What is a featured snippet?

Chances are you have probably have come across a featured snippet on search before but didn’t realise what they were called. Simply put, a featured snippet is a short answer or summary to a user’s query.

There are three types of featured snippets: list snippets, paragraph snippets, and table snippets. Each one provides key meta data, including page title, url, and a link to the relevant article.

Here is an example of a paragraph snippet:

Featured snippets

Here is an example of a list snippet:

recipe list featured snippet

And here is an example of a table snippet:

Table featured snippet

Please note: You should not confuse answer boxes with featured snippets.

Did you know? Featured snippets appear with an image 27.58% of the time.

Answer boxes are provided by Google and not pulled through from any website. Here is an example of an answer box:

Google answer box

Now you know what a featured snippet is, it’s important to look at what their benefits are.

Advantages of featured snippets

1. Increase organic sessions

One of the main benefits of featured snippets is that they help bring your content straight to the user’s line of sight. If you are positioned at the top of the search results, users will be more inclined to click on your page and therefore increase your organic sessions.

2. Increase rankings over competition in SERPs

It has been found that your article doesn’t need to be ranking first in SERPs to feature in a snippet. Therefore you could be ranking much further down the page but if your page is well structured for the relevant query and gets picked up by Google to feature in the snippet you could effectively leapfrog your competitors.

Example:

When searching “cost of driving lessons” into search you can see that Money Supermarket benefit from the paragraph snippet, despite their article not ranking first in SERPs. They jump over their competitors confused.com and benefit from an increase in visibility, which is most likely going to increase their click-through rate.

And the reason why Google has selected this article over their competitors? It all comes down to clear structure and coding.

featured snippet benefits

3. Provide authority

If you are seen to successfully answer the user’s query then you are more likely to be perceived as a key influencer or thought leader on the particular subject. The searchers will consider your brand to be knowledgeable and may feel like they are more able to trust you, which is an important purchasing factor for customers.

Implementing featured snippets

So now you have an understanding about what a featured snippet is and the benefits of them, how can you use these to your advantage to create featured snippets of your own?

The importance of clear structure and code

Ultimately Google wants to provide searchers with the most useful and relevant answer for their query. If you structure your article or page properly you can help Google’s complex algorithm to find and identify your content.

Here are some key tips:

  • Keyword focused page title – What is the query you want to answer? Make sure your page title matches this, as you can see from the example above Moneysupermarket have successfully done this.
  • Keyword focused h1 tag – H1s are an important contributing factor for increasing rankings in Google and they are vital for featured snippets too. It is important to get this to match exactly with the search query. We can see that Moneysupermarket have done this correctly for their article whereas confused.com have not.

Confused.com:

h1 tags in featured snippets

Moneysupermarket:

Featured snippet example

  • Align alt image tags to your keyword – Alt image tags are an important criteria for gaining featured snippets. Using this for our example on the cost of driving, we can see that the Moneysupermarket contains an infographic with an alt image tag that matches the exact query. Consistency is key.

Confused.com:

alt image tags

Moneysupermarket:

alt image tags in featured snippets

  • Optimise your meta description – This has not been found to be a contributing factor to search or getting your article to feature in a snippet. However, it can help persuade users to read your article and therefore increase click-through rate. Make sure it is engaging and explains the benefits of clicking through to your article.

 

How to find featured snippet opportunities

In his riveting talk at BrightonSEO, Rob Bucci mentioned some useful ways of finding featured snippet opportunities. For example, their team recently found that Google does not feature any snippets for places. This is probably due to Google already using their Google
My Business pages for these terms:

Google my business page

Identify long-tail keywords and search queries

The first thing to do is to identify the key terms that people are searching for around your product or service. It can be difficult to locate this data but useful tools such as STAT Search Analytics, SEMrush, and Google Search Console can help provide you with this information.

Download Rob Bucci’s slideshow from BrightonSEO, which contains key trigger words that generate featured snippets.

Using SEMrush to identify snippet opportunities

Login to your account on SEMrush and pull through the “phrase match” report. We have used the BBC as an example for this.

semrush 4

Once you have identified your keywords that trigger featured snippets you should enter these individually into the filtered “phrase match” section. For example, we have searched for the common trigger term “how to” for all the articles and pages the BBC have related to cost:

phrase match report

Take these top ranking pages and identify if they have featured snippets. For this example I searched “how to download from BBC iPlayer” into Google. This generated a featured snippet:

BBC iplayer snippet

Once you have identified these you can begin optimising your own content to increase click-through rate on both the snippet and on-page.

  • Are there clear call to actions on the page?
  • Is the page user friendly on mobile?
  • Could you add additional content such as imagery or videos?

These are all questions you should be asking.

If you identify a suitable query that doesn’t yet trigger a featured snippet, then you should consider making the most of this opportunity by creating unique content that matches exactly with the search query.

What next?

The truth is there is no way of guaranteeing that your article will trigger a featured snippet. However, there are ways you can optimise your content for the best chances of being featured. You can also continually look for potential opportunities and create unique, well-structured content for these search queries. Sure, it may not always become a featured snippet but either way if it will still be of use and value to your audience.

To increase your brand’s visibility online with the use of featured snippets, give Zest a call on +44 (0)1865 684999 or contact us online.