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In: Search Optimization

What is a Featured Snippet?

In organic search, Google’s featured snippets occupy one of the most prominent places on search engine results pages (SERPs). Also known as the “answer box,” the featured snippet is chosen by Google’s algorithms as they work to find the most appropriate answer to a searcher’s query.

Google takes content from a website that would otherwise rank on page one and provides searchers with an answer to their question and a link to that website right in the SERPs. Google’s goal with featured snippets is to answer the question in the search results, potentially improving the searcher’s customer experience and keeping the searcher on Google longer.

The featured snippet appears most often at the top of organic search results, below all ads, and is typically triggered by lower-volume, long-tail searches. However, it’s possible that featured snippets can be found in the “People also ask” sections on Google or along with the Knowledge Graph information on the right-hand side of the SERP.

While Google introduced featured snippets way back in 2014, a lot has changed since then. For one, as of this writing, the answer box is the first search result of the 10 blue links that appear on page one of Google’s SERP. Until 2020, if a business won the featured snippet, it would also appear in one of the organic search results listed below. That’s not the case today, as the featured snippet replaces that listing.

So, as a business, you want content that answers the searcher’s question, but also entices them to click through to your website for more information. Indeed a newer one Study presented in SparkToro found that nearly 65% ​​of searches resulted in zero clicks, pointing to featured snippets as a possible reason for this phenomenon.

In this roundup of featured snippets, we’ll cover the four ways, the best ways to win snippets, and why they’re important to your business.

4 types of featured snippets

Using the example of a new home buyer or someone interested in the housing market, we’ve put together a few examples of each of the four types of featured snippets below.

  1. Unit volume: The most popular type of featured snippet, the paragraph snippet, is used to provide a short description that answers the searcher’s query. Most of the time, the text in a paragraph snippet is between 40 and 60 words and provides a concise definition or answer to questions.

In the example below, a potential homebuyer would search “What is the average cost of housing in the United States” and would see a result similar to this:

  1. List: Another type of featured snippet is the list format, where answers are provided via a bulleted or numbered list. Lists can answer a “how-to” query in the form of steps, or result in a ranking or listing of items. Some examples of lists include DIY steps, recipes, “best of” lists, and featured lists—often in the form of steps or a bulleted list.

In the example below, a person interested in housing could search for “What types of housing are there” and they would see a featured snippet:

  1. Table: A tabular featured snippet presents information directly in the search results in a table format. Tables are great for displaying dates, prices, rates, etc. If you want to save a table featured snippet, be sure to mark up your content with table tags in the HTML source code. Google’s snippets in tables are great for seeing comparisons at a glance.

For example, someone wanting to compare home prices in the Midwest could type in a phrase like “average midwest US house price in 2022” and see a table snippet like the following:

  1. Video: If Google decides that a video best answers a search query, the algorithm can pull a YouTube video or clip and use it as a featured snippet. To win a video featured snippet, optimize both the video itself and the description. See our previous blog, 7 Ways to Optimize YouTube for Better SEO Performance.

If someone is interested in a home renovation project, particularly a bathroom remodel, they can search for something along the lines of “how to remodel a bathroom.” In this case, a video featured snippet can be displayed, as in the following example:

How to win the coveted featured snippet

Optimizing for the featured snippet includes keyword research, creating excellent content, and tagging the content with HTML tags, among other things.

  • Keyword research: Make sure you do your part keyword research Focusing on question-related searches. On many of the paid SEO platforms like SEMrush and Ahrefs, you can see which keywords are currently ranking for featured snippets, as well as low-competition keywords that have the potential to trigger a rich snippet.
  • Create compelling content: Write content that succinctly addresses the keywords in the first few sentences and includes supporting content that dives deeper into the topic. Use SEO Best Practices, Optimizing the headlines for the keywords that can generate featured snippets. Make sure the text varies in sentence length, is well-formatted using lists, contains original images with appropriate image alt attributes, and is easy to understand.
  • Use simple HTML tags: Have your developer use simple HTML tags so Google can easily scan your page and know what it’s about. It’s also important to add structured data to your page to improve your appearance in the SERPs and give you a better chance of winning a featured snippet.

Benefits of featured snippets

If you haven’t yet realized the importance of featured snippets, here’s what they can do for you. The main benefits of winning featured snippets include:

  • Maintaining the top organic position on Google;
  • Pushing competing websites down in the SERP;
  • increasing brand awareness;
  • increase in click rate;
  • Drive organic traffic to your website.

When your brand appears in a lot of featured snippets, it can signal to searchers that you’re a leader in your industry. This is especially true on mobile devices where, due to the smaller screen size, the user primarily sees the featured snippet in response to a search query. Now more than ever, it’s important to have well-optimized content that has the potential to win the featured snippet to take that prime spot in organic search results.

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