A featured snippet is a summary that answers a search engine user’s query. It’s particularly useful for users on a mobile device as well as those using voice search.
One can grumble about these kinds of results not sending traffic but they do send some traffic. The pragmatic approach is that someone’s going to benefit from that traffic so it may as well be you.
When Does Google Show a Featured Snippet?
Google shows a featured snippet when their algorithm recognizes that a search query is a question
“When we recognize that a query asks a question, we programmatically detect pages that answer the user’s question, and display a top result as a featured snippet in the search results.”– John Mueller
1. To optimize for paragraph featured snippets, craft succinct paragraphs in the 40 to 60-word range, or roughly 350 characters.
2. To optimize for featured snippet lists, you should create lists with more than 8 items, so the results are truncated. However, if you need to create a shorter list, use longer item descriptions to achieve truncation. Truncated lists encourage engagement to see more.
To optimize for featured snippet tables, use more than 5 rows or 7 columns to achieve truncation and encourage engagement.
- Change how you construct your content.
- Change how your architect your content.
- Prioritize user experience.
Forget the top 10: 94% of featured snippet URLs rank in the top five.
Anatomy of Top Featured Snippet
Here’s what top performers have in common.
- You are skimming this right now.
Long-form content must be scannable on mobile. 22 headers and subheaders are used on average in top performers. Subheaders are great for usability for long-form content on mobile.
- 83% of URLs are secure (HTTPS).
- Average reading level was 7th grade
The average Flesch-Kincaid reading level was 7th grade. For a frame of reference, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (book #7) has a 7th-grade reading level. The Affordable Care Act has a 13th-grade reading level.
- Don’t put up walls.
…walls of text, I mean. On average, we found 12 images with ALT text. Use strong visuals to break up your content. Visuals bring quick understanding to your audience. This includes adding video.
- Cite your evidence.
On average, we found 33 external link citations. Stop hoarding your “authority.” Now more than ever, people want you to back up your claims.
- Mobile experience is important.
Average Google Mobile-Friendly Score: 95/100
Average Google Mobile-Usability Score: 95/100
How To Work Towards A Featured Snippet
1. Review Landing Pages in Google Analytics
Start by reviewing the landing pages in your Google Analytics account. Look for pages that have increased in traffic since they have been published and pages that have been steady providing traffic to the site. Review and identify articles that are 6 months to a year old.
2. Combine Articles Into One Major Resource
Review articles that have similar content or topics that are discussed and combine those articles. This is a great way of turning a 600 word article to one that is over 1,000 words and more. The information you have will be able to provide a more in-depth solution for your users. You are now providing a search intent that will garner the algorithms attention.
Example: Combing Two Articles into One:
Combined two topics that are very relevant into one major post which will provide you a high word count and you are able to discuss both sides of the issue under one topic instead of two. Grab the images of both articles and place them in the new joint post. Review your internal linking to reduce spamming to your service pages.
3. Optimize the Content
Just as we talked above about combining the articles into one post you want to make sure that the content flows and doesn’t make it sound like separate posts should have been created. Start the article with the first 2 or 3 lines of the blog post and then create a new featured image that is relevant to the subject.
Make sure you use header tags such as the H2 tags for each header section of the article to help break up the text. If you have an article that is a list that can be used as your header text to discuss more information within the text.
Your header text has the same opportunity to appear as a featured snippet text as does a section of your content. If the article is 600 words or less increasing your word count can help but what’s going to really separate you from the competition is how you answer the search intent.
Be informative and link to reliable resources in your industry. You do not need to link to a competitor. Linking to other blog articles from third party sites that are relevant to a particular subject matter can help you become an authority in your space.
Using resources provides you with a way to support your narrative and proof of your findings.
Simplify your paragraphs with each paragraph being 2 or 3 lines each at the most. Make it easy for the user experience to comb through the content so it is easier to view via desktop or their mobile device.
Use bullet points when an article starts discussing 3 items or more within a sentence. That list may be what helps separate you from the competitors when it comes to ranking for a featured snippet.
4. Images Add Value
Adding images to the article not only helps break up the content just like the headers can they provide you with SEO value. Optimize your images to include alt text and title texts that describe what the image is about and how it is relevant to the article the user is viewing.
Proper image names are typically overlooked. With platforms like WordPress making it easy to just upload an image from your phone with a proper file name really leaves site owners with a missed opportunity.
Image files should be consistent and it’s important to make sure that you do the following:
- Update image file name to match what the topic at hand is about.
- Alt Text and Title text provide more value to your SEO efforts and is ADA compliant.
- Proper image size makes sure that your files are not longer than your content and provide additional scroll.
- Reduced image file size so the page does not slow down in loading. A large image will affect user experience.
5. Internal Links Provide Link Juice
One of our strong suits is link building and adding internal links to your service pages or other blog posts can help provide you audience with a way to go view more information relevant to their search. Do not be afraid to add internal links that promote your service pages, city pages or other blog posts within your website.
The goal is to provide relevant information that the user can find informative and potentially become a lead. Promote your website when it makes sense to do so. Users will know a site pushing an agenda when they are not getting the information they need to understand or learn something new.
Do not be afraid to promote third party resources to help balance your self promotion and the article you are sharing. By not providing proof to back up your findings it makes it harder for someone to believe that you should be taken seriously.
6. Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
Tweak your title tag so it’s not the same as your blog title. Minor changes, nothing that needs to be completely rewritten. Google is going to adjust your title tag to include your brand company. So the title tag you use for your article will help Google understand what your topic is about and if there are variations of the subject you can rank for as well.
Even though Google changes meta descriptions for search results it is up to you to decide if this is something you want to do. I have seen where a page’s description is their footer contact information. So to make sure that doesn’t happen don’t be afraid to add meta description. Keep it simple and that it is relevant to your blog post.
Gain Different SERPs Just By Updating Content
By following these steps you provide your site with steps you need to increase traffic and appear on the first page of Google but also to target a featured snippet ranking.
Even if a blog post does not end up as a featured snippet you have the opportunity of ranking for related search terms and even other snippets you may not have known would be an option.