So, your website is showing up on page 1 of Google search results, everything’s groovy right? Don’t put your dancing shoes on just yet. Rankings are important, but you also want to optimise your search appearance to encourage users to click through to your site. One of the ways to do this is with ‘featured snippets’.
Let us explain…
You might have noticed that when you search for answers to specific questions in Google, a block with a summary of the answer to your question shows up first. Picture this — it’s the night before you’re child’s annual bake sale at school and you suddenly remember that you had volunteered to participate. You know Nigella Lawson is your go-to for baked goods, so you take out your phone, head to Google and type in “nigella lawson how to chocolate brownies”. BOOM. What do you see in the search results? The first 5 steps of the recipe.
Ok, that’s pretty funky you say, but why should I care if I’m not the one making the brownies?
Google uses featured snippets as a way to make the searcher’s life easier and can considerably improve your website’s visibility. Featured snippets are intended to draw attention to specific results on the results page and have proven to increase the click-through rate (CTR) of results ranking within them. A featured snippet should essentially be thought of as being the top ranking search result.
Types of featured snippets
Featured snippets come in all shapes and sizes. Keep Here are the most common types:
- Paragraph (most popular) — for questions like “how to do/get, who is, why is, what is” (Example).
- List — explains the steps required to do something such as a recipe or DIY tasks (Example).
- Bulleted list — for “best of” lists, ranked items or featured lists (Example).
- Table — for lists, pricing, rates and data (Example).
Tip: keep these different types of snippets in mind when planning your content. Can your content help answer a question, be formatted into a list/rankings, explain the steps to do something, or be presented in a table/chart?
How do I get my website to rank as a featured snippet?
It should be noted that obtaining a featured snippet is unlikely unless your content is currently ranking on page 1.
A study performed by Ahrefs found that 99.58% of all featured snippets are from sites that rank in the top 10 results for that search term, so it’s important to keep SEO best practices in mind when building your content and to continually improve your overall rankings (especially when it comes to long-tail informational queries).
Website content that focuses on DIY, health or finance is most likely to be featured.
- The first step is keyword research. Pay close attention to the questions users are asking when doing research for long-tail keywords. Use these to identify subject areas and then build your content around these terms.
Tip: Use tools such as SEMrush or Moz Pro to see which keywords you’re ranking for and discover opportunities for ones you aren’t ranking for. This is a great starting point to identify future topics for your content. Another great way to get insights into related keywords is to look at the “people also ask” or “searches related to” sections of the Google search result page.
- Next, create content that answers these questions. Best practice is to answer the question with a couple of opening sentences before explaining in more detail. Aim to provide clear, short and sharp answers towards the top of your page.
Tip: Make use of bullet points, succinct definitions and concise sentences.
- Finally, format using proper tags. Formatting your content is one of the easiest ways to help Google understand the main topics of your content.
tags for questions,
tags for your main content (paragraphs) and
- tags for lists. Keep in mind that Google loves well-structured, factual, and number-driven content.
This multi-level keyword strategy from Moz is a great starting point for organising your content for featured snippets.
|Section||Article topic||Subheading||More topics|
|Generic keyword||More specific search query (based on keyword research)||Even more specific queries||Closely related queries|
|Fitness||How to get fit at home||How to get fit at home without equipment||Body weight exercises you can do at home|
|How to get fit at home in 30 days||No equipment 30-day workout plan|
- Featured snippets are intended to improve the searcher’s experience.
- Paragraph snippets are the most popular.
- Content that already ranks on page 1 is most likely to be featured as a snippet.
- DIY, health or finance are the most popular topics featured in snippets.
- Conduct thorough keyword research and apply a multi-level keyword strategy when structuring your content.
- Create content that answers popular search queries and answer these in a short, sharp paragraph before elaborating further.
- Use proper formatting and tags to help Google understand the flow and structure of your content.