Have you ever Googled a question and gotten a snippet from an article at the very top of the page, giving you the answer you need?
If you have, then you’ve seen a featured snippet. And they are pure gold for the sites that win them.
Studies show that on the first search results page, the top five results account for over 67% of all clicks.
Now imagine being “#0” and multiply that influence enormously when Google features your information in a giant box and large type.
I thought so. Here’s how to get in on featured snippets to boost authority and increase traffic to your site.
Be on Page One
Research done on snippets shows that all sites that win the coveted “#0” position already rank on page one. Google considers page one to contain well-vetted, high-authority sites and as a result draws its answers from it.
Interestingly, you don’t need to be #1 to get a snippet – in fact, #6 can get a snippet just as much as #1. Once you’re on the first page, it’s about the rest of the process – having the right kind of answer to the right kind of question.
Snippets are displayed in answer to questions, so the first step in creating content that will be featured by Google is to find question phrases to address.
Questions most likely to have a snippet include the following terms: “how to”, “what is”, “how do”, or “how does”.
Brainstorm a list of common, simple questions related to your area of expertise. You can use a keyword tool if you’d like and look for the question phrases mentioned above.
Quora is another good resource for finding questions. Search for your industry or your specific expertise and see what people are asking.
Don’t forget to use local online marketing too – answering questions using the term “Where can I… in (city)” is a big opportunity.
Choose Which Questions to Target
Before you write a lot of content, it’s important to make sure that you are choosing the very best questions from your list of ideas.
The best way to choose questions to target is to research which questions get the highest volume of searches. Using the Google search tool can help you determine if searchers normally phrase the question in a different way, as well.
Once you determine high search volume, look at the amount of competition. It goes without saying that it’s easier to grab a featured snippet on a search term with a lower level of competition.
Write a Great Answer
Featured snippets are chosen for two reasons: they closely match the query, and they are well organized.
Match the Query
Google chooses featured snippets using an algorithm, so it’s important that you have the actual question as a header on your site. It can be an h2, h3, h4, etc.
By matching the question exactly you signal to Google that you’re a good resource for that question, and the algorithm will know to consider your page as a possible snippet.
Sometimes you can win a featured snippet for a phrase with an implied question, such as a search for “SEO” that might return a snippet answering the question “What is SEO?”
But your page still needs to contain the “What is SEO” phrase to be considered.
Organize the Answer Well
The answer should begin in a paragraph directly below the header containing the question. It should be straightforward and very easy to read.
Start your answer with a logical phrase, like “To begin…” or “First, …” This will help Google recognize the answer and make it more likely to get chosen.
Consider organizing your answer as a step-by-step list. You can use numbering or phrases like “Step 1”.
In either case, your snippet will be attractive and easy-to-read, which will encourage readers to click through for more.
Maintain Your Snippet Position
Like everything else about SEO and search engine rankings, snippets are a competitive and ever-changing landscape. Getting a snippet is excellent, but maintaining it is vital as well.
The secret to maintaining your snippet position is part tracking, of course – you want to succeed in any element of marketing or customer acquisition, you have to track and manage your results.
The best way to maintain your position in the Google snippet is also the simplest. Be a better answer to the question than everyone else.
Also, encourage click-throughs by having a long enough answer that the featured snippet will not contain all of the information the reader wants. When you have click-throughs, you encourage Google to see your answer as authoritative.
Don’t be afraid of losing the featured snippet you win – you can always win it back. Look at the new snippet and see what makes it different than yours.
Is it the formatting? Do you have a paragraph and they have a list? Is their answer clearer, simpler, or more authoritative?
Whatever you find, take it into account and then use it to improve not only you answer to that question, but all the other questions you’re trying to win snippets for.
You never stop competing for snippets, just like you never stop competing for search rankings.
You don’t win once and then you’re good to go. Keep getting better!
A Quick Example
In the spirit of this article, here’s a simple answer to our question.
How to Get a Featured Snippet
- Rank on Page One. The answers for Google’s snippets are drawn from the Page One results.
- Find a Question to Answer. Using search volumes and common questions, discover a question to focus on and create content for it.
- Create a Great Answer. Include the actual question as a header on your site. Start the answer on the next line. Use a list or a clear paragraph to answer.
- Maintain Your Snippet. Snippets are a constant competition. Be the very best answer to the question, and learn from competitors if they take your spot. Get better and get it back!
Ready to Learn More?
If you’re ready to learn more about featured snippets, or you need help reaching page one for key questions in your niche, we’re here to help. Contact us for a free consultation today!