As part of the ever-evolving digital world, search engines are always trying to find new ways of feeding users with creative ways of displaying information.
Quickly digestible and often presented in an attractive way, Featured Snippets are an effective way to grab the searchers (often short) attention with concise definitions, step-by-step instructions, tables and lists.
Due to its ability to sit in a league of its own, and impressively, above organic rankings, featured snippets are often referred to as ‘Position #0’. As a result of this, this directs taps into the click-through rate from the search term.
A study by Ahrefs found that the top-ranking result of an average search term had 26% CTR, whereas a search term that had a featured snippet claimed 8.6% of traffic with the top search term claiming 19.6%.
This turns the featured snippet into something of a magic bullet, discounting all of the traditional SEO rules and practices to get ahead of the rest.
But it can also act as a useful tool for someone who is quickly looking for an answer and might not necessarily have to click on anything to get what they are looking for.
The versatility of the snippet itself can result in a no-click search, where all the information is quick and easy to follow, and depending on the complexity of the answer this can be answered in a short concise paragraph, a step-by-step guide a diagram.
Because of this, the snippet may have in appearing in Position #0 this may inform a wider keyword strategy, as this might divert what normally would be the organic traffic that is placing high up the rankings away from you.
The Main Types of Snippets
To help optimise your snippet for the search term, there are different types that Google and other search engines use. This means that you will have to identify the best way to format your snippet in order to have it feature.
Using a brief and concise description, definition and other information on a topic, the paragraph snippet is a useful answer to queries.
Of all featured snippets on Google, paragraph snippets account for around 70% of all of these, as they can be quickly digested when the search is clear and direct.
As well as using the paragraph to answer specific questions, they can also be used as a definition box, where it can give the basic meaning of something. This allows the user to then decide if they have got enough information, or if they want to read on.
A useful way of visualising data when making comparisons. The ultimate goal for the user is to be able to spot large gaps and differences.
The table snippet is especially useful when you are comparing clothes or products sizing, comparing big and small data and as another way of displaying a list, which leads us nicely onto the next type of featured snippet.
Lists are a great way to quickly solve a question or give instructions. The key to it is understanding what the searcher is expecting to see before optimising the format in the most attractive and user-friendly way possible.
Useful in different ways, they can also vary in their appearance. There are numbered lists, which lend themselves to step-by-step instructions extremely well. There are also bulleted lists that don’t have to follow such a rigid structure.
With YouTube becoming one of Google’s subsidiaries in 2006, videos are a great way to weave a snippet in.
These are usually used as a how-to query, where it is easier to demonstrate the steps visually rather than as part of a list.
Looks Like a Snippet… But Isn’t a Snippet
As time goes by Google always likes to treat us to new flashy new ways of showing off their capabilities. These fall under special content resource blocks.
These are instant answers that Google have preloaded without having to give credit to other websites.
Pulling different answers sometimes from a variety of different sources, appearing in a neat box with accompanying images, and in the example’s case, secondary information that compares the individual tiles.
When navigating through the carousel of images, you are able to click into each one, which opens up wider links. These are usually used when searching for landmarks, brands, people and organisations.
Slightly different to other snippets, Rich Snippets use a range of different features compared to others, where the format is more fixed. These are created by the search engine by reading code, using it to create rich results.
The extra information embedded within them enhance the detail, giving it its title by making it a richer result. Recipes are usually a good example of a rich snippet, as the pancake recipes have the ingredients, prep time and ratings, which gives you a lot to take in.
How Do You Get a Featured Snippet?
Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as sending a message to the good people at search engines asking for them to use a pre-designed snippet.
However, the good news is that as a form of organic content, the featured snippet box is available to anyone who knows how to optimise their content well.
With the majority of snippets informational in their nature, your content should be created to answer questions. In-depth content indexed by Google’s crawlers that gives the best answer can take the content to use in the form of a featured snippet.
Get Inside the Mind of the Searcher
SEMRush and Brado studied over 160 million keywords on desktop, as well as 46.1 million keywords on mobile, and it found that questions are an especially rich land for Featured Snippets.
29% of all queries that trigger snippets start with question-based words like “why”, “do” and “how”. Within this, 77.6% of all queries that start with “why” return featured snippets.
With this in mind, you can draw up a list of questions that you think your content could accurately answer. This involves research into the search itself, giving you a better chance of getting the snippet if there isn’t one currently.
If you are in need of inspiration on what sorts of questions people are asking, simply start searching a question in your search bar and let Google’s suggested search bar do the work for you.
There are other free resources that can help inspire your question-based keyword research, including Answer The Public.
Polish Your Content
The best way to think about achieving a featured snippet is that it is a reward for having truly high-quality content.
Just imagine it as if you are trying to rank something in an organic way, but instead, there are also sub-targets within it to answer the specific questions.
This goes for all content that you want to rank, but try and make sure your content is high quality, comprehensive, entertaining and engaging and user-focused.
Take a Deep Dive
What better way to show off how much of an authority you are in a subject than to take a deep dive into it, demonstrating what a pillar of knowledge you are on it.
This means that you can’t expect to achieve a featured snippet if you only touch the surface with your content.
Ways of achieving this include:
- Cover every question that could come up from this topic.
- Vary your content – from videos to step-by-step infographics and screenshots.
- Try and tailor the content for beginners, no matter what it is.
Always have an eye on the competition, if you are often left scratching your head wondering how some content is ranking highly that is a good sign. It shows that you have identified that you can create something better.
Q: Why is it a good idea to have a Q&A section on your page?
A: Because it is a great way to display all relevant questions with a pre-formatted answer oven-ready for featured snippets
Q: Great, so does this mean that they can replace the content?
A: No, they should consolidate the information already on the page. When creating this section, imagine it as it being a conversation where you are giving a concise answer.
Q: When you say concise, how much does that mean?
A: The ideal answer should be somewhere between a short answer that doesn’t give much away and a long-winded one that waffles on too much. This can be in effect roughly how you want your snippet to appear.
Featured Snippets The Future?
As search engines become more advanced, with a continual focus on user intent and experience, they will carry on gaining importance, becoming even more of a feature of a searchers life.
What we might not be able to predict is what form they will take. As the web develops, user and search engine trends start to shift. This could open the door up for even more ways of displaying information through a snippet in years to come.
Whatever happens though, one thing that we can be sure of is that by following the best practices in optimisation now, it will always keep you in a strong position. Content that is designed for people to consume in the most efficient and effective way possible is something that will always be key in making you an authority in a crowded digital world.