Read any “Top SEO Trends in 2021” type article and you’ll find that featured snippets make almost every list. In fact, featured snippets SEO has been highly talked about for the last several years after it was introduced in 2014. There are now thousands of resources created to help you in this area if you’re a DIY type online marketer.
However, if this hasn’t been on your radar yet, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this quick featured snippets guide. It will help you to understand how featured snippets work and how they may improve your SEO efforts and rankings.
Featured Snippets SEO – 30 Second Summary:
- Featured snippets are short pieces of text at the top of Google results – also called Answer Boxes.
- Listed as a top SEO trend in 2021 and are shown for an estimated 6-8% of search queries (this is down from as high as 23% of search queries in early 2018).
- They can help boost visibility and brand authority, and are extremely mobile friendly and voice search friendly.
- Sometimes they can be easier to claim than trying to rank #1 for a keyword term.
What Are Featured Snippets?
Featured snippets are short pieces of text that appear at the top of Google search results that quickly answer a searcher’s query. We often refer to featured snippets in Google search as “answer boxes” because they are just that – an answer box at the top of a search engine results pages (SERPs).
Google says that they choose to display featured snippets when they deem this format helps people more easily discover what they are looking for – both on the search page itself and when they click on the link to the website with the featured snippet.
Google also says featured snippets are especially useful for mobile or when searching by voice.
Snippet Types & Examples
There are three common types of featured snippets you’ll find appearing:
1. Paragraph Featured Snippet
These are the most popular featured snippets type you will see and represent about 82%* of the answer boxes. Paragraph featured snippets typically answer Who Is, What Is, and Why Is type questions.
2. Numbered and Bullet List Featured Snippets –
You will see numbered and bulleted lists representing about 11%* of featured snippets. List featured snippets typically answer How To and How Do I type questions along with Ranks, Best Of, Feature, DIY, and Recipe type searches.
3. Table Featured Snippets
These type of featured snippets represent only 7% of feature snippet results. Table featured snippets and are common for Lists, Pricing Rates, and Data specific searches.
*As per Search Engine Journal, July 31, 2020
Featured Snippet vs Rich Snippet– What’s the Difference?
You may come across these terms used interchangeably but there is a key difference between a featured snippet and a rich snippet.
Essentially, a featured snippet is a type of rich snippet (result).
Featured Snippet – An answer to a query that appears above the all-other organic search results in what the industry refers to in “position zero.” Furthermore, Google differentiates its featured snippets by the fact that the snippet describing the page comes before the link to the page. This is opposite of the standard format you’ll find in regular results.
Rich Snippet – An enhanced organic search result shown beside a website, such as review rating or site links. Check out our recently updated article on SERP Features to see 13 different examples of rich snippets that apply to most businesses like yours.
Are Featured Snippets Paid or Free?
This is another point of confusion among many of our clients and it’s a common Google search too.
Google featured snippets are free – currently the only way to obtain a featured snippet is through good old SEO. That is, establishing yourself as the best answer and having the information accessible so that Google can pull your website into its answer box.
How Does Google Choose Who to Feature?
If you can’t pay for a Featured Snippet, how does Google choose which website to show?
Google says they use their automated system to determine whether a result would provide a good answer in the form of a featured snippet for a specific search request. If your web page is in Google’s index then in theory it is eligible to be shown for a featured snippet.
Google is also the one to determine if a featured snippet result provides the best user experience for its searchers. As of early 2021, an estimated 6-8% of search queries trigger a featured snippet result.
This is actually down from as high as 23% of searches in early 2018. Industry data analysts have watched the significant drop and up-and-down fluctuations. The general consensus is that featured snippets will not be as prominent as they once were but are still important.
Will Featured Snippets SEO Matter to My Website Strategy?
So, if featured snippets seem to be less prominent than they once were do they still matter? The answer is, it depends.
There are several types of clients who can benefit from featured snippets SEO:
- Websites with an established SEO strategy and good rankings, and looking for opportunities to increase click-throughs and SERP exposures.
- Websites with an established Content Marketing Strategy with plenty of content or answers ready to be properly formatted for inclusion in featured snippets.
- Websites representing industry leading brands or organizations who are focusing on brand awareness and visibility.
- Websites in an industry with higher numbers of featured snippets results such as health, finance, law and government, family and community, and beautify and personal care.
As a side note, it’s not uncommon for us to see some of our smaller local clients who are doing everything right with SEO get included in featured snippets. It’s quite exciting when we see them outrank some high profile and credible sources in their respective industry with their featured snippet answers.
The Verdict – Is it Good or Bad?
- Featured snippets SEO can indeed get you more visibility as they occupy more space and are the first thing a searcher sees. In most cases the searcher doesn’t have to even scroll to see your answer or website link.
- The biggest benefit is that a featured snippets help establish your brand authority. Google has picked you as the “best” or highest authority to answer the question and searchers trust your answer as fact.
- Featured snippets are extremely voice search friendly in that devices like Alexa and Siri will usually grab their answer from a featured snippet.
- It provide a shortcut to top organic position. You don’t always have to have a #1 organic ranking in order to win with Featured Snippets. In fact, it can be much easier to earn the coveted Featured Snippet top spot than the #1 organic spot if you do it right!
- While some may argue that featured snippets are zero-click (meaning the searcher may find their answer in Google and never click to your website), one Ahrefs click study showed that featured snippets do get 8.6% of clicks verses the 19.6% of clicks the #1 organic ranking page gets.
- The competition can be great making it very tough to get a featured snippet, especially since Google tends to pull from large informational websites like Wikipedia.
- Google launched a featured snippet deduplication in January 2020, which means that when your page earns a featured snippet spot your regular search result could be pushed further down the page.
How Do I Get a Featured Snippet on Google?
The exact method on how to get a featured snippet on Google goes beyond the scope of this article.
Featured snippet SEO can be time consuming with a lot of trial and error, as well as following a very specific format Google wants to find (list, bullet, table, etc.) so that it can easily pull your information into its answer box.
You will also need to do careful keyword research to determine if the keyword you’re aiming to get a featured snippet for already has a featured snippet. If there is no featured snippet you need to assess whether the keyword you’re aiming for has the potential to show a featured snippet.
If you are interested in winning a featured snippet you can check out a few of these industry leading SEO experts for their explanations:
- 9 Tips for Ranking in Google’s Featured Snippets by Neil Patel
- How to Optimize for Google’s Featured Snippets by Ahrefs
Or you can save yourself the time and effort and contact our SEO experts about featured snippets SEO!
How to Follow Content Best Practices for Featured Snippets SEO!
The good news is that in general, many of the best practices for writing and optimizing powerful SEO content apply to trying to get your website shown in a featured snippet:
- Target long-tail keywords that are questions – go to Google’s “People Always Ask” section for ideas.
- Use a Q&A style format.
- Provide a clear unique answer to the question in your text.
- Create authoritative cues on the page and across your entire website.
- Add high quality images to the page.
- Keep content informative and up to date.
- Provide more in-depth answers than websites that may be outranking you.
So regardless of whether you make your way into a featured snippet or not, your content will be well optimized for Search Engines and for your visitors.
Need Help With Featured Snippets SEO?
At 1st on the List we are experienced in exhaustive keyword research and developing winning content strategies in order to maximize your SEO impact. Featured snippets SEO can help get your website shown more often and in higher profile positions and formats.