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If you are in the cut-throat SEO space, you have to keep up, or you’ll be thrown out of the elite league very quickly. To keep thriving, or even to just survive in this highly competitive and ever-changing world, you must keep adapting constantly.
And no, the only reason for this is not that all the low-hanging fruits have been plucked. The rules are always changing, and the older ways of doing SEO are just not as effective in driving the kind of organic traffic you had gotten used to.
Bonus Point – While you are at it, do not underestimate the power of SSL in your SEO efforts. Make sure you have a cost effective security solution like Comodo SSL certificate installed on your website to increase customer confidence, provide safety to your users and not get penalized by search engines for not using HTTPS.
And now, the new kid on the block is “Featured Snippets” that everyone wants to acquire a spot on, so they can boost their organic traffic.
Let us see what featured snippets are what you can do to acquire them to boost the traffic you get from search engines.
What are featured snippets?
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Featured snippets are search query responses that are displayed prominently in a box placed below the ads and above the organic search results (as shown in above image). Google featured snippets are typically displayed in response to searches that are in the form of questions – such as the ones beginning with how, when, what, why, who, where, etc. They may also be shown for queries that do not use the typical “question asking” formats but serve what Google calls “People also ask” related questions that may be of interest to the search user.
Google uses organic listings (mostly grabbed from the search results that rank on the first page) to gather the information to be displayed in these snippets. The whole purpose of offering featured snippets is to ease the life of the searcher, so they do not have to visit the website to find what they need – a lot of people call it “answer boxes” for this very reason.
Featured snippets are typically composed of information summarized in the shape of a table, list, paragraph, or video, accompanied by a link to the page the answers were extracted from.
What is the benefit of being part of featured snippets?
You better pay attention. Featured snippets on Google are an excellent way of jumping to the front of the queue for SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and get to position #1 (Google discontinue Zero position). Now, don’t you want the extra brand exposure and the increased traffic?
A lot of websites have reported a massive rise in revenues that results from the increased organic traffic when the web page is displayed on a featured snippet – it simply enhances your CTR (click-through rate). Not only that, featured snippets stealing traffic from it.
So, if you have been struggling to fight your competition who rules the SERPs, here is your chance to snatch the top spot organically – get on the featured snippets.
Do you stand a chance to rank on a featured snippet?
If you already enjoy being ranked on the first page of search results, there is a good possibility of you landing a spot on a featured snippet.
Simply put, your web page will find it easier to find a place on featured snippets if you already figure on the first page of the SERPs, even if you are not the top spot holder. So, can you get on a Google featured snippet without improving your overall SEO rank? Sadly, no. There is no shortcut.
The good thing is it is not very hard to get featured. Let us say you are at the number 8 position for a keyword you target, it will take a lot of work to make it to the top spot. However, if you can get into a featured snippet, you will jump to rank #0 by adjusting the contents of your page a bit.
What are the different kinds of featured snippets?
Here are the various forms of featured snippets:
This is the most common of all kinds of featured snippets. Here, Google just pulls the textual content from a web page while trying to answer the question the searcher may be looking for.
Paragraph snippets are usually presented for questions such as “Who is”, “Why is”, “How to”, etc.
The danger here is that the user may get all the information they are looking for from the snippet and may not visit your website – this may lead to loss of a business. So, you have to be tactical.
To get featured, you must provide an immediate and concise answer. However, try to include extra information to arouse the reader’s curiosity to encourage them to visit our web page.
2. Numbered List
This kind of featured snippet lists out the instructions or steps explaining how to achieve something. The numbered list featured snippets provide the user with an instant cue that the page will offer them a step-by-step process.
These kinds of featured snippets are typically used for things such as:
- DIY (Do it yourself) tasks
- “How to” questions
Create lists with more than 8 lines, so Google has to truncate the information presented in the snippet – this will pull the users to your website to get the remaining information.
3. Bulleted List
The bulleted list featured snippets are typically taken from articles that list things or rank them.
These are often used to show:
- “Best of” lists
- Ranked items
- Unranked items
Here as well, try making lists longer than 8 items to pull more visitors.
The table featured list provides a lot of flexibility, since tables can have a varying number of columns. Often times, Google will pull just the information it finds useful from your page and create a table of its own to answer the query.
