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How to Optimize for Featured Snippets

5 MINUTE READ | December 12, 2018

How to Optimize for Featured Snippets

Remember that frustrating time when you had to perform multiple search queries before Google finally returned what you were looking for? Gone are those days – thanks to featured snippets!

The Google search engine result page (SERP) has changed drastically over the years. Much of Google’s focus has been to provide results to user queries quickly and effectively. This has led to various design updates on SERPs including the birth of rich results. Rich results include rich answers, knowledge graphs, rich and featured snippets. These rich results have changed the way we consume content on Google. As SEO specialists at PMG, we ensure that our clients are a step ahead and that their brands are showing up at the right time and right place.

In this blog, we will be sharing some tips and tricks to optimize for featured snippets.

Featured snippets are usually placed above the organic results on the SERP. They aim to provide instant answers to user queries. Google programmatically extracts this information from other organic results that best suit the query. Credit is given to the website with a visible link and title of the page placed on the snippet.

Featured snippets come in three forms:

Paragraph form featured snippets
Lists Featured Snippet
Table Featured Snippet

According to a recent AHREFS study, the rise of feature snippets has reduced the number of clicks causing what we call in the SEO world – ‘zero-click searches.’ As we can see in the below graph, organic click-through rate for mobile has gone from 66% to 38%. However, a case study performed by Search Engine Land highlights potential opportunities for featured snippets. They saw an increase in organic click-through rate from 2% to 8% in mobile for the page that was featured in a snippet.

This means that although overall click-through rates are falling for organic searches, there is an opportunity to gain clicks using featured snippets. This ultimately makes it important for brands to optimize for featured snippets and earn a zero position rather than aim to rank first on the SERP.

no-click searches

So, the burning question is how your brand can optimize for featured snippets?

Here are the top three optimization tactics we think are most beneficial for earning featured snippets:

Featured snippets are easy, digestible, bite-sized content to queries that contain questions. AHREFS research shows that long-tail keywords do not only bring converting traffic but now they also trigger placements for featured snippets. The catch here is to use keyword research to identify what questions your customers are asking and make sure content on your site is answering those questions.

Here is a process that has worked for me when researching keywords for snippets:

Step 1: Identify topics that relate to your target audience, you can also create subtopics if that is helpful. You should always research what your competitors are talking about and look at industry trends.

Step 2: Explore long-tail keywords within these topics by using tools such as AHREFS organic keyword reports, SEMrush keyword magic tool and even a simple Google search (autocomplete results, “people also ask” sections and related searches). The key here is to search for long-tail keywords that answer ‘what,’ ’why,’ ’when,’ ’where,’ ’which’ and ‘how’ questions. Answer the public is my favorite tool to use for digging these types of queries.

results for dresses

Step 3: Research further if your keywords appear for featured snippets. I love to use SEMrush as it provides a list of SERP features a domain is ranking for, and the keyword difficulty tool lets you explore SERP features for different keyword types.

Step 4: Optimize your content and format for featured snippets. Remember Google reads featured snippets in paragraphs, lists, and tables. Use these types to structure your content and then format with clear HTML tags.

To earn featured snippets, you should also look into answering various types of questions in one single page. A designated question page increases your likelihood of appearing in the SERP more than once. As we can see in the example below, Food Network Kitchen earned a featured snippet and also appeared for answering the question “What seasoning to put on chicken for chicken seasoning salad?” in the ‘people also ask’ section.

FAQ SERP1
FAQ SERP

This is a win-win situation for a brand, and therefore you should be looking into combining all your relatable questions into one solid designated questions page.

Have you noticed this when you search certain types of informational queries?

optimizing videos

As you can see, Google is returning a ‘suggested clip’ from YouTube to my query ‘how to braid my hair.’ We have also recently noticed something interesting with images:

How to make fluffy pancakes SERP

For example, my query ‘how to make fluffy pancakes,’ Google has provided two different links in the featured snippet. The link at the bottom is different from the link we see on the image. This proves that optimizing your image alt tags and YouTube videos can also help you earn featured snippets. In these cases, you want to make sure that you are answering questions in your tags, titles and YouTube transcripts so that Googlebot can crawl these keywords.

Maintain a 40 to 50-word count for the main content on page targeted for a snippet. This is the proven acceptable length for a featured snippet.

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The increasing use of voice search in the coming years will make optimizing your website for rich results an extremely crucial strategy. To earn featured snippets, you should optimize for long-tail keywords that answer questions, create a designated question page on your website, and optimize your images and YouTube videos. Although the rise of “position zero” and rich results have led to a decline in click-through rates for organic search, earning rankings for featured snippets can increase your chances of gaining extra clicks at no cost.


Posted by Shahista Kassam

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