Optimizing Content For Featured Snippets
Apr 11, 2022
Written by Casey Bjorkdahl
Casey Bjorkdahl is one of the pioneering thought leaders in the SEO community. In 2010, Casey co-founded Vazoola after working for a Digital Marketing Agency for five years in New York City. Vazoola is now one of the fastest growing and most widely recognized SEO marketing firms in the country.
One of the most significant battles that marketers face is attracting web traffic to their brand, especially for smaller companies. Things like on page SEO and link building are some of the ways marketers work to reach their goals. Without the right strategy though, it’s difficult to get your content to the top of search engine result pages (SERPs). One of the best ways to get noticed by your target audience is to have your content appear as a featured snippet in web engines through featured snippet optimization.
What is a Featured Snippet?
"What are featured snippets?" many ask. Featured snippets are sections of text pulled from content and highlighted at the top of a SERP. They’re typically provided as an answer to relevant queries entered by users. Featured snippets typically appear in response to informational search queries. For example, if a user enters a phrase like “how to change a tire,” Google provides a paragraph from a webpage that quickly answers the question. Here is a featured snippet example live:
In addition to text, the featured snippet may also include a video or image. They contain any relevant website content that matches a user’s search intent. The page title and URL of a website are additional information pulled into a featured snippet.
Many people confuse a Google search snippet with an answerbox, and may wonder how to get a featured snippet. The biggest difference between a Google snippet and an Answer Box is that Answer Boxes appear in response to keywords. In addition, you won’t find direct links to a website within an answer box. The information displayed gets generated based on Google data pulled from a knowledge graph.
Featured Snippets Volatility
Some have noted that content that appears as a featured snippet may suddenly disappear. Google and other search engines often update the factors capable of triggering featured snippets. They’re typically organic changes designed to fine-tune the functionality of the search engine. Some reasons why you might see volatility in featured snippets include:
- Trying to prevent manipulative tactics
- Adjusting to shifts in user behavior
- Improving the responses provided to users
- Ensuring that users receive useful content
- Responding to changes in a user’s search intent for certain keywords
Types of Featured Snippets
Below are explanations of the different types of featured snippets often displayed within SERPs. Understanding the format of each helps you understand better how to organize content to increase the chance of it becoming part of a featured snippet.
The paragraph featured snipped offer a brief definition or piece of info about a specific topic. Most paragraph responses appear in relation to informational or straightforward queries.
Tables provide a visualization of information back to users for comparison. For example, you might receive a table featured snippet in response to a query like, “how much did top music artists earn in 2022.” The table would provide rows of information outlining the revenue earned for the relevant year.
List featured snippets are a way of ranking pieces of information, helping you see different available products, or outlining the individual steps in a process. The list can be in an ordered or unordered fashion. You’re more likely to see lists appear as featured snippets for items like “best of” lists or ranking different products.
Many people flock to YouTube to search for entertainment or informational content. As a result, you’ll often see videos included in Google featured snippets if they offer the best response to a user’s query. For example, you might see a how-to video appear in response to a user’s question about safely removing old wallpaper.
How Do Brands Benefit From Featured Snippets?
Marketers aim to have content included as a featured snippet because the info gets a more prominent placement than typical organic search results. Having your website contained within a featured snippet improves its visibility in SERPs. In addition, your information acts as a teaser designed to prompt users to click through to your website for additional content.
Some feel that users may not have a reason to navigate to a website if they find the answer they need within a featured snippet. However, users often want more than the simple info contained within the SERP. The more the featured content piques their interest, the more likely the user will engage further with your website.
How to Optimize for Featured Snippets
Before you get started, think about what featured snippets opportunities are available for your industry. For example, if you work in the healthcare industry, it’s more likely that users may enter queries containing health-related keywords. There’s no way to predict featured snippet volatility that could affect your rankings. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth making an effort to get your website content pulled into a Google snippet.
Add “What Is” to headings
First, add a “What Is” heading tag somewhere in your content. Put it as close to the top of your content as you can. For example, if you’re writing a blog post, try to add it right below the introductory paragraph. That helps keep the flow of the content consistent.
Use Is statements
Next, work in various “is” statements that offer a firm answer to questions. An example of that is writing the sentence, “An application programming interface (API) is a piece of software that helps two applications communicate,” in response to a query that asks, “What is an API?”
Avoid including your brand name
You want to keep your language as generic as possible. Featured snippets typically fuel voice searches for devices like Google Home. Including your brand name can make things more confusing. Try to ensure that you’re providing general answers, not just those that pertain to your company.
Using Featured Snippets to Your Benefit
While putting your SEO strategy into practice, keep the above guidelines in mind as you optimize your content for featured snippets. Avoid using first-person language, and make sure you provide a fully-defined answer to potential user queries.