How to rank for featured snippets

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How to optimise for Google's featured snippet

How to rank for featured snippets

Google is constantly changing its features and refining the way it displays results to users. How do you keep on top of the game?

This guide teaches you how to optimise your content for one of Google’s most coveted features: the featured snippet.

What is a featured snippet?

A featured snippet shows the summary of an answer to a user’s query, showcased in a box at the top of Google’s results page, otherwise known as ‘position zero’.

There’s no exact science for earning a featured snippet, and even once you achieve position zero you’re not guaranteed to stay there if Google decides that another page is better suited to rank for the keyword.

However there are a number of ways you can format your content to increase your chances of gaining, and hopefully retaining, the top spot.

Let’s start with an understanding of the different types of featured snippet you could rank for.

What are the different types of featured snippet?

There are four main types of featured snippet which you can optimise your content for:

Paragraph snippet

This is the most common form of featured snippet which provides users with a direct answer to their question.

According to Search Engine Journal, you’ll see paragraph snippets for questions beginning with:

  • How to do/get…
  • Who is…
  • Why is…
  • What is…

List snippet

List-style featured snippets can be either ordered lists showing steps in a process or unordered lists where Google formats the headings of a bulleted list to show a summarised view of the content.

Table snippet

For structured data, Google will present information in a table for better readability.

YouTube snippet

Video snippets are appearing more frequently in search results, highlighting the growing popularity of this type of content.

How to optimise your content for Google's featured snippet

1. Do your research

An Ahrefs study found that 99.58 percent of all featured snippets are from sites that rank in the top 10 for that search term. So your best chance of winning a featured snippet is with keywords you are already ranking on page one for and which have a featured snippet. You don’t need to have the top ranking organic spot to feature and there is no specific markup required.

To identify which keywords you are already ranking in the top 10 for, consult a keyword tool such as SEMrush or SpyFu.

You should then identify what content is currently earning the featured snippet position to see how you could adjust your content so it features instead. There are a number of ways you can do this:

  • Check for featured snippets yourself in Google. Look at the ‘People also ask’ section for a list of questions related to the search you entered. How has your competitor structured their page?
  • Use a monitoring tool such as SEMrush to find your competitors’ snippets and optimise your content for the exact same words and topics
  • Consult AnswerthePublic to discover types of question-style keywords which are more likely to appear in the featured snippet. Check search volumes and keyword difficulty in a research tool to help you decide whether the keywords are achievable and worth targeting

2. Optimise your content

If your content is a blog, follow these steps:

Think of the inverse pyramid approach to presenting content, where you put the answer to your question at the top of the page, and the rest of the content provides supplementary context to the query. With this in mind, for a blog you would structure your content as follows:

  • Ask a question using your keyword and format it as an H1 or H2 tag at the top of the page
  • Immediately below the heading, place the content you want to show in the featured snippet (the answer to the query) in a single paragraph <p> tag
  • Elaborate further in the article

If your content is a list, you should follow these steps:

  • Put your search query in a header tag at the top of the page
  • Organise your steps, list or paragraphs with header tags, and organise your headers by size, from H2-H6
  • If your content is a how-to guide which outlines a process, mark your subheadings as Step 1, Step 2 etc so that Google will display the steps chronologically

3. Create a FAQs page

FAQs and Q&A-style pages relating to frequently asked questions about your product, service or industry are a great way to optimise your content for a featured snippet.

FAQ pages are perfect for answering multiple short questions at once while dedicated blog pages are better for more complicated questions.

4. Optimise your keywords

When writing your keywords, follow these tips and hints to ensure they are properly optimised:

  • WH (Who, What, When, Where, Why) keywords have higher featured snippet rates than regular keywords
  • Long‐tail keywords (3+ word search queries) tend to trigger featured snippets and according to SEMrush, the average length for a keyword phrase for featured snippet is 6 words
  • The most common length of a featured snippet is between 40-50 words

5. Include graphics

High quality images and videos boost your chances of ranking for featured snippet. Remember to optimise your images using a minification tool such as Tinypng.

What are the benefits of a featured snippet?

For the user, featured snippets provide highly relevant answers to their questions in a way that’s convenient, quick and easy to read.

For a business that achieves position zero, there are many benefits:

  • Achievable results: unsurprisingly, Wikipedia, WikiHow and Quora commonly earn the featured snippet position but even small brands can achieve position zero for more niche questions. So no matter how big or small your organisation, if Google thinks you’re the trusted authority on a specific question, you’re more likely to earn the top spot
  • Exposure: the area occupied by a featured snippet is considerably greater than the area occupied by an organic result, giving your business maximum visibility in a prime position
  • Boost your company’s credibility: the featured snippet indicates the quality of your content to users, boosting your website’s authority and increasing traffic
  • Save money on Pay Per Click: you get the top position without any financial investment in Google Ads, saving you money and doing wonders for your SEO at the same time!

Struggling to keep up with changes to Google's search results? Need advice on optimising your content? Contact us today and speak to an SEO expert about improving your search visibility.  

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