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Why you should renew your efforts to get ‘featured snippets’

I thought I’d return to the subject of ‘featured snippets’ in Google results, as they’re continuing to be incredibly productive for several of our clients who have tackled the opportunity with enthusiasm. To recap, featured snippets are the full explanations Google puts up in the results for search queries that it thinks are wanting a definition as the answer. Something like this, for example.

Most featured snippets are effectively a normal Google result, but with a longer description, larger text and presented in a boxed panel. There are also versions with bullet point lists and even some with an image. They are attainable by anyone, and catapult you up to the top of the page in an even more prominent way than if you had the normal top position. Clickthrough rate is correspondingly higher than even the normal top position, and if you get a few of them, I’ve seen a site’s search engine traffic doubled.

Studies suggest that – unexpectedly – most search queries which trigger featured snippets are not questions. I suspect, however, that they’re shortcuts to something which could have been asked as a question, like the example above.

How do I find out what Featured Snippets I have?
There are paid for SEO tools which can do this, but a manual method is to use Google Search Console to see which searches are bringing visits to your site. Any search queries which are featured snippets will have notable traffic, and you can investigate with your own Google search.

Most people’s first question is: can I really get these? The answer is a qualified yes: research shows that it’s unlikely your page will be displayed as a featured snippet unless you’re already on the first page for a similar query. But even if you’re not, the process of trying to get one of these should give you an improved ranking which you can then work on. For that reason, I’d start the process of encouraging featured snippets by looking at searches for which you already rank well. You can get these from Google Search Console (Search Traffic > Search Analytics, and select “Position”). A useful next step can be to use the ‘filter’ on ‘Queries’ to identify searches with words like ‘how’ or ‘why’ in them. Then take a look at the actual search results and see if you’re a well-placed result but without a ‘featured snippet’ presentation.

This is just a start though. The best ideas will come from your own industry experience. What other relevant questions for your technology can you come up with? Remember, you’re looking for ones where you probably already appear in the first page of results, but don’t really answer the question head-on. What you then need to do is either to amend the existing page appearing in the results, or create a new page, so that it does answer the question. Updating the existing page is preferable and easier, but be careful you’re adding quality and not hurting anything else which has been working well.

What Google is after is the question, and a concise, one-paragraph answer (or a multi-paragraph answer where the first one summarises everything and stands alone). The question doesn’t have to be the title of the page, although that may be worth trying. Google loves lists and numbers too. A page can answer more than question, separately or together. Indeed, a page of FAQs with concise answers after each can score in many different searches.