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You will undoubtedly agree that it is becoming increasingly hard to build and maintain organic traffic from Google.
Besides the stiff competition, Google now uses more than its ten blue links, and the traditional organic search results do not generate exciting traffic like in the past.
You may wonder, how do you adapt to match the changes? Google-featured snippets could be the answer. Most SEO experts aim to have featured snippets for their blogs, allowing your content to occupy position zero.
This article will educate you on optimizing your content so that Google can generate a featured snippet for it.
But first, let’s define it.
If you are a beginner to blogging, I encourage you to read this article about 11 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid (And Increase your success!)
What Are Featured Snippets?
Featured snippets are Google’s selected search results that prominently appear in a special box on the first position of organic results just below the ads. They are called answer boxes because they directly answer the user’s questions.
Consider Google’s definition of featured snippets:
If you want to read the complete article with the answer to the specific question you asked, you can click on the featured snippet’s URL.
Several sites dramatically improved their organic visibility and traffic when this feature was launched. The playing ground positively tipped, giving these sites two results on the first SERPs’ page.
However, like many SEO features, featured snippets may not always benefit your site. Consider this revelation from Danny Sullivan:
Some content writers and websites think that the only way to optimize featured snippets is to include questions in their blog title headers and sub-headers. However, more is required.
That takes us to the type of featured snippet you can optimize for.
You might also enjoy reading this article: 14 Free Blogging Tools for Beginners (And how to use them)
Types Of Featured Snippets
Before you can think of ways to optimize for featured snippets, it is essential that you know the types available.
1- Paragraph-Featured Snippets
Paragraph-featured snippets are the most popular type, where the answer is given in the text (approximately 42 and 250 characters). An image sometimes accompanies the text.
Here is an example:
Tip: Although you can use different question types, the “what” question is often highly searched; however, you will need to include keywords with low keyword difficulty scores.
2- Listicle Featured Snippets
The list featured snippets are where the answer is provided in a list form. The list often contains a maximum of 6 items and around 44 words.
This type of featured snippet is mainly generated from the “How” and “Why” keyword questions.
3- Table Featured Snippets
They can carry an average of two columns and five rows with words ranging from 40 to 45.
If you want to optimize table-featured snippets, create relevant content in a table format using HTML table tags.
4- The Video Featured Snippets
They form 4.6% of the total featured snippets and often average 6: 35 minutes in length. Consider this example
Before we get into the steps, remember that Google provides featured snippets to excellent web pages. So, ensure your content is good enough to rank on Google’s top results page.
You cannot request them since they entirely rely on Google algorithms. If you want your site to have featured snippets, you can only employ various SEO strategies to improve your chances, but there is no guarantee.
How Can You Maximize Your Chances Of Earning Featured Snippets?
Consider this step-by-step guide for increasing your chances of earning featured snippets.
Step 1: Look For Keyword Queries With Featured Snippets In Your Niche
You can also search them manually, but it could even be more daunting because there are a few queries with snippets.
Google provides snippets for instructive or informative queries. So, if you have general, commercial, or action-intent content, you will not get featured snippets.
Featured snippets are also given for queries with high search volume and traffic. The search engine wants to provide quick solutions to many internet users, meaning low-interest questions are unlikely to ear snippets.
So, your first task is to audit your target keywords and those used in your industry. Your interest should be in the keywords that have featured snippets.
You can get the keywords with snippets by clicking on the drop-down arrow in Semrush next to the selected keyword to see more information about them.
Now, collect these keywords and their related questions on your calendar or google doc.
Step 2: Know The Search Intent
When optimizing for featured snippets, it is essential that you understand the search intent behind the keywords and queries you want to use.
Who searches for keywords?
- Potential customers
- Influencers who can sway potential customers’ buying decisions
- Your competitors
You want to focus on the first two groups as you write your content. These groups are often interested in informational content when surfing the internet.
