Featured snippets have become one of the most frustrating (and somewhat exciting) challenges that has baffled the SEO and content marketing world for quite some time.
The reason for the frustration? Well, there is no Google features snippet API that exists. At all. So, if you want to feature in Google’s featured snippet, you need to put in a lot of effort by optimising your content, keyword research and SEO.
If you don’t know what a featured snippet is, or you’re starting on your journey to ranking in the coveted featured snippet, this blog post is going to cover everything that you need to know.
- What is a featured snippet?
- The different types of featured snippets?
- How to optimise content for featured snippets
- How to find more featured snippets
So, let’s begin:
1. What is a Featured Snippet?
Featured snippets are selected search results that are shown on top of Google’s organic results containing a summary of the answer to the search query. These typically include:
- A numbered list
- A snippet of text
- An image
- The source page title
- The source page URL
Here’s a Digital Beanstalk featured snippet as an example:
The featured snippet usually shows up before the rest of the search results which is not a bad spot to be positioned as they grab the user’s attention, especially if it features an image.
Having your content featured in the featured snippets provides varying results depending on your industry and the search query, however, some reports have suggested:
- Featured snippets are stealing clicks from the first ranking result.
- 30.9% of featured snippets rank in the first position. With the vast majority of them ranking in the top 10
- Featured snippets provide a 10% increase in traffic, and a 6% increase in click-through rates.
2. The Different Types of Featured Snippets
There are 4 different types of featured snippets that appear on Google’s search engine results page (SERP):
- Snippet of text
- List (both numbered and bulleted)
Let’s review what each of these snippets are and how you can make them work for your content
A Snippet of Text
Text featured snippets are the most common snippets that you’ll come across on a Google search engine results page (SERP), accounting for 82% of featured snippets.
For this type of featured snippet, Google takes the text from the source page that provides an answer to the searcher’s question, and ranks it to appear immediately after the search:
Of course, the answer to the question goes into more detail on the source page. However, the job of the featured snippet is to provide the user with a quick and easily digestible response to their answer.
Text snippets tend to feature for the search types made below:
- Who is…
- What is…
- Why is…
- How is…
The word count that Google displays in this type of featured snippet is usually between 40 to 50 words, so be sure to provide your answer to that length.
To increase your chances of featuring in the text featured snippet, include the question as a heading and answer the question immediately after. Here’s an example:
List Featured Snippets
There are 2 different types of list snippets: bulleted and numbered.
Bulleted featured snippets appear when the content piece uses bullet points to list the answers and usually occur when the order of the answer doesn’t need to be specific.
Numbered featured snippets appear when the content piece explains the step-by-step process and when the order of the answer is specific.
If your content piece is longer than the featured snippet box, Google places a “More Items’ call-to-action above the link to the source page, signalling to the user that there is more information available for them to consume, leading to an increased click-through-rate for your webpage.
Optimize Your Content for List Featured Snippets
To optimize your content to appear for list featured snippers, you need to follow the same steps taken for “text featured snippets”:
- Make sure the question is the heading
- Answer the question in 40-50 words immediately after the heading
Start by outlining your steps with list tags in your post and for each major action or step use a heading (H3). Google will then pull the steps together to populate the snippet:
Here’s the post so that you can see exactly how to do it.
The other option you can use is to put your list in a table.
Table Featured Snippets
Tabled featured snippets are primarily used to showcase data. The good news is that you don’t need to format the data within a table because Google will format it accordingly for the snippet if it applies.
However, we still recommend that you format your data into tables so that your content is easily digestible for site visitors to read.
How to Optimize Your Content for Table Featured Snippets
As mentioned, Google doesn’t physically require a table to rank in the tabled featured snippet, however, your data is more likely to feature in this format if you:
- Put your data in a table. Not only will this make it easier for your site visitors to consume content, but it will also make it easier for Google to find your data.
- Be sure to use an appropriate heading and follow this with a table containing data immediately after.
Video Featured Snippets
As featured snippets have become more and more popular, we are starting to see video content appear in the featured snippets section.
Video featured snippets tend to cover “how” searches that Google pulls in to highlight relevant videos that answer the question.
