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How to Optimize for Google Featured Snippets

  • Felix Rose-Collins
  • 6 min read
How to Optimize for Google Featured Snippets


These days, the massive competition makes it increasingly challenging to build referral traffic from Google, and businesses that want to rank high, need to develop some strategic tactics to make it possible. Reaching the first position in Google's organic search results can be a true challenge, but just because it's tough doesn't mean you need to prepare for loss. Featured snippets can help you get the desired results.

By optimizing for the featured snippets, you can move your site to the very top of the search results — all this with only a few adjustments to the actual content of your page. Featured snippets optimizations allow you to stand out from your competitors without having to worry about backlinks, performance, or site architecture.

Below, you will learn more about featured snippets, their types, and the steps you can take to adapt for them and build more traffic.

What Are Featured Snippets? (Image Source: Unsplash)

Featured snippets are short pieces of content, most commonly in the form of snippets of text that appear on the first page of Google's SERPs (search engine results pages). Their purpose is to provide a direct answer to questions asked by users.

For instance, if you Google a phrase like "free content tools for affiliate marketing," your search results are likely to come up with results from pages with lists of allegedly the best tools that may interest you. From there, you can check free content tools for affiliate marketing by clicking on the most relevant search results, but you'll be most likely to check out the top result above others.

Featured snippets were first introduced back in 2014 and, since then, underwent many changes and improvements to make searching online more accessible and display the most accurate results.

Because featured snippets tend to be used to answer questions, they usually come in the form of a short paragraph. Paragraph snippets, also known as definition boxes, are 40 to 60 words long and remain the most popular form of a snippet. According to a study by Search Engine Journal, they make up around 82% of snippets.

However, it doesn't change the fact that other types are just as valuable and, when used correctly, can bring great results. That being said, aside from a paragraph, featured snippets can also appear as:

Ordered Lists

Two types of lists can appear as featured snippets: ordered and unordered. The former are lists in numerical order, while the latter are simply bulleted. They are typically displayed for "How" or "What" questions that can't be answered with a short paragraph and need to take the form of a step-by-step instruction or a list of items.

YouTube or Video Snippets

YouTube or Video Snippets (Image Source: Unsplash)

Videos can show up in your search results in two ways. One is a suggested clip which Google defines as a featured snippet. The other is rich results (discussed below).

Video snippets usually show up for "How-to" search queries, especially if the video's title matches the user's search. Additionally, video snippets are displayed with a time stamp that will start in a specific part of the video.

Rich Results

Rich Results

Google defines rich results as "enhanced results in Google search with extra visual or interactive features." While some still argue whether rich results can be considered featured snippets, the most important thing is that they often result in higher clickthrough rates than other types of organic search results. Rich results go beyond just the blue link and can include carousels, images, or other non-textual elements.

Table Snippets

Table snippets can show when the post that answers the searched question contains either comparison charts or content with prices, years, rates, or other numerical data. Google tends to value well-organized content and doesn't shy away from favoring it.

"People Also Ask" Snippets

Another feature that falls into the category of featured snippets is the "People also ask" boxes. This snippet provides users with questions and answers related to their original searches. Essentially, it's Google's way of implying that the suggested questions could give searchers additional research ideas.

How to Optimize for Featured Snippets (Image Source: Unsplash)

First and foremost, it's paramount to state that optimizing for featured snippets can be quite complicated and will likely require much research and effort. Even then, there is no way to guarantee success. It's up to Google to decide which pages are eligible for the featured snippets and which are not.

Still, it doesn't change the fact that featured snippets are superb branding opportunities, and their possible benefits outweigh the amount of work required. Here's how you can try to have Google put the odds in your favor.

Optimize for Question-Like and Long-Tail Keywords

Optimize for Question-Like and Long-Tail Keywords

Question-like and long-tail keywords have high chances of triggering fractured snippets in their SERPs. According to a study by Ahrefs, there's a noticeable tendency for Google to display featured snippets for direct questions and longer keywords.

Thus, if you take the time to optimize your pages around these two types of keywords, the search engine will be more likely to use them as potential answers and display them as featured snippets. To target them and get the ideas for the keywords you should go after, you can use tools such as Google Suggest or explore Google's Related Searches.

If you recall the types for featured snippets mentioned above and then take a look at your site, it will be easy to figure out what steps you need to take to optimize for a specific type you want to focus on.

When writing and using specific formats within your content, try to be as concise as possible. Stick to roughly 40-60 words per paragraph (or 250-350 characters), but don't use it as a strict rule and allow yourself some space for longer bits of text.

It's all about writing your content with the featured snippet and how it looks among other search engine results in mind. Try to go with eye-catching words, keep the sentences on the shorter side, but don't be too vague, and include helpful yet basic enough information that will make the reader visit your site for more details.

When it comes to inserting images, remember that those included in featured snippets aren't always taken from your content. That's because Google uses an image algorithm that causes the images to be loaded separately, so they can be low quality and therefore unattractive to users.

To prevent this from happening, you can scale your images up to 960 x 1200px. The featured graphic in an average snippet is roughly 160 x 200px, so following this ratio makes you more likely to get a quality thumbnail in the snippet.

Focus on Your Rankings

Focus on Your Rankings (Image Source: Unsplash)

Improving your ranking can be another way to "win" a featured snippet. To make it work, you need to keep your page in the top ten search results for a given search query because Google tends to include only those sites that are ranking somewhere on the first page of the SERP.

While it might sound quite unfortunate or even unfair, you must remember that it's necessary, as Google is always trying to provide the most reliable and trustworthy answers for the users. The best solution is to use the top-ranking pages that feature quality content and already have high authority.

To improve your rankings, you can:

  • Make your page readable and user-friendly,
  • Keep the web pages loading quickly,
  • Make your site mobile-friendly,
  • Switch to SSL instead of HTTP protocol,
  • Practice internal linking,
  • Link to quality external sources,
  • Find and fix SEO problems.

Use the Inverted Pyramid Style

In journalism, the inverted pyramid concept refers to the rules that tell us how the writer should structure the information. Fortunately, you can easily apply this information to the answers for featured snippets.

To follow this style's guidelines, structure your content so the most important information is presented first. Make the who, what, when, where, and why appear at the start of your "story." Then, follow them with supporting details and background information. Doing so will help keep your content relevant and concise, optimizing it for featured snippets.

Create Content That's Better Than Your Competition's

Create Content That's Better Than Your Competition's (Image Source: Unsplash)

If you want to get featured snippets, there's no way around this: your content needs to stand out from the crowd. Try putting yourself in your potential customer's shoes when writing and creating.

Focus on covering all the essential information that users may expect in the content they're looking for with their search queries. Furthermore, don't overcomplicate your sentences and use simple language that everyone can easily understand (but don't make it too simple).

You may also want to add value to your articles and blog posts by including statistical data, rich media, examples, or pointers. Save the opinion-based content and base it on research, as citations help Google understand it and make it more likely to get used in featured snippets. Finally, aim to create relevant, valuable content that you'd like to see if you were the one using the search engine.

Final Thoughts

The format of Google's featured snippets focuses on providing users with valuable and quality information on its platform itself. But Google cannot display all relevant information in 40 to 60 words, which is your chance to shine and drive more traffic to your site.

Use this guide to nail the featured snippets game, give your brand an excellent reputation, and boost your organic traffic. Remember that without optimizing the style of content of your website, it's impossible to make the most of your digital marketing efforts. Don't let them go to waste; the next time you sit down to work, follow the tips above. With their help, there's no reason why you shouldn't gain a featured snippet consistently and enjoy its benefits.

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