The world of SEO is full of interesting trends and opportunities to apply to your website. If you’ve been looking for different strategies to increase your traffic and content’s clickthrough rate, chances are you’ve heard of featured snippets.
Google–being the dominant search engine–is always looking for ways to make its search engine results pages (SERPs) more informative and user-friendly. One of the features it’s offered since 2013 is featured snippets, which can noticeably improve a website’s trustworthiness.
The more snippets your content appears in, the more traffic and clicks you’re likely to get. Snippet-friendly content means your site is Google-friendly, which is one of the key factors to be successful with SEO.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s look at what featured snippets are. Keep reading this blog post to discover the four types of snippets and four ways to increase your snippet ranking likelihood.
What Is a Featured Snippet?
A featured snippet is an excerpt of a web page, video, blog post, or other piece of content that appears at the top of a Google SERP. It’s designed to give Google users fast and easy answers to simple searches.
Featured snippets vary widely based on a user’s query, and may be a bulleted list, segment of a video, or a two to three sentence paragraph. In the case of paragraph snippets, the sentence on the ranking webpage most relevant to the user’s query is bolded. The visual contrast makes it easier to find information at a glance.
Though millions of search queries produce featured snippets, millions of others do not. That’s because some search terms are more complex than others and Google can’t easily point to an objective answer.
For example, the search term “When did Michael Jackson die?” is a perfect example of a query with a featured snippet. In fact, it’s such a simple query that the answer shows up before users finish typing the question.
On the other hand, a query like “What were the underground punk bands of Britain in the early 80s?” is far more specific. Searching for this info in Google will produce several relevant results, but (currently) no featured snippet at the top.
Since music history is a popular search topic, that inquiry will produce People Also Ask (PAA) blocks, but these are different from featured snippets. A snippet always shows up at the top of a SERP, whereas PAAs typically appear after the first one or two organic results.
Why Are Featured Snippets Important to Rank For?
Given how often featured snippets show up, you’re likely wondering why they’re so important. Featured snippets are helpful to rank for because of four reasons:
- They strengthen readers’ perception of your site authority
- They can improve your click rate by (sometimes as much as 10 to 23%)
- They increase the likelihood of serious prospects visiting your site
- They indicate your content is trustworthy, organized, and complete
Let’s examine why each reason is so important:
Improved Reader Trust
The biggest benefit of more featured snippets is that it strengthens readers’ trust in your content. Snippets are referred to as “position zero” but when a snippet’s information prompts curiosity, its link gets a lot of clicks.
About 90% of all organic clicks go to the first three results because users know the top websites on Google are there for a reason. The more content you have ranking for snippets, the more users you’re likely to convert.
Higher Clickthrough Rate
The next reason to achieve featured snippet rankings is because they increase your clickthrough rate. When your content is informative or valuable enough to prompt more clicks, users will want to see the entire page.
The more clicks Google sees going from the SERPs to your website, the more authoritative it deems your site. That’s definitely one fact you need to know about E-A-T for SEO. Higher click volume results in Google giving your site’s popular pages higher rankings.
More Targeted Visitors
One of the drawbacks of featured snippets is that if your snippet answers the question a user had, they won’t click your link. High rankings don’t do much good if they don’t produce traffic and eventually leads.
On the flipside, if you’re ranking for snippets with fairly complex answers, users are more likely to visit your website. Converting users from casual browsers to interested prospects means your featured snippets are channeling relevant leads into your funnel.
Proof of Comprehensive, Trustworthy Content
Another reason to rank for featured snippets is because it proves your content is complete. When you write about a topic, you don’t simply want to answer one question about it. You want to give readers and Google a comprehensive solution for that particular question.
By organizing your subheaders, paragraphs, and information to be easily digestible, it’s exponentially more likely Google awards you the featured snippet. Content that can be understood at a glance encourages users to interact with more content on your site, and that leads to higher rankings too.
4 Types of Featured Snippets
Now that you’re familiar with what snippets are and why you should include them in your SEO strategy, it’s good to know the four types of featured snippets. The type of snippet you aim to rank for depends on your business and the primary types of content you make.
The four types of featured snippets are paragraphs, lists, videos, and tables. Below are details and one or two cases for each:
A paragraph featured snippet is exactly as it sounds: usually two to four sentences that offer a direct and clear answer to the user’s query. The most relevant sentence is usually bolded in the snippet and makes it easy to glean information.
