While searching on Google, you must have noticed a descriptive box answering your query at the top of all the search results. The highlighted content appearing as the top Google search result is a featured snippet which always appears above the organic search results right under the sponsored results in SERP’s. This article unfolds the mysteries of featured snippets for SEO nerds who are striving hard to generate organic traffic with their rigorous strategies to highlight content.
When does the featured snippet appear? How does it appear? What do you need to do to get your web page appear as a featured snippet? These are the queries I will be addressing in this post.
Google reduced the organic search results from 10 to 7 in SERP and made the generation of organic traffic on websites slightly difficult. But Google also introduced featured snippets which gradually gained popularity. If you are wondering about how and when Google returns a featured snippet, then you must understand that there is no rule. It is a type of query based on which the search giant decides. Google returns more featured snippets based on the web content which is why it is important to optimise your content accordingly.
What are featured snippets?
Google says, “When we recognize that a query asks a question, we are programmed to detect pages that answer the user's question and display a top result as a featured snippet in the search results”.
The most relevant content that answers the user’s search query is picked up by Google. Google looks for the best match to the query and reflects them in search results. It looks for the searched query term on the page and the websites ranking on the first page are always given preference.
Facts About Featured Snippets:
- It is not 1st but 0th Position in the SERP
- Descriptive content appears above the site link (page URL)
- 70 of the snippets are pulled from positions #1 through #3
- Enhances user attention on the search result page
- Online searchers click on the featured snippets to learn more
- Featured snippets are shown along with regular search results, giving them a pathway to browse further
- There’s no guaranteed method of getting the page into a featured snippet
- Google does not guarantee featured snippet listing
- High quality search results
- Tries to deliver best response to people’s query
- Drive manifolds traffic to a site
- Works well with mobile and voice-only searches
- Layout of the content is focused to grab user attention, helps the user easily discover the content and find the most appropriate answer.
- This is demarcated as a featured snippet because its appearance is set differently than a usual search result where description appears just below the URL.
- Google picks up sites in featured snippets, mostly the sites in top 10 results but for certain queries this might not be the case.
- These featured snippets may appear with other types of SERP results and features.
SEO nerds also use Answerbox Terminology interchangeably, but featured snippets are different from answer box though closely related. The featured snippet is not part of Knowledge graph. To avoid confusion, let's stick to the "featured snippet" term whenever there's a URL featured in the box because they present an extra exposure to the linked site (hence they're important for content publishers)
Types of Featured Snippets
There are three major types of featured snippets:
1. Paragraph: Google returns an answer in a paragraph form, plain text, or plain text with an image, content is present in the paragraph tag.
2. List: Answer is returned in a list form (content is present within list tags).
3. Table: Answer is returned in table format.
Here’s are snapshots of paragraph snippet, list image and table.
This image shows percentage share of snippet types in SERP
Do you know the optimal featured snippet length shown in Google SERP? Refer to this figure.
How to Create Content that Appears as a Featured Snippet?
- Understand what your customers are looking for
- Know that your reader and customer persona are important
- Generate user centric content as Google focuses on user search intent
- Know the questions your customers are asking
- Think of all the possible queries and generate content to answer those questions with: How to, what is, why do or why does.
- Using these question categories, create content bucket to answer users’ questions. Answerthepublic website offers a question bank that is required to turn the wheels. Another useful tool you can use is serpstat. Above all, Google search option offers much more through its auto-suggest feature in the search box. As a user types out a term, Google suggests the most popular related terms. By typing in a few words in search box, one can look for the top queries suggested by Google.
- Create high-quality user-focused content which is engaging and comprehensive.
How to Optimise Your Content for Featured Snippets?
- Firstly, decide the terms that will generate featured snippets.
- Look for various question-related queries, informational intent queries, long-tail queries. You can always refer to Google for other search result sections such as “People also ask” and “See results about”. Check Google Search Console to find which search queries generate more clicks.
- Finalise the best theme that will generate featured snippets for your website
- Finalise the keywords based on these queries, group keywords based on search intent and relevance
- See the queries for which you already rank higher. This will help you get featured and appear in the answer box.
- Use various tools to search keywords
- Optimise for featured snippets
Site Metrics for ranking in Search Results Featured Snippets
1. Off-site metrics
- Domain authority
- Page Authority
- Unique domains linking to domain
- Unique Domains linking to page
- Social shares: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest
2. On-page content metrics
- Create content
- Use good images – with keywords in URL and alt
- Check its Readability
- Keyword in the URL
- Word count
- Presence of paragraph HTML tags, list tags
3. Technical SEO
- Presence of schema.org code snippets
- Site Response time
- Page speed
- How long should be each content to appear as a featured snippet, optimize it accordingly. Here is a table with ideal featured snippet length.
- There is always a scope of improvements, keep monitoring your data and make changes accordingly.
Future of Featured Snippets
Will the Featured Snippet die soon and be ruled by a new Google strategy? Google is working on improving its featured snippet results. A closely matched featured snippet will start appearing in SERP when Google does not find any answer to users’ queries. In ‘A Comprehensive Guide to Featured Snippets’ by Google, you will find the mention that Google is working on displaying ‘near match results’ where the search results are closely matched with the user queries. In this case Google might show more than one featured search results.
Google might show more than one featured snippet in the search results to improve the search results and user experience, pushing the organic results down. Displaying the strongly aligned content as well as the one that provides contradictory information for better user experience is the motive.
One result displays reciprocal link building as, both, good and bad. So, a user can find contradictory response, both, in favour and not in favour.
Google says “On a typical day, 15 percent of the queries we process have never been asked before. That’s just one of the many challenges along with sifting through trillions of pages of information across the web to try and help people make sense of the world.”
Google welcomes users to share their feedback directly from the search result page about the featured snippets in search results for your query. Click on the "Give Feedback" link at the bottom of the box.
Featured Snippets Help with Mobile and Voice Searches
Today, mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches, and voice search is gaining popularity at a steep rate. Very soon we might see Google showing 5-3 organic search results.
The future lies in voice search and spoken featured snippets. Google is working on ways to show the source page in spoken search results.
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