Google’s featured snippets, first introduced in 2014, are one of the most significant search engine developments in recent years to meet searchers’ needs.
Because of their prominence on search results pages, snippets are an invaluable marketing weapon, giving any business the potential to highlight content and boost web traffic.
According to HubSpot, content that appears in a featured snippet can get twice as many click-throughs as other search page results.
What Are Featured Snippets?
When you ask a question in Google Search, you’ll often see a search result in a featured snippet block at the top of the search results page. Here, Google shows what it considers high-quality content that directly answers search queries. They’re automatically extracted from website content, including a summary of the answer and a link to the page.
Optimizing Your Content for Search Snippets
While you can’t ask Google to use your content as a featured snippet or pay for the space, there are steps you can take to maximize your chances of ranking for featured snippets.
Know What Questions Your Audience Are Asking
Advanced Google algorithms trawl thousands of websites to find content that best answers a search query, so your content must concisely answer popular search questions.
What questions do people ask that relate to your products and services? If you’re writing about content marketing, questions might include:
- What is content marketing?
- How can content marketing help my small business?
- Where am I going wrong with content marketing?
- How often should I create content?
A simple way to find out what people are asking Google is to mimic a question one of your potential customers might ask. Google’s autocomplete function will provide suggestions based on the keywords you enter.
There are certain types of inquiries that Google prefers to feature in snippets:
- How to
- What is
- How do
- How does
- Why do
- Why does
According to Stone Temple Consulting, around 19 percent of searches using these types of questions resulted in a featured snippet on the first page of search results.
You should also check the “related searches” section under the search results for relevant questions. If you see a question here that your content hasn’t addressed, create new content or adapt existing content into a snippet-friendly format.
How to Structure Your Content for Featured Snippets
There are three main types of featured snippets that appear in Google search results:
- A paragraph from an article. The paragraph format features in around 63 percent of all snippet search results.
- A list. About 19 percent of snippet answers are in bullet points or numbered lists.
- A table. Around 16 percent of answers extract tables from articles.
- In articles, make each subtitle a question that you then answer in the paragraph below.
- Use bullet points or numbered lists when you can either summarize the answers to a question or answer a question in steps.
- If you need to compare and contrast statistics or figures, insert a table into your article.
- According to a HubSpot study, content between 44 and 58 words appeared the most frequently. And out of almost 1,400 featured snippets, a third were between 54 and 58 words.
Create Truly High-Quality Content
Your content still needs to follow Google’s quality guidelines to rank higher for featured snippets. Here’s a brief summary of how Google defines high-quality content:
- Content with a friendly, conversational tone that is free of slang and technical jargon.
- Easy to understand content that focuses on users’ needs.
- Standard American spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
- Using clear and descriptive link text.
- Using numbered lists and bullet points to explain ideas or solutions.
- Including outbound links to high-quality, respectable websites.
- Up-to-date content.
- Using visual content to increase engagement and understanding.
Provide the Best Answer
Having the best answer to a search query will increase your chances of being featured in search snippets. Try to cover topics from all angles, use visual content to back up your ideas, and tailor content to suit beginners in your niche.
Use Question and Answer Pages
Question and answer pages or FAQs are naturally suited to mimicking search engine queries and providing concise answers. Including an in-depth FAQ page about your main topic is a great way to get your content indexed by Google.
Target High-Ranking Pages
Featured snippets often come from pages that already rank high for a search query. Find your high-ranking pages by using Google Analytics and rework your content to make it more snippet friendly.
Build Brand Awareness with Search Snippets
From a user perspective, featured snippets are convenient, helpful, and accessible on virtually every platform. And as Google Search continues to improve the user experience, snippets are likely to become even more important.
By using the above techniques, you can boost your chances of featuring in search snippets, increase brand awareness, and make it easier for online users to find and interact with your content.
Do you need unique, quality content to support your SEO goals? Constant Content connects you with thousands of professional writers able to create articles, ebooks, product descriptions and other assets that engage readers while increasing search rank.