Ranking #1 in Google’s organic search results is no longer enough to guarantee you the most traffic. These days, the real search engine real estate everyone wants is the top featured snippet position. Featured snippets are essentially mini summaries of content that appear prominently above other search results.
They provide a brief answer or overview to the user’s query in an eye-catching box. According to studies, featured snippets can receive a staggering 34% of all clicks for a particular keyword. That means if your site ranks #1 but a competitor gets the featured snippet spot, you are potentially missing out on over a third of traffic and clicks.
Optimizing to regularly obtain featured snippets has become a key goal in SEO strategies today. Ranking here can help you drive more qualified visitors, boost click-through rates, and beat the competition. In this post, we will cover what featured snippets are, why they are so powerful for SEO, and tips to optimize your content for earning this prime real estate.
The Importance of Feature Snippets for SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical for driving relevant traffic to your website. One important SEO tactic is optimizing your content to rank higher in Google’s search results. Recently, Google has placed more emphasis on “featured snippets” – the box of text that sometimes appears at the top of search results. Mastering featured snippets can significantly boost your website’s visibility and traffic.
What Are Featured Snippets?
Featured snippets, also known as rich results, are short summaries of content that appear at the top of Google search results. They provide a brief answer to the user’s query in a succinct and eye-catching format. For example, if you search “how to boil eggs”, Google will display a featured snippet with a quick step-by-step guide on egg boiling.
Featured snippets are generated algorithmically based on factors like page content, structure, and relevance to the search query. Google selects pages that it thinks provide the best answer for the searcher.
Why Featured Snippets Matter for SEO
Being featured in a featured snippet spot is extremely valuable for SEO and traffic generation. Studies show that featured snippets receive a whopping 34% of all search traffic for that query. That’s a huge chunk of potential visitors you are missing out on if your site is not ranking in the top spot.
Optimizing for featured snippets can skyrocket click-through rates. Users are more likely to click on a featured snippet result because it immediately catches their attention and solves their query. Even if you rank #1 organically, a competitor in the featured snippet spot may divert traffic away from your page.
Tips to Optimize for Featured Snippets
Here are some tips to optimize your content for earning featured snippet real estate:
- Focus on questions and high-demand informational queries in your industry. Answer common questions directly.
One of the best ways to earn featured snippets is to create content tailored to answering common questions and informational searches in your industry. For example, if you run a SaaS company for project management, target informational queries like “what is project management software?” or “how to choose the best PM software”.
Start by using keyword research tools to identify the top questions and phrases people search for around your niche. Look for searches with high volumes that indicate people are seeking helpful information. Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMrush and Ahrefs can reveal the most common “how to”, “what is”, and question-style searches.
Analyze the types of featured snippets that currently rank for those keywords. This will give you an idea of what content format works best – lists, stats, FAQs, etc.
Then create detailed, thoroughly researched content crafted specifically to answer each popular query. Answer the question directly in the intro paragraph using the exact keyword phrase. Follow up with headers, ordered lists, tables, etc. that provide additional details.
Optimizing to directly and succinctly answer high-demand informational queries signals to Google your content deserves to be featured. Crafting content around question-based keywords is one of the most effective ways to earn valuable featured snippet real estate.
- Structure content clearly with well-formatted headings and subheadings. Break information down into easy-to-scan steps and bullet points.
How you structure and format your content plays a key role in getting featured snippets. Google wants to showcase content that provides easy-to-consume answers for searchers.
Use descriptive headers and subheaders to break up long blocks of text. This makes your content more scannable for both search engines and readers. Include your target keyword in some headers to signal relevance.
Break information down into numbered steps, bullet point lists, and paragraphs with only one main idea each. Featured snippets favor content formatted in scannable ways. Avoid dense paragraphs and walls of text.
Use tables, charts or data comparisons to showcase key data, stats, or product feature differences. Visual elements help search engines pull out insightful facts or highlights.
Bold or italicize key names, phrases, or conclusions you want featured. Use text formatting to emphasize important bits. But don’t go overboard.
Write short, succinct paragraphs that get straight to the point. Long paragraphs over 160 characters risk getting truncated in featured snippet text.
