Featured Snippets have become an essential part of any website's SEO in 2020.
Grabbing a featured snippet for a keyword can help leapfrog your blog post, service page, or product page over the competitors first place in the Google Search results. The Featured Snippet placement in the search engine results pages (SERPs) is often referred to as position zero. That's because snippets appear before the first organic result (position 1)
To get Featured Snippets, provide short, snappy but thorough answers to a user’s search query.
Let’s take a look at how to get featured snippets by using the Rank Tracker tool in Rankactive.
Google Snippet Example for the keyword Blog Post Promotion Checklist
Here's an example of a featured snippet in position zero:
Note how the featured snippet is formatted. Google likes properly structured and formatted blog posts. Writing a wall of text will not get you a featured snippet anytime soon. The best way of snagging this prime real estate on Google is to format your blog posts and pages so the search engine can understand it better.
Here’s an example of a URL that is not performing well in search:
This is, in fact, a tag page from the website’s WordPress content management system. I recommend not using tags for your WordPress posts. What I mean by this is that you should set your tags to “no index”. This can be easily done with most SEO plugins. Yoast (the most popular plugin) lets you do this. We use SEO Press and it’s also easy to hide the tags from Google with this plugin. Here’s how to do it with SEO Press:
If we take a further look at this URL we can see that two different pages target the same topic or keyword. And neither page has been updated in years.
I can see that the only formatting on the page is bolded text for the “headings”. The author missed the opportunity to use clear headings (h2 headings are ideal) for marking out the paragraphs. As it is, this page is just a lump of text. With only 8 items on the checklist, there’s little chance of competing against, say the 2nd featured snippet. This uses h3 headings to distinguish between text and the important actionable suggestions.
My blog post ranks 2nd in the organic listings but I’d wager it gets fewer clicks than either of the featured snippets.
Let’s take a look at another example of a winning recipe for getting featured snippets.
The winning snippet for the keyword “difference between Adwords and Adwords express” explains clearly what each product is. My blog post, which ranks 4th, does not.
And this is a good example of how you can improve your content to snag featured snippets. Google is giving the top spot to a post that is clear in answering the question fragment “difference between adwords and adwords express”. If a post does not actually answer this, it won’t get a snippet. It might rank high in the results but it won’t get position zero, the prized featured snippet spot.
Here’s another example: SEM vs PPC
The blog post on Fat Frog Media on this exact topic ranks in position 10. And this is actually position 13 if we include the featured snippet and the “people also ask” box that appears before the organic search results.
People rarely click on blogs at the bottom of the search page or on page two of the search results.
But I could potentially jump to the top if I made my blog post more featured snippet-friendly.
Let’s take a look at the article that gets the top spot:
The answer to the question SEM vs PPC is clearly explained in one short paragraph. This is easy for Google to process and serve up as an answer to a question. It’s also easily delivered in Google Voice to mobile users.
My post does not contain a paragraph like this. So there’s an opportunity to improve this post and potentially get the featured snippet. This will improve the search visibility and increase traffic.
Featured Snippet Cons
One thing to know about snippets is that if you manage to get a snippet for a keyword, your blog post will no longer appear in the organic results below. Previous to 2020, it was possible to have both the featured snippet and a place in the organic listings. This is no longer possible. It’s one or the other. Of course, a blog post can rank for many different keywords so it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth pursuing for all of the possible snippets up for grabs.
How to know which snippets are available? It’s impossible to know all of them as it’s a dynamic process in the algorithm but if you use a rank tracker like Rank Active you can add every useful keyword that a post ranks for by checking in Google search console. Then check to see which ones have featured snippets. Adjust your content accordingly.
Of course, if you get the top spot but you’d prefer to have the organic listing result, make sure to change the formatting of your post so that Google ignores it.
Important Points about Snippets
You really need to have your blog post ranking in the top 10 positions in Google search before it will be eligible for a featured snippet spot. (some SEOs say it needs to be in the top 5 positions)
According to Moz, 23% of search pages contain featured snippets and there are 5 types:
To get Featured Snippet, provide short, snappy but thorough answers to a user’s search query.
A summary of your entire post can be a great way to grab a featured snippet. You can put this at the start or at the end. The introduction is a great place to not only answer a specific question but describe how the blog post will help the reader.