Featured Snippets

June 6, 2019

Back in May 2019, I started looking into featured snippets.

It all started when I noticed one of my "Best X for Y" articles was ranking on page 1.

I could hardly contain my excitement when I typed in the target keyword into Google and found my site sitting pretty in the featured snippet section.

So you might be wondering, what is a featured snippet?

It's basically a special "answer" box highlighted in the search results for "question" type queries.

For example, "Who is...?", "What is...?", "Why did...?", etc.

Featured Snippet Example

It's helpful to understand why Google is focusing on featured snippets.

A study by Ahrefs showed that ~12% of all search queries have a featured snippet.

I'm willing to bet that % will continue to increase...

Here's why.

Mobile. (and Voice)

We already know that mobile traffic has surpassed desktop traffic.

And voice search is potentially the next frontier ("Okay Google", "Hey Siri", "Hey Cortana").

The fact is, traditional search results are not well-suited for mobile and voice search.

That's where featured snippets come in.

It provides the short "answer" to the user's question.

It's highlighted at the top of the search results above organic competitors but below paid ads.

This is what Google Assistant, Siri, or Cortana reads out to you after a voice search.

Okay, so the best part?

My take is that featured snippets provides an opportunity for smaller sites (like mine) to "win" more competitive keywords.

As keywords get more competitive, it starts to get really crowded on the front page.

Featured snippets are a way to "catapult" your site over the competition to position #0.

You can beat high domain authority competitors with thousands of links and millions of monthly visitors. Under normal circumstances, it might be next-to-impossible to beat these guys.

But with featured snippets, it's possible... if you optimize correctly for it. But first, you'll want to make sure you're on page 1 first as 99% of featured snippets are taken from there.

I've read a few articles on optimizing for featured snippets and I'd boil it down to this:

  • Answer the "question" as concisely as you can (40-50 words is great)
  • Include the "question" as a heading (H2, H3) just before the answer (Q&A style)
  • Include keyword variations where possible in your answer (these are the bolded words that show up in Google search results)
  • Iterate. A lot of trial-and-error is required before you hit on something that works

It's also a good idea to evaluate why your competitor is getting a featured snippet and not you. Then replicate what they're doing right in your own content.

I'll try to keep this post as current as possible as I learn more about featured snippets.

Do you have any tips on featured snippets?

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