Since Google search engine was launched, bloggers and company owners have been competing against each other to hit the top spot for a given search query related to their product or service. However, did you know that there is something better than the first rank on Google search result? (Well, you probably do) It’s the rank Zero. And no, these are not paid ads. There is a way to have your content appear above a search result in position #1–without paying a single dollar for it! Thanks to Featured Snippets.

In this post, I will answer three main questions:

  • What are featured snippets?
  • What are the different types of featured snippets?
  • How can you get your content in featured snippets?

Let’s jump right in and understand more about featured snippets.

The featured snippet is a summary of an answer to a user’s query, which is displayed on top of Google search results. It’s extracted from a webpage, and includes the page’s title and URL. Google only recently introduced their featured snippets to the general public. So there are still a large number of internet marketers and website owners who are unaware of how these new featured snippets section works. These snippets are Google’s way of showing users the exact information they’re looking for in the easiest, most prominent way possible.

Featured snippets present useful information right in the search results– so the user need not click multiple links to find the information.

When it comes to traffic from the first page of Google, the 1st organic search result, on average, gets 26% click-through rate. However, when there’s a featured snippet above that result, the 1st organic search listings traffic drops to 19.6%. That gives the featured snippet 8.6% of clicks.

Let us understand this with an example. Do a Google search for ‘What are the religions in USA’. You will be presented with a list of results, but take a look at the top of the results – you’ll see that Google has extracted the answer for you from one of the search results.

The image above has 3 points:

  1. Answer to the query
  2. Page title
  3. URL to the page

Now the question arises, What is NOT a featured snippet? since we have seen similar results before. Here is an example:

The above image may look like a featured snippet but it is not so. It is an example of rich answer. Rich Answers, also known as Instant Answers (formerly Quick Answers) are answered by Google, instantly, without credit to the site.

Google says they don’t need to provide credit because these answers are part of the public domain.

What are the type of featured snippet?

There are 3 main types of featured snippets:

Type of Snippet% of total Snippet
Paragraph Snippet81.95%
List Snippet (bullet and numbered)10.77%
Table Snippet7.28%

Let us try to understand more about them.

  • Paragraph Snippet: Approximately 81.95% of all featured snippets displayed to internet users asking questions to Google are provided in the form of paragraph snippets. These are the ones that target the “who, what. where,” type questions.

Example:

 

  • List Snippet: List featured snippets are common with results that require step-by-step instructions. List featured snippets are also very helpful and account for approximately 10.77% of featured snippets provided as answers to questions presented in the Google search box. You’ll see numbered list snippets for: Recipes, DIY tasks, How to, How do I etc type of queries.

  • Table featured snippet: Table/data featured snippets tend to show information like pricing charts, or pie charts. Google takes a look at the question that was asked and looks for data that can be utilised to provide an appropriate answer to the searcher. Google then creates a table, which can be in the form of a standard table, or even in the way of a graph or pie chart, with the data that was collected.

 

Image Source

Type of featured snippet by question type:

How to get your content in featured snippet?

  • Get back to basics and do keyword research: The starting point for featured snippet of Google is to begin with same old keyword research. Watch out for potential keywords in your niche that your website ranks for at the moment, as well as identify new possible keywords that you can aim to rank for. Once you have done that, it’s time to identify questions asked by Google users that include these keywords.
  • Research question that users are asking: The easiest way to rank in the featured snippet is to answer a question. In fact, 19% of questions have a featured snippet answer a query. So if you want your content to show when someone types a who/what/when/where/why into Google, you have to answer those questions.There are a number of different ways you can find out what questions people are asking.You should try to use Quora, which is a platform that allows users to ask questions and the community to answer them.

Let’s try to understand how this works:

Search for your primary keyword in Quora search box and you can see related question. The keyword used here is ‘Online Games’. This helps you understand what questions are the users asking. Now, you need to write content which answers such questions. You can also use Reddit to find similar questions.

  • Create Content In The Q&A Format: Once keyword and questions have been established, create content which answers a given question or optimize the content already on your website for the same. Try to give a detailed solution that will show Google that your brand is an authority and can offer the correct answer to a particular question.Make sure Google will be able to identify the fact that your website is answering a particular question by including that question in the content of the page you are trying to rank in the Featured Snippets section.
  • Make it easy for Google to read with proper formatting: The above mentioned steps won’t make any difference if Google can’t understand it. Correct formatting of your featured snippet is crucial for ranking. First, the question or keyword you are trying to optimize for should be included in the heading (h1, h2 or h3).

Here are the best practices recommended by Search Engine Land:

  1. Make the search query, or a very close version of it, a heading on the page. This means, where possible, format that query or question as an H1, H2 and so forth.
  2. Summarize the answer to the question in a single paragraph.
  3. Format that paragraph in a paragraph HTML tag <p>.
  4. Place that paragraph directly below the heading for the question.
  5. Aim for making the answer paragraph roughly 40 to 55 words.
  • Social engagement: As per the research done by SEMRush, URLs which have high social engagement have a better chance of ranking in featured snippet. This derivation is not strictly applicable but this is an indication that content we see in these positions shows strong user engagement signals.

Conclusion

There is one established fact now that Google’s featured snippet feature is here to stay. While ranking in featured snippet won’t be easy but it is certainly not impossible. The above mentioned steps can help you win a featured snippet. The fact that featured snippets only appear in 9.28% of SERPs means that there’s still a huge opportunity to find phrases and questions you can rank for. So, go ahead and claim your spot!!

Saurabh Tiwari
I am an IT engineer from the University of Mumbai, and I am established as a Digital Marketing Maverick who specializes in SEO. Currently working as an Associate Project Manager at Growisto where he helps brands achieve their business objectives by improving Google ranking. In my spare time, I am usually traveling or tripping on the newest food joints in town.
Saurabh Tiwari
Saurabh Tiwari

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