As the world of SEO continues to evolve, it’s crucial for businesses to keep up with the latest trends and techniques to ensure that their websites are visible and easily accessible to users. One of the most important developments in recent years is the rise of Featured Snippets and zero-click searches, which have changed the way people discover information online.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what Google Featured Snippets and zero-click searches are, how to rank for a Featured Snippet, the different types of Featured Snippets, how to get a Featured Snippet for SEO, how to steal Featured Snippets, the downsides of Featured Snippets, and the difference between a Rich Snippet and a Featured Snippet.
Over the past five years, we have had a lot of experience with Featured Snippets, working across a wide range of industries both here in New Zealand and overseas. We have seen the potential value of acquiring Features Snippets for high-volume keywords.
From our own experience, we have not seen the negative side of acquiring a Featured Snippet which is covered in more detail below, however, that’s not to say that all Featured Snippets are created equal and deliver the same value to every business.
What is a Google Featured Snippet?
A Google Featured Snippet is a summary of the content on a web page that appears at the top of the search results. Featured Snippets aim to provide users with quick and accurate answers to their search queries without the need to click through to a website.
Featured Snippets are displayed in a separate box above the regular search results, and they typically include a summary of the content, along with an image, table, or other multimedia elements that add visual interest and make the information easier to understand.
According to Google “Featured snippets are special boxes where the format of a regular search result is reversed, showing the descriptive snippet first. They can also appear within a related questions group (also known as “People Also Ask”).”
What is a zero-click search result?
A zero-click search result is a type of search result that provides users with the information they need directly on the search engine results page (SERP). This means that users can find the information they need without having to click through to a website.
Zero-click search results can take many forms, including Featured Snippets, Knowledge Panels, and Instant Answers. By providing users with the information they need directly on the SERP, zero-click search results save time and make it easier for users to find the information they need quickly and easily.
This comes back to the point we made in the introduction. Featured Snippets and other forms of zero-click search results are changing the way people discover information on search rather than changing the way they actually search.
The most obvious example of this that has been around for years is the weather. In days gone by, we would visit our favourite weather website (for me, it was always the BBC in the UK) to find out the forecast for the day or the days ahead. Today, we can find that information directly from the SERPs without having to visit a website.
Whilst some people will still have their favourite weather websites, this has undoubtedly had a negative impact on websites that are dedicated to delivering weather news.
How to rank for a Google Featured Snippet
If you want to rank for a Google Featured Snippet, you need to create content that is relevant, informative, and easy to understand. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the different types of content that rank well in Featured Snippets:
Step 1: Identify the right keywords – Before you start creating content, you need to identify the keywords that you want to rank for. Look for long-tail keywords that are specific to your niche and have a high search volume. You can also use tools like Stat to identify keywords that deliver a Featured Snippet in the SERP. This makes it much easier to identify potential keywords to target where it might be possible to acquire a Featured Snippet.
Step 2: Create high-quality content – The content you create needs to be high-quality, informative, and easy to understand. Make sure that you cover the topic in-depth and use clear, concise language that is easy for readers to follow.
As you will see from the list of Featured Snippet types below, there are also ways to format your content to give you the best possible chance of “stealing” a Featured Snippet from an existing website. A key part of the process is to research the type of content already ranking for a Featured Snippet you are targeting and ensure you format your own content in a similar way as this is the format Google has decided best meets the needs of the searcher.
Step 3: Use structured data – Structured data helps search engines understand the content on your website, making it easier for them to feature your content in a Featured Snippet. Use structured data markup to highlight key information in your content, such as product reviews, recipes, or events. As you will see, using lists, both ordered and unordered, can also really help you to format your content in a way that is friendly for users and Google.
Step 4: Optimise your content for Featured Snippets – To optimise your content for Featured Snippets, use short, concise sentences, bullet points, and tables to make the information easy to read and understand. Make sure that your content answers the user’s question clearly and concisely.
Types of Featured Snippets
There are several different types of Featured Snippets, each of which is designed to provide users with a different type of information. Here are some of the most common types of Featured Snippets:
- Paragraph Snippets – Paragraph Snippets are the most common type of Featured Snippet. They typically appear as a short summary of the content on a web page, along with an image or other visual element that adds context and visual interest. Creating bespoke graphics can help with your acquisition of a Featured Snippet as the visual element can support your paragraph of content that is displayed in the Featured Snippet.
