What is a Featured Snippet?

Adam

26th February, 2021


7 min

greg

The first stage when looking into featured snippets is to understand exactly what a featured snippet is. A featured snippet is defined as a short block of content that appears at the top of Google’s organic search results for certain search terms. Featured snippets are used to provide the user with an immediate answer to their query, or to provide a brief overview to assist the user in what they may be looking for.

Often referred to as “Position #0” in the SEO world due to it appearing above all other listings, featured snippets are thought to increase CTR (click-through rate) and drive traffic to your site.Take a look at the benefits of featured snippetsfor more info on this.

The text used within a featured snippet is automatically pulled from relevant web pages in the organic listings, from content that Google sees as relevant to the search query. Although often unpredictable, there are ways that you can optimise your web pages to increase the chances of gaining a featured snippet. Take a look at the how to optimise for featured snippet section of this article for more on this.

The Different Types of Featured Snippets

Featured Snippets can come in a variety of different styles, depending on the search query. Google will identify what it thinks is the best way to display the content and will determine which featured snippet is best. The 4 most common types of featured snippets are:

  • Text – A block of text, often 40-60 words long giving a brief definition, intro or overview to the search query.

  • Ordered List – often used for step-by-step guides, this featured snippet provides the first few items of a numbered list.

  • Unordered List – this method pulls in a bullet-pointed list, that does not need to be in any order or ranking.

  • Table – Google uses data from a page and displays it as a table, often seen for things like measurements or size charts when more than one variable is needed.

 

With over 95% of all digital experiences starting with a search engine, it is more important than ever to ensure your brand is ranking at the top of organic search listings. Featured snippets can give your listing that extra boost you need to bring your audience onto your site. Here’s a few benefits (and maybe just one negative) of obtaining featured snippets:

  • Increase CTR

It is estimated that more than a quarter of all users click on the first organic listing in Google, that’s a massive 25%+ CTR! A listing which ranks first in Google is 10x more likely to receive a click compared to a listing which ranks in the #10 position. Therefore, if you’re not at the top of organic search for your target keywords, you could be missing out on a lot of potential customers.

  • Increase Organic Traffic

With increased CTR comes increased Organic Traffic. The more users you have clicking on your listing, the more users you get visiting your website and the more potential leads/sales you could be getting.

  • Take up Space

Featured Snippets enables your organic listing to stand out a lot more in Google, taking up valuable real estate on SERPs. A user can’t help but find their eyes being drawn towards your featured snippet listing, increasing your chances of gaining a click.

  • Show Knowledge

With Google automatically pulling out relevant information into featured snippets from the web page, this is a great opportunity to give an intro into what the page is going to be showing. If your content is knowledgeable, shows expertise and answers the question or query, it will make the user much more likely to click on your listing.

  • Zero-Click searches

Now here is one of the few possible negatives of featured snippets, and something we call in the SEO world a “zero-click search”. This is Google’s way of trying to provide the user with an immediate answer to their question without having to click on any listings. Often displayed as a featured snippet, Google will often pull the relevant answer from a web page, display it on the search listing and the user will have the answer they were looking for without having to click on anything. Not great for CTR, but nevertheless the chances of getting that click are still much higher if it’s your listing being used, so it is still worth trying to optimise for the featured snippet.

How to Optimise for Featured Snippets

Although there is no definitive way of obtaining featured snippets, there are several ways you can optimise your content to increase your chances of gaining them. Here’s our 4 step method to optimising for featured snippets:

  • Identify what searches contain a featured snippet

The first step of optimising for featured snippets is to understand what search terms currently have a featured snippet. This is again an automatic process from Google, so it can be hard to predict without manually searching and checking. SEO tools such as SEMRush & Ahrefs enable you to quickly see what search terms relevant to your brand are using featured snippets.

  • Ensure you’re ranking in the top 3 organic listings already

As normal with SEO, you need to ensure your pages are optimised as best as they can be to be ranking at the top of SERPs. Be realistic with what featured snippets you are targeting, as if you are not ranking in the first few listings, it’s unlikely you will be able to get the featured snippet.

  • Identify what type of featured snippet is being used

The next step is to understand what style of featured snippet is being used for the search term you are targeting. As we’ve touched on above, there are several different ways featured snippets are displayed, depending on how Google wants to display the content. It is important that you are aware of what style is currently being used so that you can optimise your web page to match this.

  • Optimise your content accordingly

So you’ve found out what search term uses a featured snippet, you are ranking in the top 3 for this but want to steal the featured snippet from your competitor and you know what type of featured snippet is being used. Great! Now it’s time to optimise your web page accordingly to increase your chances.

If, for example, the snippet you are targeting contains an ordered list and your web page doesn’t currently have an ordered list, this could be reducing your chances of gaining it. Consider trying to match the style of content already being used to give yourself more chance of Google pulling this through as a featured snippet.

Conclusion

So there we have it, my guide to featured snippets. There’s no doubt in any SEOer’s mind that featured snippets are the ultimate goal in organic search, and come with a wealth of benefits to any brand. As always with SEO work, it can take a bit of trial and error to obtain these rankings, but the work will all be worth it when you see that CTR going through the roof!

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