The world of SEO (Search engine optimization) is getting more and more competitive each day. Business owners, bloggers, restaurants and others are looking for ways to shine among their competitors. The ultimate goal is to rank higher in search results! There are many factors that affect your ranking, and featured snippets are definitely an important one. However, using featured snippets does not automatically mean your page will rank on the top. Just like anything else, there are guidelines and rules to follow when it comes to implementing featured snippets. In this article, we will cover what featured snippets are, what types of featured snippets are out there, why they are so important and how you can optimize them in order to boost your SEO.
What Are Featured Snippets?
Featured snippets are pieces of information that come in a variety of types and appear before search results. The main idea of these snippets is to understand what users are searching for and provide the most accurate and relevant information. First, Google diagnoses what the search term is. Then, it shows these featured snippets as quick summarized responses that the search is related to. Google does not always create its own featured snippets. Instead, it pulls relevant data directly from the web page that it indexes and displays them on the search result page. The position of these snippets is strategically placed by Google and is called “position zero”. Since they appear before the actual search results, they give the featured website an upper hand in terms of visibility and accessibility.
As already mentioned, featured snippets come in different forms. Web developers get to decide what types of snippets they prefer to use in order to appeal to their users and potential customers. There are several different types of featured snippets you can choose from. Let’s take a look at what featured snippets are out there!
Paragraphs, also known as definition snippets, are mostly used for answering common questions like why, how to, what is, etc. Users are looking for a clear explanation of their search content through a simple, direct and relevant definition. The most useful way to use this snippet is to add additional information that may attract the users and encourage them to click on your page. While it is optional, using a small picture with your description may also be quite helpful when it comes to appealing to the users.
List featured snippets can be used for providing step-by-step information and putting things in order in terms of their release date, qualities, price and so on. They are usually displayed with numbers and are commonly used for recipes, how-to tasks or rankings.
Tables have become one of the most popular featured snippets since their first release during the mid 2010s. After its first announcement in 2015, Google initiated this featured snippet and ] showed off its skills in providing an efficient and user-friendly search engine experience.
With this snippet, Google is able to extract information from multiple websites and feature them as tables to compare statistics and show them as sortable lists. Google displays these snippets using its own algorithm and design. However, this does not mean you are unable to create your own tables and implement them as featured snippets. While creating your own table, it is important to assess the amount of information you have and want to display. Your table does not have to be a single column, so don’t feel limited, but it also does not need to be a mountain of information. Keep things simple and easy to read. It is important not to overwhelm users with complicated data.
If a search term needs some visuals, video featured snippets are the way to go! Granted, Google mainly picks its video snippets from YouTube as YouTube is the biggest video domain in the world. Videos are capable of answering user questions in a more direct and enjoyable way, which is why they have become one of the most increasingly popular featured snippets in the past few years.
Keep in mind that YouTube is a big opportunity in terms of marketing. It brings visibility to organic search results while creating exposure to your content. Do not be afraid to get creative, but make sure you stay relevant to your message. It is also essential to use relevant keywords on your video titles, voice-overs and transcripts in order for Google to display them as featured snippets.
Search engine users may not always have a clear idea of what they are looking for. That’s where the carousel featured snippets become handy. If a search term is too vague, Google suggests related keywords in order to specify the search content. These keywords appear inside of little boxes on top of the search result page and once clicked, they direct you to the relevant result page.
Even if your webpage does not have the highest ranking, no need to worry! Google chooses the content of these little boxes from a variety of web pages without a clear order, which gives any web page the possibility of being clicked by a random user. However, to ensure that you end up in these search results, you need your content to be elaborate. Make sure you cover everything from top to bottom so that Google directs its users to your page for further detailed information.
Why Are Featured Snippets So Important?
From the user perspective, featured snippets are not only time saving but also helpful in finding relevant information without any extra effort. In some cases, users do not even have to click through additional links to access the necessary information. It is right there, in front of them. However, if they decide to, it is a well known fact that users tend to click on the first few results that they come across on the results page.
The entire concept of SEO revolves around achieving a higher page rank. That being said, featured snippets offer something special that most other SEO tools don’t. They help your page steal clicks from top results! If implemented well, these snippets will help your website catch the attention of the users eventually. With these tools, your website can gain more organic traffic, allowing Google to notice your page.