The search intent for featured snippets can further be divided into four categories according to what customers want. This could include:
- A brief answer
- A specific answer
- A video
- A comparison
A brief answer: The user is looking for a paragraph or a list of featured snippets, but if they want more information, they will likely click on the URL. This snippet will enhance your brand reputation and your CTR.
A specific answer: This featured spinet provides a specific answer to a search query. They often have low CTR since users may not need to read further for more information.
It will unlikely drive traffic to your site even if you rank higher on Google search results.
Consider this example:
Comparisons: These search queries have a featured snippet with a table and are likely to boost the CTR.
Video: User searching for “how-to” answers will likely benefit from a video snippet, giving the site maximum CTR.
Understanding different informational search intents behind specific queries can help you plan how to optimize your content.
Step 3: Conduct a Competitive Analysis
You also need to understand your competitors and how they use keywords to optimize for featured snippets.
So, if you use SEMrush, open its SEO template tool and key in your competitor’s content topic or keyword. Select your desired location and search by clicking the green button.
SEMrush will provide you with several recommendations that you can use to optimize your content for featured snippets.
Here is what SEMrush will give you:
- Top ten competitors that are targeting the exact keywords, allowing you to know who you are up against.
- Recommendations on what your content should have, including readability, backlinks, and text length.
- Analyzing how your competitors use the target keywords enables you to use them better.
- SEO recommendations to improve your content and make them search-friendly.
Step 4: Create Or Update Your Content Outline
Now that you have the topics, targeted keywords, SEO recommendations from the competition, type of featured snippets, and search intent, it is time to create stellar content.
However, if you have already written pieces, you could re-engineer your outline using the above information.
Step 5: Ensure Your Content Is Of High Quality Than The Competition
Your content should have the following:
- Basic information users seek based on their search query and intent.
- Include rich media, statistical data, visuals, examples, and pointers if the competition has not used these items.
- Use simple and short sentences to enhance your content readability.
- Ensure research, not opinions, support your content.
In a nutshell, aim for the best content that users find relevant for years.
A good example is the content below.
Tip: Proofread your content to ensure it meets optimization goals- it solves the users’ problems, uses target keywords in appropriate places, and defines user intent.
Step 6: Ensure Your Content Is Organized To Suit Readers And Search Engines
Search engines and your readers would love well-organized content because it is easy to scan through and understand.
So how do you organize your content? Have headers to separate content according to importance, as shown below:
Step 7: Use Relevant Images
Images are valuable in earning featured snippets, especially list and paragraph featured snippets.
You can use custom-made or real-life images instead of free stock images to avoid appearing generic. Some users may pogo stick your content because you use stock photos.
Step 8: Don’t Forget SEO Tactics
Some things never change in content writing, and SEO is one of them. So, ensure you follow SEO rules, including:
- Optimized title tag: You can use Headline Analyzer to include emotion and power words on the blog title.
- Perfect URL structure: Ensure your URLs are short and include your keywords.
- Heading tags- include a question in your header if possible
- Meta description tag: Write a user-centric meta description, including keywords to encourage clicks and traffic.
- Internal links: Internal links help Google to connect your site’s valuable pages.
- External links: External links tell Google sites you trust, and it also helps validate your content.
- Image Alt: Ensure your graphics has descriptive alt text, which helps Google understand them.
- Link building: Enhance your site’s authority by building links through guest posting and conducting an industry case study.
Step 9: Continue Optimizing Your Content To Earn a Featured Snippet
Your site will improve if you continue updating your content by following the steps above.
Your hard work will pay off with high impressions, CTR in Google Search Console, rankings, visibility, and traffic.
Featured snippets are a creation of Google algorithms for high-performing web pages. The content should directly answer user queries and its intent to be included in the featured snippets.
However, you need to please Google gods with high-quality content and fully optimize it. Additionally, you want to ensure that your content is user-centric; otherwise, Google will remove the snippet.
What optimization technique do you think increases your chances of earning featured snippets?
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