How to Get Your Content Included As Google Featured Snippets
At first, marketers may have been understandably hesitant to embrace Google’s Featured Snippets – a platform that provides direct answers to common search queries in search results. Rather than making the searcher click a site link to view the actual content, the searcher is instead presented with onsite content displayed directly within Google. Thus, users don’t need to click through to the site for the information…that is, unless they want more of it. For example, my query may be, “How to heal a sore throat.” With the example below, you can get an idea of exactly how Featured Snippets work:
Explaining Marketers’ Hesitancy & Google’s View
Many view this as a cheap way for Google to utilize content that didn’t originally belong to it with the overall intended effect being a decrease in click through rates for the site in question. Google’s view, however? Provide the best answers to users’ questions in a simplified format, all while saving users the hassle of having to dig around. It’s a win for the searcher – but is it a win for the website…?
Getting Featured – The Upside
Since Featured Snippets debuted, hesitancy has turned to the realization that getting your website’s content featured is actually a win. Take, for example, the benefits as described by SEO specialist Ben Goodsell in an article appearing on Search Engine Land. In fact, the upside was so high that Goodsell observed a 516% increase in organic sessions for one of his client’s pages that became featured in a snippet. Just four months prior, the page got 139,758 organic views, but in the four months after the Featured Snippet went into effect, 861,385 organic sessions were accounted for. It’s a drastic increase, and needless to say, it shows you can potentially strike gold by getting one – but how do you do it?
While Google has yet to give a definitive answer concerning how content masters can get their sites included as featured snippets, the marketing community has nevertheless coalesced around some general guidelines that should help Google utilize your content for this purpose. But before we start listing them, there’s something else you might want to do…
Evaluate Whether Your Site Is Already Working With Snippets
Figuring out whether or not you have any of your content currently listed as snippets in search results can be tough. You could endlessly type search queries into Google just to see if anything on your site pops up as featured. However, this approach is relatively tedious and there’s a better solution, as described Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller in October. Via your site’s Google Analytics platform, look for longer queries that feature interrogative words, like the how to’s and why’s of the world. According to a report from The SEM Post, Mueller stated, “Look for longer question-type queries and oftentimes if you try those out, you’ll see that we are showing some kind of quick answer or snippet type thing for those types of queries. That’s one way you can try and find these.” By establishing whether one or more of your pages is already listed as a snippet, you can follow a similar formula to get even more of your pages featured in snippets.
Shared Characteristics of Featured Snippets
Now that you’ve performed somewhat of a self-audit, let’s move on to describing the similar characteristics that webpages featured in snippets have – and how you can implement them on your own webpages.
Identify a Niche That Isn’t Covered
In SEO, we oftentimes target the search terms/keywords that get volume that our competitors are neglecting. The same can be said for featured snippets. Let’s say you’re in the automobile industry. While you may have a hard time getting featured for “how to change your car’s oil” because there are already so many sites that provide tutorials, you may have a better chance getting featured for something much more unique and specific – like “how to flush the transmission on a Toyota Corolla.” Before figuring out what queries you want to target, type questions into Google to see if a featured snippet for that query already exists from another site. If it doesn’t, the competition is low and your content is more likely to get featured.
Get to the Point
Content that starts off with fluff-filled paragraphs before getting to the essence of what the webpage is talking about won’t typically get crawled for Google Snippets. Rather, providing the user’s likely question as the title, then directly answering it below is your best strategy.
Take, for example: When typing the query “What is an internal hard drive?” into Google, search results will display a snippet taken from Newegg’s Internal Hard Drive Buying Guide. If you click on this page, you’ll see that while some short content (the table of contents) is included above the information that’s featured in the snippet, but overall the webpage does an exceptional job of getting to the point. It lists what’s likely on the user’s mind via the paragraph title in bold (“What is the Internal Hard Drive?”), then directly answers the question below it (“The internal hard drive is…”).
Expand Beyond the Q&A
While there may be some exceptions, for the most part, webpages that get featured snippets typically dive further into the subject matter at hand. After all, let’s remember that Google prizes quality content that’s unique and often times, long form. The more informative and in-depth, the better. While starting your webpage off with something similar to the search query as the title, then directly answering it below is great…it’s important to go above and beyond.
Provide Step-by-Step Directions for “How To” Queries
Asking “What or who is” is one thing, but what happens when the query uses an adverb like “how?” Let’s say you’re looking up “how to repair drywall.” If you’re trying to optimize your page to be featured as a snippet for a query like this, include something similar to the query as the article title “How to repair drywall,” then step-by-step numbered directions or bullet points. It’s to the point and made as simple as possible for the reader – something Google will definitely like.
By making sure your onsite content features the above characteristics, you’ll make it that much more likely that it’ll get picked up by Google and transformed into feature snippets. Even though your content is getting directly displayed in search results, it shouldn’t decrease your click-through rates. Rather, based on what we know so far, it should increase them.