Check how your content appears in Google’s mobile search results. Optimizing for easy scanning on small screens can improve featured snippet potential.
Proper formatting and text structure signals your content can easily answer a query in a digestible snippet. Develop content specifically optimized for pull quotes, lists, tables, and other scannable elements Google can showcase.
- Include structured data like FAQs, tables, and videos where possible. Google ranks pages with schema markup higher.
Adding structured data markup to your pages is a great way to improve featured snippet potential. Structured data uses schema.org syntax to label content like FAQs, tables, videos, etc. This helps Google understand your content and display it prominently.
Consider adding FAQ markup for question-style content. The FAQ schema labels questions and answers clearly. It tells Google you are providing direct answers to common queries.
Use table schema for data comparisons and tables. The markup identifies column names, data types, and other attributes that help Google correctly parse and display tabular data.
Video schema can help feature relevant videos in video carousels and snippets. Marking up video name, description, duration etc improves visibility.
Review other types of schema appropriate for your content like how-to guides, recipes, products, and more. Adding complementary markup boosts featured snippet appeal.
There are plugins that can auto-generate schema markup. But carefully hand-coding markup usually performs better. The highest quality schema directly correlates with your content. Just don’t go overboard. Only use schema where truly relevant. Irrelevant markup can dilute your optimization signals. Focus on markup that strongly reinforces your content’s goals.
- Write concise paragraphs that create an informative preview text. Featured snippets only display 70-160 characters.
Google’s featured snippets algorithm looks for content that can be summarized into a tight preview text. Snippets are typically 70-160 characters long. This means your paragraphs need to be tight and succinct.
Aim to express ideas and answers in as few words as possible. Adhere to the inverted pyramid style – start paragraphs with the most important info. Avoid elaborate introductions and flowery language. Get right to the point using clear, direct language.
Limit each paragraph to one central idea or point. You want bite-sized chunks of text that can stand alone. Read paragraphs aloud to identify unnecessary words or convoluted phrasing. Simplify sentences for clarity and brevity.
Run paragraphs through a character counter tool to see if they fit within 160 characters. For example, the Hemingway App highlights lengthy, complex sentences.
Review the current snippet for your target keyword. Craft paragraphs modeled after the concise length and style. Adding headers and subheads also creates shorter paragraph blocks that provide focused answers.
Writing tight, scannable paragraphs signals your content can be easily condensed into informative snippet text. Master brevity and simplicity for better featured snippet opportunities.
- Update old content by adding new facts, data, examples, and infographics so it stays fresh
Google values fresh, up-to-date content when selecting pages to feature. It’s important to periodically refresh your previously published content with new facts, stats, and examples. Look for outdated information that needs to be updated with current data. For example, update stats, facts, trends with the latest figures.
Add new case studies, expert quotes, or current examples that make the content timely. Feature recent events or new products. Insert fresh infographics, charts, or images that visualize new data. Visual elements make content more snackable. Expand short posts with more in-depth information, research, and analysis. Turn brief snippets into comprehensive guides.
Repurpose and expand upon old blog posts by creating updated standalone pages with new advice. Produce new versions like “Updated for 2023” to signal the content is revised. Refreshing dates and titles indicates freshness.
Update any broken links, outdated author bios, and old references. Review overall quality. Freshening up existing assets helps Google recognize your dedication to providing current, reliable information worthy of featuring. Prioritize updating evergreen, informational content first.
Featured snippets represent an incredible opportunity to get your content in front of more searchers and boost organic traffic. But claiming these coveted spots takes strategic optimization tailored to how Google selects content to feature. Focus on thoroughly answering high-demand informational queries in your niche. Format content for easy skimming with tight paragraphs, structured data, and visual elements. Refresh old posts periodically to demonstrate relevance. With the right mix of compelling content and technical optimization, you can edge out competitors to earn more featured snippets and visibility.
Though it takes work, the payoff of substantially increased organic traffic and clicks is well worth the effort. With these tips, you can craft content that showcases your expertise while aligning with Google’s goal of providing visitors with the most helpful, concise answers. Optimizing for featured snippets will become a pillar of your overall SEO strategy.