Digital Marketing

Everything you need to know about Google Featured Snippets

By Mark Fairlie

Google Snippets appear under the search box when you perform a search on the site. They appear above the natural search results but underneath the paid-for search results (if they appear on a page).

Google’s sole focus in the provision of services to its customers is to provide them with information they want straight away. Featured Snippets were developed as a way of achieving that particular goal. Featured snippets appear on all platforms where available, including desktop and mobile phones.

Featured Snippets appear in one of three different ways:

  •  as a paragraph of text (sometimes supported by an image) – normally no more than 45 words long
  • as a list (usually a collection of the H2 elements on a particular page)
  • as a table of results

Paragraphs are the most common type of Featured Snippet, according to GetStat, with 81.95% coverage. Lists contribute 10.77% and tables 7.28%.

If information from your website is chosen as the Featured Snippet, you will on average see a near 700% increase in clicks to your site from that search result, according to Search Engine Land. Stone Temple reports an increase of between a fifth and a third in general traffic from sites with multiple Featured Snippets.

In our opinion, it’s worth configuring your site to give it the best chance of being used by Google in this way. Other than the cost of SEO and a few configurations on your website’s pages, there is no cost when your information is used in a Featured Snippet. In addition, you can’t buy a Featured Snippet – they do not function in the same way as Google AdWords, the site’s pay-per-click advertising service.

How does Google choose who provides a Featured Snippet?

Google lists everything by what it believes to be the relevance to the searcher’s keywords or phrases. The same principle applies with Featured Snippets.

If your site is not highly ranked, Google will not consider using it in its Featured Snippet. You must be in the top 10 in nearly all cases however being first in the results is not important. GetStat recently produced a report showing that nearly three quarters of Featured Snippets did not come from the top-ranked website on a given search.

The site whose content appears the most frequently in Featured Snippet is Wikipedia. It will be a challenge for any SEO expert to top that but it’s not impossible as part of an overall SEO strategy targeting inclusion in Featured Snippets.

MaxWeb’s Featured Snippet strategy for clients

Continue SEO’ing the hell out of your website – hard!

We’ve already seen how important it is to finish on the top page of any search result to have a chance to have your content used in the Featured Snippet. Whatever SEO strategy you’re currently using at the moment, you need to continue to use it with a view to constantly getting better over time. SEO must be a central focus for your business because, as MaxWeb clients have proven time after time, continual and relentless investment in making your search engine visible reaps enormous rewards.

For search terms where you are already ranking high, choose those as your primary target for Featured Snippet inclusion.

What questions are searchers asking?

Use tools like SEMRush, Keywordtool.io, and Serpstat for keyword research paying particular attention to the following:

• what questions are already being asked in natural English? and
• what are the most popular search terms in general in your field of expertise?

The number of people using voice search has increased exponentially in the last few years with the migration of the majority of internet activity to smartphones and tablets with voice recognition. When people search by voice, they tend to use language much closer to the language they would use in everyday spoken language.

The majority of Featured Snippets are not triggered by a natural language question however it would be wise to consider their inclusion within the text of your website as an investment in the general direction of travel.

Question and answer structure – what Google wants to see

Unlike putting in rich snippets and other web features, there is no hard and fast rule to tell Google what content you want them to use if they choose your site to be included as a Featured Snippet.

Try a question and answer structure. When the desired keyword, key phrase, or key questions appears in the text on your website, try to answer the question straight away. If there is a fair degree of separation between them then, no matter how advanced Google’s natural language programming, it won’t be able to recognise them in the way it needs to recognise them.

The trend is your friend

Underneath most Featured Snippets is a “People also ask” box – these are the questions that Google believes are the most closely related in content and topic to the original question it provided the Featured Snippet for.

You may want to use this feature to select the questions and the keywords for potential inclusion on your web page followed by their answers to give your content the best chance of being chosen by Google.

Use images

Images with text always work better than text on its own. Google will often select an image from the web page it uses for Featured Snippets although you don’t have a choice which one it will choose so make sure that they’re all good and that the pictures support the content.

Comprehensive SEO from MaxWeb with Featured Snippets focus

Being chosen for a Featured Snippet is, in many ways, out of the control of webmasters and business owners however, by tweaking the established and proven principles of search engine optimisation, there’s a great opportunity to give your company’s visibility a significant boost.

If you’d like to improve your chances of your copy being included as a featured snippet on Google, contact the Maxweb team. We’ll work with you to put together a strategy to make your website and its contents visible to Google. For more information, call us on 0151 652 4777 or email info@maxwebsolutions.co.uk.

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