In the year and in the months where voice search is all set to take the world by storm, acquiring the top spot on Google’s organic search results is an uphill battle. Not to mention, Featured Snippets are the most coveted spot for any business looking to increase their reach and ramp up their brand awareness.
But just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance of winning.
Featured snippets are your ticket to success if you can’t climb to the top spot. It’s named Position Zero, for a reason, after all.
That’s why today, we’re going to briefly talk about what featured snippets are, and how you can optimize your content to reach that coveted position on the SERPs.
All About Featured Snippets
We can describe featured snippets with a couple of examples.
So let’s say we do a Google search on “how to take care of wall art”.
Most of the time, Google includes images with a featured snippet, depending on the query. Just by looking at how featured snippets are present, it’s easy to see that it’s geared towards making online search easier.
With just a glance, you immediately see the answer you’re looking for. Programmatically, Google chooses the best answer from a third-party website and features that in a snippet. Moreover, you can find these above the first organic search results. That’s why it’s also called “Position Zero,” as we mentioned.
Generally speaking, featured snippets are classified into three:
- Table: These types of snippets appear for posts or articles that include comparison charts. This is because Google places value on content that’s well structured. So prices, rates, years, and other abundant numerical data grouped and organized by tables will certainly appear.
- Paragraph: Paragraph-type answers appearing in snippets answer to questions like who, why, when, what, and how.
- Lists: When questions are answered and presented through bulleted lists and numbered lists, they also have high chances of being presented in Google’s featured snippets.
How to Optimize Your Content for Featured Snippets
Featured snippets have been in Google since 2014. But it’s only recently that marketers are looking to take advantage of the benefits one can reap from it. But the very fact that Google aims to provide an awesome experience by showing users relevant and the best search results is more than enough reason to rank for Position Zero.
Step #1: Keyword research aimed for question-type search queries
Keyword research has always been a constant and indispensable tool for successful pieces of content, especially for content that ranks on featured snippets. The main trick to landing a spot on Position Zero is to answer the questions that your target audiences are asking.
You’ve probably heard of many keyword research tools that have free trials but mostly paid services, like Ahrefs or SEMrush. And while tools like those are indeed advantageous at full capacity, you still don’t have a shortage of free tools to use.
Free online tools like: KWFinder, Ubersuggest, Answer the Public, etc. are at your full disposal. They range from offering services that let you see keyword relevance, value, and volume to typing in keywords and seeing what types of questions people query on search engines.
With that in mind, don’t disregard the importance of Google itself as a search engine for keyword references and featured-snippets-friendly content.
As you research keywords and check out suggested terms, don’t forget to check the section on SERPs that say, “People also ask.” They’re mostly found underneath “Featured Snippets.”
If you have a list of terms or long-tail keywords up for writing content around, you can consider this a goldmine that offers more opportunities to expand a given topic. Maybe even answer multiple questions in one article.
Step #2: Improve on-page SEO to rank on the first page
Being on the first page of SERPs increases the chances of being in a featured snippet. This is mostly because nearly all featured snippets are located on the first page. That means organic rankings are still an important factor, and will remain so for an indefinite amount of time. It’s a solid practice that you shouldn’t disregard either.
Revisit and realign strategies on how to make your on-page SEO better while providing top-notch user experience.
- Build a solid link structure.
- Earn backlinks from relevant and trusted sources.
- Consider searcher intent closely.
- Update content so it stays evergreen and relevant.
- Diagnose SEO problems and search for penalties. Fix them if there are any.
- Keep track of game-changing algorithm updates.
Step #3: Use the inverted pyramid structure for writing content
Write your blog posts and those many how-to articles like you would a news story. The inverted pyramid is a journalism concept that prioritizes the most important information first. The vital details follow, and the background information and supporting ideas come least.
Image Credit: Easy Media
How would you apply that to writing blog posts?
If you’ve done keyword research and have a question to focus on, you would want to answer that question directly before diving into the details.
Let’s say you’re writing an article that is all about, ‘5 Steps to Tie Your Shoes’. What you can do is begin with a list of the steps. Have it act as a preview or as a ‘table of contents’. Afterward, dive into each step and explain how to do things in better detail.
If you’re writing, ‘Should you optimize for Google or your users?’ Give the straightforward answer on the first paragraph. And then dive deeper as the article progresses.
Step #4: Formatting and optimize word count
Earlier in this article, we pointed out the three classifications of how featured snippet results are presented. So as you write using the inverted pyramid model, keep in mind these classifications too. Whether you’re aiming for a table, paragraph, or list, make sure your answers are immediately on the first part of the article.
There’s also the matter of the optimal word count. The majority of featured snippets have lengths of 40-50 words. This analysis is thanks to SEMrush doing a study for over 10 million keywords and 1 million domains.
So aside from displaying the central information first, stay safe by keeping your answers brief and straightforward. No more than 58 words at most.
Step #5: Optimize your content structure
Content is king. Therefore, content must be properly structured.
That means no large walls of text. The most basic format for writing blog articles — especially long-form ones include:
- Using descriptive headers and header tags (h1, h2, h3, etc).
- Provide direct answers with simple, short, yet punchy sentences.
- Use bulleted or numbered lists.
- Add visuals like tables, graphs, relevant images, or videos.
Structured content must be understandable, relevant, useful, and skimmable. Long-form content does well for the sheer amount of detail found within, but don’t neglect the fact that you will have readers who will likely be on the hunt for quick answers.
Ranking on Google’s Featured Snippets are an advantage you simply can’t miss out on. You can:
- Loot traffic from the first result.
- Optimize for voice-search at the same time.
- Be seen as a trusted expert.
As the prime source of reliable information according to Google’s own recommendation, you can easily become the go-to website as people in your niche look for advice.
Getting better traffic and improving your site’s SEO means occupying the first position of Google search results. But it doesn’t have to be your only go-to. Snagging a spot in Featured Snippets is your second chance. And it’s the one you shouldn’t take for granted.
Al Gomez is a Digital Marketing Consultant at Dlinkers and Sagad. With more than twelve years of digital marketing experience in search engine optimization, paid search and email marketing, he has contributed to a variety of online publications including Moz, Semrush and Wordtracker.