Over the past year or two, featured snippets have become one of the hottest topics in SEO. Research carried out by the people at SEMRush last year suggested that 19 percent of SERPS now include a featured snippet. A year on, that number has almost certainly increased. SEOs hated them when they first appeared, as they effectively devalued all the work that goes into ranking. But featured snippets are here to stay. The question is how can we turn them to our advantage?
Why the downer on featured snippets?
In case you’ve spent the past couple of years in space, featured snippets are those handy little Q&As that sometimes appear near the top of your Google search results. They set out to answer questions related to your search query. So for example if you search on “5G” you get featured snippets answering questions like “How is 5G different to 4G” and “What are the dangers of 5G.”
With featured snippets, Google is answering the search query without the need to leave Google. That’s why SEO and digital marketing specialists don’t like them – what’s the use of ranking for that keyword if Google is going to provide the answer right there on the results page? What’s more, Google uses the best-ranking content to provide the snippet. It seems like rubbing salt into the wound, but it also presents a way to turn featured snippets to your advantage.
Making featured snippets work for you
If yours is the content that is used in the featured snippet, you might start cursing Google for purloining your content and sharing it on its results page. However, there is a positive side. The snippet has effectively elevated your content to a top spot in the rankings. While the existence of the snippet will mean some people don’t click a result at all, others will still do so – and the one they are most likely to click is the one in the snippet.
The SEMRush research mentioned earlier evaluated more than a million SERPs. The consensus was that while featured snippets devalue most search results, there is one result that benefits, and that is the result that features in the snippet itself. So how do you make sure it is yours?
Optimizing for Google Snippets
Like so many aspects of SEO, there is no guaranteed way to get your content into a featured snippet. However, there are measures you can take to stack the deck in your favor. Google is essentially checking three things when looking for suitable snippable content, and they should come as no surprise if you know even a little about SEO.
1) Relevance – the content needs to answer a ranking question such as “How is 5G different from 4G” so you need to ensure your keyword optimization is spot on.
2) Authority – Google will look at all the usual ranking signals so your onpage and offpage SEO needs to be in order.
3) Format – the average featured snippet is a 40-50 word paragraph, so keep your content concise.
Following these optimization tips will not guarantee inclusion in Google snippets, but it will certainly improve your chances.