You may be wondering what those little boxes with information or videos are called at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) and how you can get your website to feature there.
Some of you have been writing perfectly valuable and informative content that interests and delights your audience, but your content is not in Google Featured Snippets. If you are one of those people who has an active blog rating in the first 10 places on Google Search Engine, this post is for you.
If you are not ranking in the first 10 places, then you will find lots of valuable information on how to boost your ranking.
In this post, we will discuss snippets, the main types of snippets that we see, how to optimize your website and content to appear at the top of the search results, and the criteria that Google search engine is looking for.
What’s a “snippet”?
The snippet is a single search result in a set of search results and generally consists of a title, a URL and a description of the page. The content of a snippet matches parts of the search query and you’ll see your keyword highlighted in the snippet description. Search engines often use pieces of your content to fill in the parts that make up the snippet. (Yoast )
The Google bot scans the websites and uses the data to formulate an index of information in the search engine. If your site is structured in a manner that the bot can easily process, there is a better chance of your website or social media properties being featured in the search results.
What’s a “featured snippet”?
A featured snippet works by pulling a short answer ranking 0 in the search results, directly into the SERPs, thus eliminating the need for the user to click on an organic search result. Featured snippets are a type of “answer box” or “rich answer. Since they are located on the most valuable piece of digital real estate – the top of the SERPs, they receive far more clicks and impressions.
“We display featured snippets when our systems determine this format will help people more easily discover what they’re seeking, both from the description about the page and when they click on the link to read the page itself. They’re especially helpful for those on mobile or searching by voice.” – Google
This is what a featured snippet looks like:
The Google Featured snippet guide will provide you with detailed information regarding when the featured snippets are activated.
Note: Your content has to be ranked within the top 10 on Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
Why Featured Snippets?
More traffic, better brand awareness and more conversions…
Getting a featured snippet could get more people to land on your landing page and improve the sales of your products or visibility of your site. If you are not looking to improve your Click Through Rate (CTR) then consider whether it is worth investing the time in optimizing your page for a featured snippet.
The importance Voice Search Engine Optimization has been discussed previously on this blog. With the increasing number of voice queries the importance of the featured snippet rises, since the voice query responses are pulled from the featured snippets. DBS Interactive claims that 1/3 of all queries will be Voice Search by 2020. Other studies claim that 50% of queries will be Voice Search.
Types of featured snippets
Here are the most common types.
- Suggested Video
- Numbered List
- Bulleted List
Paragraph Featured Snippets
This snippet includes an answer given in the text. It can be a box with text inside or a box with both text and image inside. Often, they’re displayed alongside an image chosen from another source. Typically they answer the following types of questions:
- How To …
- Who is….
- What is…
- Why is…
Table Featured Snippet
These tend to answer questions on pricing, rates, and data that are displayed to the searcher in a table format.
If you have a page where the data needs to be presented in a table format, the search engines will display the content if it is coded as a table in html markup. You can also mark it with the dataset schema markup.
Video Clips Snippets
Search engines can also answer specific questions using text from video descriptions and offers them as a response when the query is asking for an instructional tutorial or when the user might benefit from video content. Video results are also a form of featured snippet.
Justin from Briggsby offers a great guide on how to get your YouTube video to appear on featured snippets.
Numbered List Featured Snippet
It is a response to a How do I… type of query and the response is formatted in an HTML numbered list.
Essentially it is the same as the numbered list, but the order of the list is less important.
There are additional types of featured snippets that are less prominent.
How do you get started?
Google offers a rather cryptic guide to featured snippets since it merely informs the reader how to opt-out of having the content used for featured snippets.
If you are eager to learn how to optimize your post aiming to get a featured snippet, here are some tips:
How to get a featured snippet
Google and Bing search engines have different criteria, so content that appears on Google does not always appear on Bing. Google results tend to be more impartial.
1. Rank in the Top Page of Google
You must rank in the first top 10 pages on Google to get your featured snippet. This can be a challenge and involves some effort, like
- Follow good SEO practices
- The page should be mobile friendly
- Include good keywords,
- Inbound links from authoritative sources,
- Internal linking,
- Have an error free website,
- Load quickly,
- Use SSL, and
- Be built for humans, not only for robots or machines.
Here are some tools that can help you test your site:
- Google’s Mobile-Friendly test
- Chrome’s Lighthouse SEO audit tool
- Page speed test
- Ask me for an SEO audit
2. Do keyword research and aim to respond to search intent
Your content must be perfect. Use E-A-T (Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness) Principles to perfect your post. It should include factual data written for humans, that is supported by other resources. Do not stuff your posts with the keywords. Carry out Problem and Solution Search, not just keywords (Izzi Smith– Sixt Case Study). Make sure to answer all the questions that your target audience ask. Leave the user thirsting for more information so that s/he will click through.
Google uses a strategy called the Intent Matching Engine to discover whether users are finding what they are searching for.
Check the Search engine results pages to see how the SERP is formatted. In order to rank, you must offer the Best Answer. Check out the “People also ask” section. A lot of times you’ll find this section beneath a featured snippet to see what the intent is. This is a good resource for you to find out what users may be asking that you can answer.
Additional research tools to help you:
Check Competitor Sites to see what they are ranking for. Perhaps you can discover another spin on your topic.
Simply ask your audience what they prefer to receive from you.
3. Create correctly formatted text at the top of the post for the featured snippet.
The text should emulate what an abstract does for a scientific paper. That text should contain a clear answer to a question in 40-60 words. SEMrush analyzed nearly 7 million Featured Snippets. And they found that the most Featured Snippets are 40-60 words long
4. Markup your content correctly
Markup your content correctly with HTML markup so that the bots can understand what you have. Correctly mark headers, lists, bullet points and include a description of your images. Also use dataset schema markup. And Schema.org markup so that the robots can understand what you are presenting.
5. Pick good original images
Generally speaking, use high quality images that have been compressed for viewing on a web page, be appropriate for the topic discussed, and be of a 4:3 aspect ratio. Remember to fill out the title and Alt Text when you load the image. This is the data that the bots use to know what your image portrays. Here is Google’s guide.
Here’s more about image optimization.
6. Include a Q& A section on your website
Research related keywords and include those questions in a section on your site dedicated to the topic.
What are the search engines like Google looking for in the Snippet?
They want a specific response to the users question so that in many cases, he would not need to click in order to find the answer.
In order to rate, the content must “Fully Meet” the criteria:
The user is clearly looking for a specific webpage or website and the result block with the specific webpage or website Fully Meets the user’s need.
The user is trying to complete a device action and the result block accomplishes the desired request.
The user is looking for a very specific fact or piece of information and the result block provides the information immediately, thoroughly, accurately, and clearly. No other results would be needed.
Before using the Fully Meets rating for queries seeking a very specific fact or piece of information, you must check for accuracy and confirm that the information is supported by expert consensus where such consensus exists. – Raterhub
How long will you keep the Featured Snippet?
It seems that the ranking is pretty unpredictable. Also you cannot track it from Google Search Console. You will need an SEO tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush to be set up to track that.
Google has indicated that Featured Snippets will be around in the near future and Bing is also testing this feature.
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