13 Jan 2019
One way of getting far-reaching CTRs and drive a high amount of traffic to a website is through Google Search’s “featured Snippet”. In addition to Google Ads, Maps and top Organic Search Result ranking featured snippets is the other way of appearing among the top ten on a search result. The featured snippets are currently funneling more and more traffic to websites as consumers are more and more interested in getting instant answers as readily and with as much ease as possible. Currently, a significant number of the queries triggers featured snippets as Google is moving towards providing quick answers within SERP.
Consequently, it is crucial for every website to be optimized with an aim of ranking position “0” on Google SERP. There are several tricks we, at Minds Metricks have found resourceful in optimizing a page to rank position “0”, but before getting into that, let’s first have a clear understanding of what is a featured snippet.
What is a Featured Snippet?
Featured Snippets are the special search results that appear on Google’s SERPS alongside organic results and below the ads in a box and are slightly more detailed than all the other search results. They are also commonly confused with answer box because of their similarities – as they aim to answer users query straightaway and both appear in a box but contrary to featured snippets the answer box doesn’t have an accompanying website link. A featured snippet gives a website an additional brand recognition and a higher probability of conversion. The ranking of a featured snippet above the organic result is referred to as ranking “Position 0”.
Featured snippets do not appear in all SERP queries. As per the August 2018 statistics by Rank Ranger, they currently appear in about 17% of search queries. One thing for sure is that they’re becoming more popular.
Two studies on the exposure a brand gets from featured snippets confirm that featured snippets give more exposure to a brand:
- According to Ben Goodsell, the CTR (click-through-rate) on a featured page increased from 2% to 8% once it’s placed in featured snippet with revenue from organic traffic increasing by 677%.
- Another Study by Eric Enge highlights a 20-30% increase in traffic for confluentforms.com while they had featured snippet queries.
A featured snippet is a summary of the page and often answers a question. For example, when we search for “places to visit in Dubai for free” Google features this:
The snippet displays an answer extracted from the content of a web-page along with the title and URL of the page.
Featured Snippet vs. Direct Answers
Do not confuse Featured Snippet with Direct Answers, as the name says, Direct Answer provides a direct answer to a query but have no link to the source of information.
For example, if you ask Google about the currency exchange rate for “AED to INR”, Google gives you a direct answer box without a link to any link as follows:
The answer box in this example is interactive, so as you can change the currency and amount and it will show you answers. Other direct answers are static for example for a query, "When is UAE National Day?" you will get the following answer box.
The different Types of Featured Snippets?
There are 3 types of featured snippet a Paragraph snippet, List snippet, and a Table featured snippet. The paragraph featured snippet is the most common according to GetStat:
Paragraph Featured Snippet
This is usually a descriptive featured snippet that answers a query in a paragraph form. Approximately 81.95% of the featured snippets are paragraph featured snippets making it the most common type of featured snippet. Here is an example of a featured snippet of a query, “how to edit images on Instagram”
List Featured Snippet
The list featured snippets are the featured snippets that adopt a listing format. They are triggered when the query is process related requiring a series of consecutive steps or other listing related queries such as ranking. The listing in list featured snippets may be orderly on merit or consecutively or disorderly following no order such a list of ingredients which do not matter whichever way they are listed. The list featured snippet accounts for approximately 10.77% of the featured snippets. Below is an example of a list featured snippet triggered by a ‘how to’ process.
Table Featured Snippet
The table featured snippets are the tabulated featured snippet. The table snippets are triggered by queries requiring visual presentation of data in rows and columns for purposes of showing patterns, relationships, comparison or analysis of the data. They account for 7.28% of the featured snippets.
The featured snippet is an efficient way of summarizing promotions, shipping, and pricing information.
What are the chances of getting a website featured?
According to a research carried out by Ahref, 99.58% of featured pages already rank in Google Top 10 results. So if you are already ranking high in the search result, you have a high chance to get featured.
Other studies have yielded varying results, for example, GetStat claim that 70% of snippets come from pages that do not necessarily rank position one on the organic search result. However, it essential for the page to rank in top 10, even though not the #1 position on Google SERP.
It’s to no one’s surprise that Wikipedia is the most featured website. This is perhaps because of Wikipedia’s highly optimized definitive approach and structure which gives it a competitive edge over general websites. All Wikipedia articles have a uniform approach of starting with an infobox, followed by a definition of the subject matter and use multiple subtopics that follows a chronological sequence – starting with a history/background to the present among other internal featured that perhaps give it the Google ranking advantages it enjoys. Wikipedia also accepts to publish only content of high notability with supporting reliable secondary sources meaning it is a site of optimized content from other sources. Consequently, competing for a featured snippet for a search query that already has a Wikipedia search result is even tougher than any other featured snippet. However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try as it is possible to rank higher than Wikipedia pages on Google SERP.
Ahref’s study listed down the popular topics with their most frequent words that appear in the featured snippet as follows:
Some of the queries do not trigger answer boxes or snippets such as:
- Images and Videos
Now that you know all about the featured snippet. It’s time to know how to rank at “position 0”.
How to rank a featured Snippet at “Position 0”?
