Why Every Search-Conscious Marketer Should Aim for the Featured Snippet

Marketing
6m

Google continues to evolve, their goal: improve the search experience for every user.

In the effort to deliver the most relevant information in the shortest space of time, featured snippets are fast becoming the way Google answers many of our burning questions. In most cases, the snippet answers the search query directly, making it unnecessary to click on a link or visit a site unless you need more.

So even though there tends to be fewer clicks when a featured snippet is present, they now account for more than 80% of all search engine clicks. By comparison, just under 20% of clicks go to other organic results. But since 13% of all search queries result in featured snippets, it’s certainly something you, as a marketer, want to rank for, and we’re going to show you how.

What is a Featured Snippet?

A featured snippet is a short block of text that is shown at the top of the search results page in the “answer box,” located above more typical SERPs results and below the ads. All featured snippets are pulled from sites that exist in Google’s index – and according to HubSpot, featured snippets gets double the click-through rate than other first-page links.

Example shows Gate 39 Media’s Hedge Fund Pitchbook answer in the featured snippet.

With competition getting tougher and organic traffic that much more challenging to capture, optimizing for featured snippets is an excellent strategy that will help you drive traffic, increase conversions, and beat your competitors to the punch. In fact, snippets actually take traffic away from other search results, so it’s a good way to gain an edge.

And if you need another reason to prioritize snippet optimization, consider that Google has gradually increased the number of featured snippets they display, so it’s pushing organic results further down the page. Bottom line – if you want to claim that top spot, featured snippets is the way to do it.

All this is to say that these days, it’s a far more viable approach to rank for featured snippets than it is to keep trying to rank for top of page one, and here are a few good reasons why:

  1. A featured snippet places you above the fold
  2. It boosts your credibility
  3. It satisfies your audience
  4. It doesn’t cost anything

How Many Snippets Can You Rank For?

Any search query posed as a question is a candidate for featured snippets. To become a featured snippet, the content must concisely answer the question. It could be a definition, a table, or a list of steps, but if it gives the user the answer they’re looking for, there’s a good chance it will be featured at the top of the page, above the typical search engine results.

The beauty of the answer box is that it’s all about answering a question. It’s about value. It’s not about keywords or other on-page techniques – it’s purely about connecting searchers with the answers they seek.

And apparently, people ask a lot of questions about financial products. In fact, most of the top snippet opportunities are financial in nature, from insurance to savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, and loans. So right off the top, financial marketers are a good position to benefit from a little effort.

Top pages on the web rank for thousands of featured snippets. So, if your page answers a lot of relevant questions on a core topic, there’s endless potential. You just need to frame your content so that it answers questions.

For example, think about your customers’ most common questions and do your best to answer them as concisely as possible. Many snippets are pulled from FAQ pages or pillar pages, so if you don’t have one, or if your FAQ page could use a refresher, that’s an excellent place to start.

Here are a few actionable tips to get you started:

  • Page Length. Though there are no hard-and-fast guidelines on how long your pages need to be to rank for featured snippets, the highest-ranking pages seem to fall somewhere between 1200 and 1500 words per page.
  • Word Count. The word count of the average snippet is between 45 and 55 words, strengthening the argument for providing concise and direct answers.
  • Trigger Words. Since featured snippets answer direct questions, consider how those questions are framed. Some of the most common words that tend to trigger featured snippets include:
    • number
    • cost
    • best
    • price
    • definition
    • list
    • vs
    • meaning
    • review
  • Do Your Keyword Research. If you want to rank, you need to know what you’re ranking for. Be sure you’re answering questions related to those keywords.
  • Look Outside the Box. Right beneath the featured snippet, you’ll see a box titled “people also ask.” Use this as a framework to develop more snippet opportunities.
  • Optimize for Voice Search. Keep in mind that many people today use voice search, either on their mobile or on a smart home device. Because of that, the search term is going to be more like what they might ask you directly. Think about how they might frame their query and how you would answer that.
  • Keep Publishing Awesome Content. If you make it to position zero (above SERPs results in the answer box), there is no guarantee you’re going to stay there. The best way to maintain your top position is to keep on producing amazing high-quality content, make it relevant to the topic, and “snippable” so that Google continues to recognize its value.
  • Put the Most Relevant Content Up Front. Putting the “answer” at the top of the paragraph makes it easier for Google to recognize it as snippable.
  • Formatting Matters. Use H2 and H3 header tags in your content and write snappy, attention-grabbing headlines. They make the content easier to read and deliver a better user experience for sure, but there is some evidence to show that this approach also gives you an advantage when ranking for featured snippets. According to HubSpot, H2s are usually pulled for the snippet title and H3s for list items. Remove any unnecessary formatting and make the copy as clean as possible.
  • Numbered Lists and bulleted lists are often used as snippets, as are graphs and tables. Images are not always included, but they don’t hurt.
  • Work on Your Page Rank. There is a caveat here that’s worth mentioning – you can rank for featured snippets without a high page ranking, but it’s unlikely. According to current data, just under 99 percent of all pages that rank for the answer box are already top 10 in the SERPs. If you’re not already on page one, this is not the way to get there. Of course, there are outliers, but it’s rare.

Here are a few things you can do to improve your rank:

  1. Fix any SEO problems with your site
  2. Clean up your navigation and make it easy for Google to crawl
  3. Ensure your site is mobile-friendly
  4. Make sure your site is secure
  5. Improve your user interface and user experience

If your page already ranks in the top ten and a featured snippet exists for those page topics, you’ve already got a blueprint and a running start. Of course, if you need help making it happen, we’ve got the insight and expertise to get you the results you want.

Reach out today, and let’s get started.

BE SURE TO CHECK BACK AND FOLLOW OUR #WORKINGREMOTELY SERIES

You may also be interested in: