How to Create Content that Ranks for Feature Snippets

Mindaugas Skurvydas

This is a guest post by Mindaugas Skurvydas, SEO copywriter at Whatagraph.

Getting featured on Google's featured snippet, the answer box above all other search results, has been proven to increase click-through rate (CTR) from 2% to about 8%. And HubSpot discovered an increase in sales after they optimized their pages for featured snippets.

It's becoming clear that featured snippets are no longer "nice things to have": They are becoming an essential part of your SEO strategy.

And if you are like many digital marketers who still find it difficult to optimize their posts for featured snippets, you have come to the right place.

In this post, we'll show you how to get your pages to appear on the Google featured snippets, the number 'zero' rank position. We will also show you a few tricks you can use to get people to read your answer on the featured snippets and click on your page.

Don't forget to always track performance progress with SEO reports, and evaluate any changes you make to your SEO strategy.

What are featured snippets?

Featured snippets are selected answers pulled from the top-ranking posts on a keyword that answers the search queries. Featured snippets appear below the ads, and before the number one ranked position. 

HubSpot defines featured snippets as selections of the content displayed on the search engine results page (SERP) without the user needing to click on the page's link or visit the page. 

Content marketers are often worried that the existence of featured snippets will affect their CTR and invariably their sales. 

Why you need to start optimizing for featured snippets

  1. Snippets help you win voice searches: The number of voice searches is estimated to reach 38 million next year. With these increased voice searches, giving readers and audience the answers they readily need will help you get perceived as an expert. 
  2. Snippets steal traffic from Google search position #1: When people search on Google and reach a page that features your snippet, they're more likely to click on it than the top-ranking posts on page one of Google.
  3. You position yourself as the expert in a subject matter: The reward of answering searchers’ questions improves your authority as an expert in the niche. When searchers begin to see you as experts, they'll readily visit your page for any related questions.

How featured snippets work

The answers that appear on featured snippets are pulled from a ranking site's article. In order to have your content chosen for this page by Google, you must provide a succinct answer to the search that can be read quickly and largely answers the question posed.

Your content doesn't have to be in first place already: It can be ranked further down than the top 2,3,4 positions on the search results page to appear in the 'zero' spot that is the featured snippet. If you optimize your content well, you can even get a featured snippet position when your content ranks on the second or even third page.

Is optimizing for featured snippets worth it?

Given the relatively low CTR (for low traffic keywords), the question is whether optimizing for featured snippets is worth it.

Yes, optimizing for featured snippets is worth it. 

HubSpot’s research showed that those increased CTR impacted sales. And for high traffic keywords, the CTR increased by 114% when the post was optimized for featured snippets. You can even use some potential tools and SEO apps to help with the optimization process. 

Although the CTR for ranking number one on the first page of Google still has more CTR than having featured snippets. If your post is ranked number seven, optimizing for featured snippets is an excellent way to jump past the posts above yours. 

Types of featured snippets

  • Paragraph 
  • List 
  • Table
  • Video
  • Rich answer 
  • Tool or calculator 

Paragraph:

The most popular featured snippets are paragraph snippets. These are answers that appear as a set of words, usually between 50 to 67 words, in the answer box. 50% of featured snippets are paragraph snippets. 

Lists:

These are bulleted or numbered answers, usually a step-by-step process on how to do something, that answers the searcher’s queries. 37% of responses are listed. For DIY websites, having lists snippets is easier. 

Table:

When data is involved, table snippets are the answers. With table snippets, you are shown a table with various data sets. 

Videos:

Videos are fast becoming a go-to resource for searchers. If the best answer to a query is a video, Google will show a video. These videos will of course be pulled from Youtube.

Rich Answer: 

For questions with factual, metric-based answers, google will display a short call-out with the searcher’s query featured in bold letters and the additional information alongside it. 

Also, dictionary definitions are featured in the Rich Answer snippets. 

Tool or Calculator:

Answers to questions such as converting one currency to another is an example of a tool or calculator snippet. This would generally involve having a web designer or developer create interactive tools that answer users’ specific questions. For example, a real estate website might have a tool for calculating mortgage costs.

How do you optimize your content for featured snippets?

  1. Know what your audience is searching for by conducting keyword research 
  2. Structure your page for featured snippets 
  3. Schema markup is not compulsory. 
  4. Structure your content to answer the questions directly

1. Keyword Research:

You aim to answer searchers' queries. You need to know what the people whom you need you provide answers to are looking for. 

Start with question queries when conducting your keyword research. The “why”. “how”, “what” etc. Question queries are easier to rank for because people are always asking questions on Google. Stone Temple discovered that from 850,000 question-based queries, 19% of these queries had a featured snippet. 

Also, aside from questions that people ask, strive to provide information to searchers. Not everyone types in a question on the search bar. Ahrefs studies revealed that most of the keywords that triggered featured snippets were not queries that had questions in them. They were informational queries. 

You can use social media platforms to see what your audience is talking about. Social media listening tools will help you monitor your audience's type of conversation around the keyword you are targeting.

Good social media listening and monitoring help you create better content that's valuable to the searchers. From  Twitter to Facebook to Instagram, know the questions people ask, and provide answers to these questions. This could be one of the cornerstones of your overall content marketing strategy.

Google’s 'people also ask' at the bottom of a result's page gives you an idea of keywords you can rank for on featured snippets.

Another way to carry out keyword research is to identify search queries where you already rank high. And then update and rework the blog post to optimize for featured snippets.

2. Structure your page for featured snippets:

HubSpot research on the effect of a structured website on featured snippets optimization revealed some interesting things:

The HTML structure of a webpage affects how well your content will appear on position zero. A clean HTML markup with consistent codes helps in getting featured on the 'answer box.' After reorganizing the codes into proper categories, the HubSpot team saw a significant increase in the webpage’s content on the featured snippet position. 

An increase of 10.5% in clicks on the posts that moved into the featured snippets and 10.3% increase in CTR on those posts confirms that having clean, and easy to read HTML structures improves your chances of getting featured on position zero. 

Also, the structure of the website affected the ho frequently some of the webpages appeared on the list featured snippets. 

The research also discovered that instead of using <h> tags for your list, google favors <li> tags instead. The study also revealed that the file could be ordered <ol> or unordered list <ul>. If you want to get featured on the list in position zero, use the <li> tags instead of <h> tags. </h></li></ul></ol></li></h>

Also, remove extra unnecessary tags such as <strong> from your list items.</strong>

3. Schema markups don't count

The HubSpot research also revealed that schema markups do not affect whether your blog posts are featured on featured snippets. So, you can cancel schema markups as part of your ‘featured snippet optimization technique.’

4. Structure your content to answer questions

When answering questions on your blog posts, go straight to the point. Going straight to the point doesn't mean your answers have to be one paragraph. It means you should not waste your readers' time by giving unimportant information and going off on tangents that don't add value.

Google favors long-form content, so you need to make sure that your content extensive and covers the desired keyword topic in great detail. 

  • To answer the questions, searchers ask and frame the query as a question in your blog post.
  • Then answer the question in the next paragraph.
  • If your article contains a how-to process, list the process and then explain each process under the list.

In addition to having excellent quality content, quality, crisp images also help your content appear on Google’s featured snippet position. 

Conclusion

SEO is a continuous process that requires planning, research, and constant updating. Although it takes a while to rank on page one, the effort is worth it. You will see that in the conversion numbers.

The advantages of optimizing your blog posts for featured snippets are rewarding, so take your time to do your research. In the end, quality content, clean website structure, and a few content presentation tweaks will get your content ranked.

Mindaugas Skurvydas

Mindaugas is the SEO copywriter at Whatagraph. He delivers top-notch content by consuming too much coffee and using a MacBook which tends to overheat on his lap.

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