There is a no guaranteed way to rank a featured snippet above the organic search result commonly referred to as “position 0”, but here are few tricks that are resourceful. These tricks include:
Improve your content to rank among the top 10 on SERP
Google’s featured snippets are largely derived from the top 10 results of SERP according to Ahref featured snippet study.
Subsequently, the surest bet for your selected content to get featured as featured content and the snippet to appear at “position 0” is to highly optimize the content and get it to rank in the Top 10 results of Google SERP. To optimize the content You can evaluate the ranking of your selected content on Google SERP to verify if you are ranking among the 10 on Google Search Console or whether the content needs more attention. If you are undecided on the content, you can simply go for the content already ranking in the Top 10 result.
Here’s how you can check for the content that is ranking in Google SERP:
- Open Google Search Console
- From the left-hand menu, click ‘Search Traffic‘ then ‘Search Analytics‘
- Check the ‘Clicks’ and ‘Positions’ options so you can see your best-performing content.
- Click the ‘Position’ column to order results by the highest position and add a ‘how’ filter to your ‘Queries’. You will be able to see a list of your best performing content.
Carefully evaluate and select the suitable keywords
Featured Snippets are triggered more by specific keyword as the study by Ahref confirms. It is thus important to be aware of these keywords and if possible adopts as many of the keywords as possible in your content and appropriately to achieve an organic flow. Here are few tips to consider when searching for the keywords for a featured snippet.
Use of long tail keywords
According to the study on featured snippets conducted by Ahref on 2 Million search queries triggering featured snippet, they found that long tail keywords triggered featured snippet more than short-tail keywords. Thus utilizing more long-tail keywords may be more efficient in getting your content featured at position zero. However it is important to note you cannot just throw long tail keywords haphazardly, you can only achieve this by writing detailed in-depth articles to cover all approaches users may enter their queries.
Use of questions, preposition, and comparison
Featured snippet is direct answers to queries and thus queries that are more inclined to seek direct answers such as questions, prepositions and comparison are more likely to trigger featured snippets. As a result, using questions, preposition, and comparison in your content may edge you closer to getting your content featured as a snippet. This includes using direct question words like who, what, where, why, when, and how in the keywords, article titles, and sub-headings. While question-based keywords are best for paragraph based featured snippet, preposition keywords, and comparison keywords works best for lists and table featured snippets respectively.
Use other keywords
The Ahref study further found out that there were some keywords that didn’t fall under the three categories – question, preposition and comparison keyword and they grouped them as “others” featured snippets keywords. Surprisingly these keywords under ‘others’ triggered featured snippets more prominently than the question, preposition, and comparisons keywords accounting for over 70.3% of the featured snippets triggers.
To achieve better results, utilize these other keywords in your content also, in addition to the questions, prepositions and comparison keywords.
Here are a few examples keywords from “others” category of keywords:
- Primary taste sensation
- Windows 10 compatibility
- Gmat score range
Optimize Content for Featured Snippet
Google uses advanced algorithms to extract data from web pages and turn them into featured snippets. For example, there is evidence of paragraph type snippets derived from a bullet point web page contents. On the other hand, the algorithms can also create list type featured snippets from standard paragraphs on web pages. Thus, although formatting is also key in presenting your content of most importance is the optimization of the content.
You can optimize your content in different ways including:
Create 10x content
As we saw earlier snippets are derived from the top 10 organic ranking on Google SERP. As a result, the first step in optimizing your content to achieve the top 10 ranking. You must achieve the top 10 ranking for your featured snippets to rank at position 0. To achieve this create engaging content which increases your chances to rank at position 0. The best way to rank in top 10 as MOz puts it is to ensure:
- The content you create is original, of high quality, reliable, useful, and interesting to read.
- The content also includes images and videos
- The content is attractive providing a positive user experience by utilizing the user interface, fonts and images
- The content is of value: - it solves a problem or answers a question by providing comprehensive, accurate, exceptional information or resources.
Format the Content
Formatting is an important aspect of all presentation to achieve the attractive look, give the content a logical natural flow, and for effective dissemination of the information. Utilize headings and sub-headings, paragraphs and lists to arrange your content in logical sections. In Wordpress, there is an option for H2, H3, H4 etc. as well as standard paragraphs and listing formats. Give your content a hierarchy to get a natural flow. Format the content of the main body as paragraph, list or table based on the information one is presenting and the most appropriate way to disseminate your content. For example:-
- Use of paragraphs for descriptive content – such as definitions and explanatory answers
- Use bullets or numbered lists for a list of items and ranking
- Use flow-charts to present multi-step process
- Use tables for the visual presentation of data or comparisons. Graphs and charts may also come in handy in comparisons
- Use relevant images to illustrate your answers
It is evident that as more and more business are seeking online solutions the normal organic search engine ranking is getting more and more competitive demanding exploration of alternative means to attract and convert traffic. Use of featured snippets is one of the alternatives that may be wise to consider as it is yet to be fully exploited. Featured snippets which are topically direct answers to search queries have a high potential of conversion especially when they rank above all the organic search results – position ‘0’. Exploit this alternative online exposure today by applying the tips given above.