be generated from the numbered headings of an article. If there is no particular order to the list, and the items on it are interchangeable, the list will usually be bulleted. Here’s what this can look like:

example of list featured snippet

Finally, the featured snippet can come in the form of a video. This will be the case when the question requires a video demonstration, and YouTube is able to provide the answer. For example:

example of video featured snippet

Why Are Featured Snippets Important for SEO?

There are several ways featured snippets can be good for SEO. Not only do they grab the majority of traffic, they are also a great way to “cheat the system”, and get clicks without rankings. 

What does this mean? Technically, the featured snippet is not considered the number one position, so the usual rules of ranking do not apply. If you are able to provide the best answer to a question, and Google recognizes it as such, you will rank as the featured snippet. Even if you don’t have what it takes to rank number one. 

This means that even small websites who have not yet built up significant authority can generate clicks and traffic by providing high quality content. 

Featured snippets are also great for improving brand visibility and credibility. If your target audience gets used to your name coming up at the top of search, they are more likely to click through even if you appear in a lower position. 

Featured snippets are also a great way to capitalize on voice search. Assistants like Alexa and Siri will usually use the featured snippet to answer a voice-posed question. This gives you the opportunity to show up for a lot of voice search results, widening your reach and improving your reputation. 

How to Optimize For Featured Snippets

If you want to start ranking for featured snippets, this is what you should do:

Find The Right Keywords 

First, you want to look for keywords that are likely to have featured snippets. These will usually be specific questions, often in a long-tail form. Rarely will you find a short non-question keyword to optimize for a featured snippet. 

Think in terms of the pain points your target audience is facing. What would they ask a search engine? How would they word it? Don’t rely on keyword difficulty alone – remember, different rules apply to the snippet than they do for organic rankings. 

Optimize For Questions 

You then want to ensure that your article is optimized so that it answers the question. 

Use the query in a heading. Provide the answer directly below. For added benefit, you can also bold the answer. Answer directly, without giving too much thought to keyword optimization. You will naturally use all the right words. 

Provide a Clear Answer 

Make sure your answer is clear and concise. Any additional information should be provided in the coming paragraphs, or even further on in the article. This first answer should be direct, informative and easy to digest. 

Add a “What Is” Paragraph 

To boost your chances of ranking for snippets, try adding a “what is” paragraph to your articles. For example, you will have noticed that this article has a “what are featured snippets” heading. The first couple of sentences are a direct answer to the question, and they are meant to be considered for the snippet. 

You can use this type of paragraph in most of your content. It will establish your authority, and help readers understand terms better. 

Use The Inverted Pyramid In Your Content 

In content writing, the inverted pyramid method means providing the fundamental information at the top of the page, and then arranging the rest of the information, from most important to least important, as you go further down.

Most readers just want to get the answer to their question. Don’t bury the lede and make them scroll for it. Give them the answer upfront. Then provide more and more detail, until finally you reach information that is least likely to be interesting to the majority of your readers. 

Add Schema To The Page 

By adding the appropriate schema to every page, you will help search engines understand what the page is about, and what kind of information it provides. This will make it much more likely to be featured in a snippet. 

Optimize Your Headings 

Phrase your headings as questions. You can use Google’s autocomplete feature, or the People Also Ask section to figure out what most searchers are asking about a specific topic. The more directly you are able to answer, the higher the chances you will appear for the snippet. 

Don’t forget that one article can be featured for numerous snippets, so treat every new heading as an opportunity to snag that spot. 

Update Old Articles To Be Snippet-Friendly 

Now that you know how featured snippets work, you can go through your old content and re-optimize it. Rethink your headings and their opening paragraphs. Check out what the current featured snippet is, and try to improve on it in your own writing. 

Don’t Forget The Internal Links  

Finally, don’t forget to capitalize on the featured snippet and send visitors to other relevant pages once they have clicked through to your website. You can use Link Whisper to automate the internal linking process and ensure visitors always have something else to read once they have found you. 

Key Takeaways 

Featured snippets are a great way to improve traffic and authority. Carefully choose the queries you want to target with a quality answer. Focus on being concise and helpful. It will take you a bit of time to learn how to write a great snippet, but don’t give up. It will be worth it once you get a couple of them right. 

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