Featured snippets are a growing area of focus in SEO. It is no wonder when they have the ability to bring in a large quantity of traffic to your website by getting your site ranking in the prestigious "position zero" above all other results on the SERP. But in order to be awarded with a featured snippet, you must show Google that you are answering the searcher's query to a high standard, thus satisfying the user’s search intent.
At Reboot, we are self-professed Featured Snippet Champions. The Content Marketing team work hard to ensure their content is perfectly optimised to earn a featured snippet for our clients. For one client, we successfully achieved 9 featured snippets and 63 SERP features (including image packs and site links) in just a couple of months.
Read on to hear about our top tips and tricks for getting your content rewarded with a featured snippet.
Table of Contents:
- What is a featured snippet?
- How to get a featured snippet
- How to optimise for featured snippets
- How to steal a featured snippet
A featured snippet – also known as an “answer box” or “position zero” – is a box found at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) containing a summary of an answer.
This answer is extracted from a webpage – usually just a few sentences long – alongside the page's link, the page title and page URL.
Featured snippets can appear in the following ways:
- A paragraph-formatted answer to satisfy the searcher’s query
- A bullet point or numbered list that answers the searcher’s query (either step-by-step or a list)
- A table of information
- A video
It looks something like this on the search results:
More often than not, being awarded with a featured snippet is often seen as a fantastic achievement. It increases visibility of your website, resulting in another benefit: higher organic click-through rates. According to a HubSpot report, content that appears as a featured snippet can get 2x higher click-through rates than content not in the so-called “position zero”.
However, recently there has been some controversy surrounding featured snippets and whether they are good or bad. We delved deeper into the pros and cons of featured snippets here.
Typically, featured snippets are only awarded to posts in the top 10 search results (on the first page of the SERP). If you are ranking below this position, it is unlikely that you will be awarded a snippet.
Despite this, it's not impossible and depends entirely on the keyword you are targeting and how competitive the keyword is - you can find this out by conducting thorough keyword research beforehand.
There is no way to “opt in” for a featured snippet to make your website more likely to get one – it is down to Google and the content you produce. The search engine carefully determines which page on the SERP contains the best answer to the user's question and displays the result as a featured snippet.
If your content doesn’t clearly and concisely answer the question, you will not be awarded with a featured snippet.
1. Target informational keywords
One way to increase your chances of getting a featured snippet is to create content focusing on informational keywords, which are typically question-based and include words like who, what, where, when, why and how.
In particular, keywords containing words like "how" and "what" have higher chances of winning a featured snippet than other keywords.
2. Keep the answer short and sweet
Despite the fact there is some confusion about word count in SEO, when answering a direct question which you hope to be featured in a snippet, it is advisable to write in short sentences and paragraphs.
In fact, an SEMrush study shows that most featured snippet results contain answers between 40 to 50 words long:
3. Choose your words wisely
Research by Ahrefs found that these are the most frequently used words that appear in featured snippets, thus meaning that you should include them within your answers where possible (always ensure it is natural and makes sense, of course!):
4. Structure your content carefully
Think carefully about your content structure when trying to optimise your posts for featured snippets. For instance, you may want to add a “FAQ” section to your site, to maximise the use of question keywords, or even include a how-to section on your website.
As mentioned above, consider structuring your content into short paragraphs with questions as subheadings.
You may even want to think about certain content styles that Google tends to prefer:
✔ Bullet points
✔ Numbered lists
It is a good idea to repurpose old content to increase ranking potential and even steal featured snippets from competitors.
In August 2019, Google announced an update to its ‘featured snippets’ algorithm. The reason behind this was to make featured snippets more useful to users by understanding which information needs fresh content, in order to remove snippets with ‘out-of-date’ information that are no longer useful.
According to Google, these kind of search queries need fresh content:
1. Information that is regularly updated
2. Information that changes with passing time
3. Current events
Therefore, when looking to steal feature snippets from competitors, search for content which falls into one of these three categories. When revisiting your posts, ensure your content is as evergreen as possible – and don’t forget to frequently make amendments to the content where needed to maximise chances of winning a featured snippet.
Our tried-and-tested tips to steal featured snippets from competitors using Ahrefs:
1. Find all the keywords your blog is ranking for in the top 10 on the SERP.
To do this, go to Site Explorer and filter organic keywords that trigger featured snippets where your website is ranking in positions 2–10.
2. Attempt to steal a featured snippet if you are ranking between position 2 and 10 for the keyword and it is relevant to your blog post.
Be sure to manually check the search query on Google to see if you can easily steal the snippet from your competitor by just making a few tweaks to the page.
3. Once you've decided on a key term to target, carefully analyse your competitor's post.
Ask yourself the following questions:
💡 Look at your competitors title – is it numbered, short, long? Can you make yours similar / better?
💡 Where is the answer used in the featured snippet placed within the article? If it is near the top, you may want to move the answer up in your own blog post too.
💡 Is it a listicle or an informative guide?
💡 Can you insert a table?
💡 Analyse the number of words used in your answer (40 to 50 words is advisable).
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