Since 2014, Google has been increasing the number of featured snippets available for search. Featured snippets are the answer boxes that appear at the top of SERPs (search engine result pages) – they’re the featured result and thus usually have a much higher click-through rate than the other results. Because the featured snippet box is located above the first result, it’s often called Position 0.
Links with Voice Search
The featured snippet is important not only because it has a higher click-through rate. It is also important because it is usually linked to voice search. If a user searches with voice search, the answer returned is generally from the featured snippet.
Featured snippets answer a question. This is actually linked to voice search as well, because users tend to ask questions rather than using a single keyword when searching via voice. To create content that is eligible for a featured snippet, word your keywords and phrases in the form of a question, and then answer that question within the content of your web page. Think about how your current keywords can be turned into questions that users might be asking – for example: ‘How can I improve user experience on my website?’ instead of ‘improving user experience’.
Rank on the First Page
Usually, only search results that appear on the first page of the SERP are considered for a featured snippet. If you’re on page two or three, then you’ll need to improve your SEO strategy. Many of the changes that would need to be made to earn a featured snippet would also improve your SEO – it may just take some time to move from your current position to one high enough for a featured snippet.
Just like with keywords, the featured snippet is all about finding the right opportunity. It’s difficult to rank for broad keywords that have a huge number of results. Similarly, it’s difficult to rank highly and be considered for the featured snippet for a question that is commonly asked. Your best bet is to reduce the competition for both search rankings and for the featured snippet by narrowing down your desired key question to something more specific that you have a better chance at ranking highly for. Google helpfully provides a ‘People Also Ask’ section underneath featured snippet boxes so you can check out some of the other possible questions you could answer.
Look at Current Featured Snippets
To see what kind of content ranks highly for your keywords, check out the websites that are currently ranked highly and which ones currently have the featured snippet. How do they word the answer? What keywords are they using? You can also look at the ads at the top of the SERP for ideas, since they have been researched by marketing teams to see what users would best respond to. While you can’t copy their wording, you can look at these for inspiration – what did they do to rank so highly?
Ask What Users Are Looking For
Websites that function as question and answer portals, such as Quora or Yahoo Answers, are excellent sources of questions. You can start by looking for more general questions and then let the site help you narrow the search down to more specific questions that users are asking about that subject. This can help you see exactly what users interested in your topic are looking for and you can target these questions.
It’s not enough to just answer the question posed in your keywords. The answer also needs to be structured so that it can easily fit into the answer box of the featured snippet. Structuring your content as FAQs can help – as can using bullet points, lists, tables, etc. – anything that puts your content into easily digestible segments that are a maximum of 50 characters long.
Google also features videos (and favors one of their own children, YouTube). Since users are increasingly turning to video for their content, and many people are a little too nervous to get in front of the camera, this can be an untapped opportunity.
YouTube videos can improve your user experience on your website, bolster your brand’s overall SEO efforts, and provide opportunities for additional featured ranking. Instructional videos that answer a user’s question directly about “how to” do something are especially good opportunities for ranking as Google’s featured video.
And just a reminder – make the most of your content! Once that video is made, share it across social media, put it in a newsletter or email blast, re-invent it as a blog or ebook, and incorporate it into your email marketing campaigns. Truly high-quality content (in any form) can be used time and time again.
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