It is important for Google to understand that people are visiting your page and familiarizing themselves with your business or brand. Being a Google favorite increases your position relative to competitors and gives you an edge when it comes to appealing to your visitors and potential customers.
According to a study conducted by Engine Scout in April, 2022, featured snippets received 35.1% of the total click share on Google. Some users ignored these snippets thinking they were ads, but users who decided to click on the featured snippets took their convenience into consideration. Users obviously think these snippets are informative which makes this percentage difficult to ignore.
Another benefit of featured snippets is that most virtual assistants such as Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant use them when responding to their users’ voice activated search inquiries. More and more people are using this type of search each year, which makes featured snippets increasingly relevant in terms of keeping up with the most recent technology.
One thing to remember is that once your page is listed as a featured snippet on the search results page, you lose the opportunity to be listed on the regular search results. This was not always the case, but after an update announced in 2020, Google decided that it is no longer necessary to repeat the same page on the regular search results once the web page is listed as a featured snippet. During its first implementation, that caused some traffic loss, so Google gave the option to opt out of featured snippets. However, that is not recommended by SEO experts. Featured snippets are still relevant in terms of CTR (click through rate) and still an important part of overall SEO.
How to Optimize Your Featured Snippets
Now that you know what featured snippets are and how they function, you need to make sure that you are optimizing them for your SEO needs. While this is not an easy task, it is fundamental to understand the key points.
Do a thorough keyword search before implementing your featured snippets. There are many keyword search tools (paid or free) online that generate what most users type in when they are conducting their searches. Depending on the content, you need to familiarize yourself with these keywords in order to draw attention to your featured snippets. Understanding the user's intent for searching the term is also beneficial when it comes to creating your content.
Use Google as a Guide
Google search results give you clues in regards to what users are searching for. PAA (People also ask) boxes are especially useful when it comes to understanding user habits. Make sure you include answers to these questions while creating your snippets.
Your content’s format needs to be suitable for featured snippets. As there are several different types of featured snippets, make sure that your content fits the snippets you are planning to use. For example, if you are going for “the list”, do not forget to use numbers that would help your featured snippets to show up in order on the search result page. Same goes for “paragraphs” and “tables”. The word count matters when it comes to descriptions. For “paragraph” featured snippets, it is recommended to use between 40-50 words maximum. Keep it brief while encapsulating your description and avoid using complex sentences. Breaking down your content is always a good idea. Providing a straightforward answer to a question and then supporting that information with related details would be the most effective structure.
Speaking of which, Google’s crawlers prefer neatly structured pages, so it is best to use proper headings, subheadings and bullet points while creating your snippet friendly content. Use proper HTML tags for Google to crawl your web page. For instance, use <H1> for your headings and <H2> for your subheadings.
This also helps your page from the user's point of view. Users tend to look for titles and certain phrases when they are looking for specific information. A well-structured web page is certainly easier to follow, efficient and much more enjoyable!
Use Optimization Tools
A simple Google search would give you a lot of good options for third-party featured snippet optimization tools. These tools have multiple benefits from keyword optimization to formatting and analyzing your competition. The Internet is a massive place with millions of keywords. When it comes to optimizing these keywords, these tools would help you break them down and filter them by their location, industry, search volume, etc., thus giving you a better idea how to use them more effectively.
Another advantage of using these tools is having a better understanding of your competition. While monitoring your rankings compared to others, you are also able to analyze how your competitors react to certain changes which allows you to upgrade your SEO game accordingly. This also helps you prioritize your needs and aim for more tangible results.
One last thing to remember is that, while optimizing your featured snippets, you need to take your location into consideration. Keywords, user habits, and other factors tend to change in different parts of the world. Also, the concept of SEO is highly dynamic, which makes it important to keep up with the latest trends and updates.
Unfortunately, Google does not guarantee your web page to be listed with featured snippets since its algorithm constantly changes. Your “list” featured snippet may be replaced by another “video” snippet in the blink of an eye. So, do not be afraid to discover different tools and techniques to create your own content with featured snippets in mind. Make sure you monitor the outcome and get ready to update things on a regular basis.