There is no way to guarantee a Featured Snippet box listing in Google, but there are ways to increase your chances of having your content showcased in a featured listing box with some time, research and great – well formatted content.
We recently noticed a huge jump in page views on one of our blog posts and knew something was up. What is a website audit was written to help people understand why an overview of your onsite SEO is necessary if you are serious about your website. When we saw the increase in traffic to this page we began our investigation. Surprising to us – we found we landed a coveted Featured Snippet in the Google results. (we noticed on June 9th that we lost that spot – we are testing theories on why now, but we think we know and will report our findings!)
The image below shows what a Featured Snippet looks like. It offers an answer about a question that searchers may be asking – sometimes with an image and often with the title and URL. This will be located at the top of the search results, just below the ad section. And if you take a peak at the below – it will even outrank major players – like Search Engine Watch.
WHAT IS A FEATURED SNIPPET?
In simple terms a Featured Snippet is a result displayed by Google that answers a question. The answer is sourced from a site that Google deems worthy and offers value to the reader.
WHY WOULD I WANT A FEATURED SNIPPET?
1) Click Thru Rate (CTR) – the featured snippet brings a much higher click through rate than an average page 1 result brings – some have reported jumps of up to 20%.
2) Authority – when you land that featured spot, users will view your page as “important”. It is like being picked by the popular kid for gym – your popular status escalates.
3) Beat The Big Guys – when you land a featured snippet you can beat out the major competition in your niche, in our personal example we were jumping over pages like Hubspot and SearchEngineWatch.
HOW WILL I KNOW IF I HAVE A FEATURED SNIPPET?
There is no easy way to know if you are currently featured in a snippet so you will have to do some manual research. The best way to research is to use the Google Search Console, which hopefully you have integrated with your website!
1) Login to your Google Search Console
2) Go to SEARCH TRAFFIC > SEARCH ANALYTICS
3) Select “CLICKS” “CTR” and “POSITION” for filtering
4) For DATES we recommend you choose Last 90 days
5) Sort your report by position looking at the lower ranked items first. Typically pages that rank in spots 1-5 are at an increased chance of a snippet, so that is where you want to focus your efforts.
6) Look at the keywords in those 1-5 results that have higher CTR and click the little box and arrow next to the keyword to see how the live search results look
7) Review the page to see if you have a featured snippet and if in fact you do rank in those 1-5 results.
8) Rinse and Repeat the above for the keywords in those 1-5 spots!
NOTE: If you happen to use SEM Rush, there is a way to find featured snippets through there as well – but we won’t cover those steps here.
I REVIEWED MY SEARCH CONSOLE – NOW WHAT?
1) If you DO rank in position 1-5 and DO NOT have a featured snippet but another page does – review their page that has the snippet and see what you can do to improve your page to steal it from them.
2) If you DO NOT rank in the 1-5 results and do not have a snippet – move on to research better opportunities.
3) If you have a Featured Snippet – CONGRATULATIONS! But keep an eye on it – it can be gone in a flash!
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO GRAB A FEATURED SNIPPET BOX?
There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY to guarantee a featured snippet box. Google picks and chooses what will be in a featured box and there is no real way for a website owner to control it. But by optimizing your posts/pages the best way you can – you can increase your chances of landing a featured snippet.
The instructions below are a general guide to how you can leverage your data to try and capture a featured snippet:
1) RESEARCH: Utilize the research you did above to find pages that you may currently rank in spots 1-5 for, since that seems to be the pages that most commonly get a featured snippet box. If one page ranks for several keywords that is even better.
2) OPTIMIZE: Think about how you can re-optimize that page to answer a user question. (Below we review ways you can find what people are asking
3) ANSWER: Keep the “answer” to the question higher up in the post – it does not have to be first, but should be higher in the post. Google will pick and choose what they want to show either way – but they do usually consider higher content more important!
4) Q&A PAGE: Think about creating a page of Q&A related to your content – like this page! Use H2 tags for your questions and answer the question as simply as possible.
5) ORDERED LISTS: If you are creating recipes or instructional posts – use ordered lists to write your content so Google can easily understand it. (See image sample of an ordered list featured box we found using the search term “how to make dog cookies”.)
TERMS THAT OFTEN RETURN A FEATURED SNIPPET BOX!
You can increase your chances of getting a featured snippet box by including these terms in your posts/pages with your keywords. When doing your research for the questions you want to create a post around, you will want to use these terms in conjunction with your keywords.
sample keywords using popular terms – use these to see the featured snippet results:
“forming a hypothesis” “does a dog pant when in pain” “causes of cat seizures” “creating a site plan”
FACTORS THAT PAGES IN FEATURED SNIPPET BOXES HAVE!
In an interesting white paper done by STAT Search Analytics, there were some interesting takeaways on those pages that had featured snippet results.
1) Pages that had table tags show 22% more times than non snippet pages
2) Pages with ol (ordered list) tags had 42% more featured snippets than pages without the tag
3) Featured snippet pages were 19% faster in response times
4) The exact match keyword in the title appeared 10% more often and 21% more often if in h1 and h2 tags
5) Slightly higher back link metrics were shown for those in featured snippets
You can view the additional results in the white paper if you want to download it!
WHY HOW DO I FIND QUESTIONS TO ANSWER?
Here are just a few ways we search for question ideas:
1) Answer The Public – one of our favorites and easy to use. Simply enter a “broad” term – choose your country and watch it display lists and visualizations of questions asked about that term.
2) Quora – a great source for finding what people are asking in your industry. Just use the search for keywords in your niche and explore away – be sure to keep an eye on the auto-complete in the search box too!
3) Google – every time you search you will see a dropdown with suggested related terms, this is a great source for new ideas. Make sure you keep an eye on the bottom of the page for “related searches” and info boxes that show “people also ask”
4) Reddit – explore communities in your niche to see what people are talking about.
BUT WHY WILL THEY CLICK ON MY WEBSITE IF THE CONTENT IS RIGHT THERE FOR THEM?
There was a great analysis done by SearchEngine Land of what SEO’s thought about these snippets. Some of the comments were very interesting!
Personally we do not have any issues at all about snippets. The way we look at is if they are getting our content in a search and it is answering their question and they move on without clicking, that is OK. In this case they would not be a converting client and is probably not someone who wants any more information.
If they do click through – great, that is someone who cares a little more about our content and could potentially be a client or at least a reader.
For us, we like the authority rich snippets brings. When you see a rich snippet – it makes you more confident in the website.
We are going to be running a few tests and will do an update on our results!
What do you think? Have you found yourself with a featured snippet? Is this something you are going to try to work into your SEO strategy?
UPDATE July 15, 2016 – We have been carefully monitoring our Featured Snippet box and what we are seeing is that Google does seem to rotate out who is being shown in the featured snippet. Checking daily we see our page rotating out with 2 other pages. We will continue to monitor this an see if we can make our featured snippet “stick”.