- List Snippets – List Snippets are another popular type of Featured Snippet. They provide users with a numbered or bulleted list of information that is relevant to their search query. Adding lists to your existing content to make a specific point can really help to target a Featured Snippet and is a crucial part of the research process to understand where Google already prioritises list content in a Featured Snippet.
- Table Snippets – Table Snippets provide users with a table of information that is relevant to their search query. This type of Featured Snippet is particularly useful for queries that involve comparing products, prices, or other types of information.
- Video Snippets – Video Snippets provide users with a video that is relevant to their search query. This type of Featured Snippet is particularly useful for queries that involve instructional content or demonstrations.
How do I get a Featured Snippet for SEO?
If you want to get a Featured Snippet for SEO, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of being featured. Here are some tips:
- Keyword research – Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush or Stat to identify long-tail keywords that are relevant to your niche and have a high search volume. Use Stat to identify if there is already a Featured Snippet displaying for a particular query and narrow down the keywords you are targeting.
- Create highly relevant, high-quality content – Create content that is informative, well-researched, and easy to understand. Make sure that your content provides a clear and concise answer to the user’s question. We have already touched on this, however, it is such an important aspect of acquiring a Featured Snippet.
- Use schema markup – Use structured data markup to highlight key information in your content, such as product reviews, recipes, or events.
- Optimise your content for the right type of Featured Snippet – Use short, concise sentences, bullet points, and tables to make the information easy to read and understand. Make sure that your content provides a clear and concise answer to the user’s question and match your content to the content that already ranks for the Snippet you are targeting i.e. if a table is shown in the Featured Snippet, be sure to include one in your own content.
How do you steal Featured Snippets?
If you want to steal Featured Snippets from your competitors, there are several strategies you can use. Here are some tips:
- Analyse your competitor’s content – Analyse your competitor’s content to identify the gaps in their coverage. Look for opportunities to create content that is more informative or more comprehensive.
- Create content that is 10x better than the existing content – This might be an old-school metric created by Moz, however, it’s one we like to work towards. Websites that already rank for a Featured Snippet have the upper hand so it is up to you to create something that is significantly better than that existing content.
- Promote your content – Promote your content through social media, email marketing, and other channels to increase its visibility and attract links. Increasing the overall relevance of your own content piece and improving the page authority of the target page can help you to demonstrate to Google that your content piece deserves to rank in the Featured Snippet.
What are the downsides of Featured Snippets?
While Featured Snippets can be a great way to increase your visibility and attract more traffic to your website, there are also some downsides to consider. Here are some of the most significant downsides:
- Reduced click-through rates – Because Featured Snippets provide users with the information they need directly on the SERP, they can reduce click-through rates to your website.
- Limited branding opportunities – Featured Snippets provide very limited branding opportunities, which can make it harder to build brand recognition and awareness.
- Unanswered questions – Because Featured Snippets only provide a brief summary of the content on your website, users may still have unanswered questions that they need to click through to your website to answer. This can be a source of frustration, however, it can also be helpful in driving more visitors to your website from organic.
What is the difference between a Rich Snippet and a Featured Snippet?
A Rich Snippet is a type of structured data markup that provides search engines with additional information about the content on your website. Rich Snippets can include information like reviews, ratings, and pricing information, and they can help improve your visibility and click-through rates.
A Featured Snippet, on the other hand, is a summary of the content on your website that appears at the top of the search results. Featured Snippets are designed to provide users with quick and accurate answers to their search queries without the need to click through to a website.
In summary, Featured Snippets and zero-click searches have become essential for businesses looking to optimise their website’s visibility and attract more traffic. By understanding how Featured Snippets work and how to optimise your content for them, you can increase your chances of being featured and attracting more traffic to your website.
While there are some downsides to Featured Snippets, such as reduced click-through rates and limited branding opportunities, the benefits of being featured are generally seen as outweighing the drawbacks. By following the tips and strategies outlined in this post, you can optimise your content for Featured Snippets and increase your visibility on the SERP.
In conclusion, Featured Snippets and zero-click searches are likely to continue to be important topics in the world of SEO in 2023 and beyond. By understanding how they work and how to optimise your content for them, you can increase your chances of being featured and attracting more traffic to your website.
Remember to create high-quality content that is informative, well-researched, and easy to understand, and use structured data markup to highlight key information in your content. With the right approach, you can successfully optimise your content for Featured Snippets and zero-click searches and achieve greater visibility and success in the world of SEO.