How to Optimize Your Content for Video Featured Snippets
Optimizing your content for video featured snippets is super straightforward as Google favours video content over text. Here are the steps that you can take to rank:
- Make sure your content is organised in a step-by-step format
- Be sure to upload a script for the video’s closed captions
- Lastly, optimize the video’s description using long-tail keywords
How to Rank for Featured Snippets
Now that you’ve read the ways that you can optimize your content for featured snippets, and the type of featured snippets that are available to you, the question you may have is “How do you actually rank for them?”
We are going to share our top 4 tips with you below:
1. You Need to Be Very Specific and Concise
Yes, Google certainly favours long-form content over short, however you are more likely to appear in featured snippets b being very specific and concise.
As mentioned earlier, the average length of a test featured snippet is between 40-50 words so you need to bear that in mind when writing the specific content piece that your trying to rank in the featured snippet for.
So, how does this look like in a blog format? Let’s look at our original featured snippet example from above:
Well, using a paragraph featured snippet example, we formatted our lead magnet blog post like this:
- Heading: Best Medical Marketing Strategies for 2020
- Paragraph: Developing a medical marketing strategy for your medical…
- Heading: 9 medical marketing strategies that will grow your business in 2020
- Sub-heading: Lead Generation
You need to make sure that you are specific and concise to appear in a featured snippet, you can of course elaborate in the rest of your blog post.
2. Be Sure to Use Data-Driven and Well-Structured Content
It’s no secret that Google loves bulleted lists, numbered lists, and step-by-step processes are well-organised. Be sure to use HTML tags like <table>, <ol>, <li>, <ul> as often as you can.
Remember, your sole purpose is to write content that is the best at answering the searcher’s question, so make sure that your answer contains factual and well-researched information.
3. Don’t Forget To Take Advantage of Search Intent
Search intent describes is the goal of the searcher. You’ll often find that searchers are trying to accomplish 1 of the 4 goals we list below:
- To find/go: “Digital Beanstalk Blog”
- To know: “How to rank for featured snippets?”
- To do: “Restaurants near me”
- To purchase: “Buy red socks”
To optimise your content for intent, you’ll need to make sure that your blog post answers multiple related questions.
To explain, let’s look at an example post. You can see that we touch on some questions people might have about bounce rates:
- What is a Bounce Rate?
- What Does Average Bounce Rate Look Like?
You do not need to create several blog posts to cover one topic when you can create a well-written, long-form piece that can answer a lot of the related questions, simply and clearly.
4. Use High-Quality Images
Most “text featured snippets” include an image, but there’s no way to guarantee that Google will use the image that you want them to.
Best practice for the image used in featured snippets is to use high-quality and eye-catching images in your blog posts.
How to Look For Featured Snippet Opportunities
Now that you know what featured snippets are and how to optimise your content for them, you probably want to know how to find opportunities for featured snippets.
Fortunately, we know and are going to share our techniques for finding them. The good news is that the techniques we share are really easy to use yourselves!
Tool 1: SEMRush
SEMRush is our number one tool for al things content and SEO relatied. It is by far the best way to find opportunities for appearing on featured snippets. It also allows you to track and monitor featured snippets that you are currently ranking for.
Once you know which featured snippets you’re likely to rank for, you can then go ahead and optimse those posts.
SEMRush also gives you the ability to spy on the featured snippets that your competitors rank for. Once you’ve gathered the intel, be sure to optimise your content to rank for those keywords and topics.
Tool 2: Answer The Public
Answer the Public is a free tool that allows you to find the questions that people are searching on the topics that you plan to cover in your blog posts.
For example, when we searched Answer the Public for “get more patients” it gave us 56 questions, including:
- how to get more patients
- how to get more patients in your practice
- ways to get more patients
- ideas to get more dental patients
The list above could easily be the makings of a great blog post with plenty of featured snippet opportunity.
Tool 3: Google
Google is always giving us plenty of featured snippet opportunities, which many may not even consider.
To start, have a look at what Google auto-suggests when you are typing your query into the search field. This will give you an idea of what other people are searching for:
Another great opportunity is to review the People also ask section:
This section highlights the questions that Google believes are closely related to the search topic. Disclaimer: use your own judgement with this section as Google can often throwback suggestions that don’t relate at all.
So, there you have it. That’s everything that you need to know about Google featured snippets and how you can get your medical company’s website to rank for it.
If you’re interested in more ways to get more patients, check out these Google Ads techniques you need to be using.