Paragraph featured snippets often show up for historical, relational, and commercial questions. They’re also one of the most common snippet types overall, as many questions can be answered from the billions of paragraphs already online.
The list featured snippet is a bulleted or numbered list of steps in a process. This snippet type shows up when users want an overview of how-to tasks or information.
Topics include how to fix an appliance, how to implement a digital marketing strategy, or ingredients in a recipe. A snippet list may also include bands of a genre, events in a historical time period, or gift ideas for an occasion.
Video featured snippets are segments of videos that are relevant to a user’s query. They appear when a specific part of a video directly answers someone’s question, and are usually YouTube videos.
A video snippet may show how to fix a tire, the best way to powerwash your driveway, or questions with other visually-based answers. Sometimes it’s easier to see something than read an article about it, which is why video featured snippets are on the rise.
Tables are the fourth type of featured snippet and contain information in a table. The type of table displayed depends on what the user searched for.
Table snippets appear when users look for information like data, company earnings, and celebrity net worths. They are helpful for quickly assessing large amounts of information or making comparisons between different business and cultural entities.
How Do You Rank for More Featured Snippets?
Knowing what kind of snippets are out there, you’re likely thinking about how you can rank for more of them. There are four main strategies to rank for more featured snippets. Let’s look at them here:
Test Your Keywords in the SERPs for Snippets
The simplest way to rank for more snippets is to see if your keyword targets produce snippets. Before writing any new content, test your keywords in the SERPs. Do you see a lot of relevant content coming up? Are you finding competitors’ snippets that you want to steal from them?
That’s a sign the keywords you’re targeting are relevant, good or high volume, and conversion-focused. It will also show you if your competitors are investing in SEO or if you’re beating them to the punch.
Write Fact-Based Content
The next strategy to use is keeping your content as fact-based as possible. Google awards featured snippets to content based on how accurately and briefly it answers a question.
If your sentences never get to the point, Google can’t trust your website as a source of reliable information. Review your current and past content for any paragraphs or subsections that can be made more precise.
Use Subheadings Efficiently
Another method for maximizing your snippets is structuring your on-page subheadings properly. When Googlebot is scanning a webpage, it’s looking not just for relevant content, but how relevant paragraphs are to each other.
When you write a blog post, every section and paragraph should logically follow the previous one. For example, writing about shipping products should contain more than “How to Ship eCommerce Packages” and “Getting Shipping Boxes for Cheap.”
Your content should answer every question related to your H1. That includes getting cheap shipping boxes, but also shipping rates, packaging materials, whether to offer free shipping, and outsourcing. Each subtopic becomes its own section and increases the likelihood you’ll rank for a featured snippet.
Using headings properly is also part of our on-page SEO audit checklist. Organizing your content for maximum scannability and crawlability boosts your SEO performance both short- and long-term.
Include Structured Data
Additionally, including structured data is helpful for snippet rankings. This falls on the technical side of SEO but is just as important as any content you publish.
Structured data is code on web pages that helps Google understand the intent of your content and how the information on your pages relate to one another. In other words, properly completed structured data shows Google your page title, header image, page type, description, and rating.
Page type is one of the most important elements of structured data, as it shows Google what to look for when crawling your site. If you run a food and recipe business, you want to appear among relevant content–not plumbing services or electrical technicians. You also want your recipes to stand out and not be shuffled in among non-recipe blog posts about the same meal.
The Bottom Line
Featured snippets can be a powerful addition to your SEO strategy when you know how to obtain them. By making a few on-page and technical SEO tweaks, it’s possible to have your content well ahead of the rest.
Here’s a summary of what we covered:
- A featured snippet is a brief excerpt of content designed to accurately answer users’ simple Google search queries.
- It’s important to rank for featured snippets because they impact your SERP visibility. The more featured snippets you’re ranking for, the higher your traffic and leads are likely to be over time.
- There are four key benefits to ranking for featured snippets. Those benefits are improved levels of trust in your business, higher clickthrough rates to your website, more targeted leads for those who do visit your site, and proof that your content is organized.
- There are also four types of featured snippets. Those are links, paragraphs, videos, and tables.
- Ranking for more featured snippets comes down to four actions. Those actions are 1) checking your keyword targets for snippet-friendliness, 2) writing fact-based content, 3) using structured data, and 4) organizing your on-page content efficiently.