These snippets are typically presented for:
Size matters here as well – ensure that such tables on your page exceed 4 rows, so the users are forced to visit your page for additional information.
Google also uses YouTube for the purpose of featured snippets – optimized titles and descriptions on your YouTube videos will help you find a spot here. Google may sometimes show a clip from your video or display the text from the description of your video.
YouTube featured snippets are typically used for:
- DIY tasks
- Answers best demonstrated by videos
- “How to” questions
Combined featured snippets are created by pulling information from multiple websites. Common scenarios for these are when Google decides to pull information from one page but thinks that another website may have a better image to fit the context.
So, you can enhance the possibility of making it to this snippet by offering high-quality, useful images as part of your content.
How can you optimize your content to acquire featured snippets?
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Before we address the subject of optimizing your content for featured snippets, let us look at what queries trigger such snippets and the ones that do not.
Queries that do not result in featured snippets
Google does not typically show a featured snippet but rather shows other features for these kinds of queries:
- Simple facts
- Local queries
- Shopping searches
- Image queries
Queries that do result in featured snippets
Here are a few of the ways in which featured snippets are almost always triggered:
- Long-tail Keywords
- Specific words like recipe, best, vs, make, definition, list, can, get, etc.
Once you have made it to the first SERP for the keywords you target, there are 2 ways to enhance the possibility of making it to a featured snippet:
- Augment on-page SEO
- Offer better answers
Specifically, here is what you need to do:
1. Provide concise answers
Google seems to lean towards answers that do not go beyond a single paragraph. Additionally, these snippets have an average length of 46 words.
So, try to answer the questions immediately below your subheadings using a single concise paragraph. For best results, you may have to adjust your writing style to fit these guidelines:
- Pose a question on your page – typically in a subheading
- Provide a single paragraph answer (in about 50 words) right after that question
- Follow up with more details
Not only is this good for increasing your chances to get on a featured snippet, but it also improves the readability of your content.
Also, note that Google prefers content that is in a “long-form” (also called “cornerstone” or “pillar”) – a style that breaks the information into subsections and includes plentiful images.
2. Answer multiple similar questions on the same page
It has been widely observed that once a page finds a spot on a featured snippet on Google, the chances of it featuring for other related queries increase many folds. This is encouraging – it means that if you structure your pages to answer a lot of associated questions, you stand to gain from being included in many featured snippets.
It is a widely held view that when data is used to fuel creation of ideas, producing content turns into more of a resource management exercise and depends a lot less on brainstorming. Additionally, Google excels at identifying multiple phrases that may be asking the same question.
So, create articles that address the subject at hand in great detail and address multiple associated questions – this will enhance the possibility of your content being picked by Google for featured snippets.
3. Organize your facts and information
When it comes to Google featured snippets, note that tables and lists are the most preferred kinds of snippets after paragraphs. It has also been observed that comparison charts and ordered/unordered lists have a better chance of making it to featured snippets as Google prefers content that is structurally laid out. This is evident from the fact that Google sometimes extracts a relevant table from another website even when it is perfectly clear that the user is researching a specific brand.
So, do as much as you can in terms of listing names, numbers or steps.
4. Enrich your content with plentiful attention-grabbing images
A good number of featured snippets showcase an image, and the trend only seems to be gaining momentum. It is easy to see that snippets that include images are way more eye-catching than the ones that do not have any luring graphics.
Now, you cannot really influence Google into featuring a specific image – the best you can do is include a lot of appealing and marked images that may be associated with popular brands.
Note that snippets lean towards featuring 4:3 aspect ratio landscape images that have been search engine optimized.
If you are using a platform (such as WordPress) that includes dates as part of image URLs, make sure you update the graphics or reload them when you update your content – the reason being that Google favors content that has been recently created.
Acquiring a featured snippet is not as hard as it seems if you already enjoy page one SERP rankings. Use the tips in this article to maximize your chances of getting your spot and beat your competition at the SEO game. Increase your organic traffic by taking advantage of the higher CTR offered by featured snippets. And even if you are not on page one of search engine results yet, these suggestions will help you organize your content better and reap lots of ancillary benefits.