Has google ever provided you with an answer to a question at the very top of the search results? This featured section on Google is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site. Getting a snippet of content featured essentially puts your page at rank 0 since it’s placed before all the search results. If you want to learn more about Google’s featured snippets and how all this works I highly suggest checking out this article by Neil Patel.
Want to know something that would drive massive amounts of traffic to your website almost without fail?
Picture this scenario. You’ve written an article, let’s say about content marketing on a limited budget.
Someone searches for “how to do content marketing” on Google.
And they see this:
You’ve probably seen this little box before. It’s called a featured snippet.
I wrote an article on content marketing way back in 2014, before featured snippets were much of a thing.
Today, if you search for “how to do content marketing,” you’ll get that little list of tips extracted from my article.
Most SEOs want to get their site into position #1 (the first organic search result) on page 1. That’s the best possible position for a site to be in, right?
Well, if you get a featured snippet, you come before the first ranking. You’re in Position #0!
The advantages of a featured snippet are obvious: more clicks, more visibility, and a higher conversion rate. It’s an SEO’s dream!
Here’s what Google has to say about featured snippets: “When we recognize that a query asks a question, we programmatically detect pages that answer the user’s question, and display a top result as a featured snippet in the search results.”
How do you get a featured snippet? Well, the fact is, there’s no guaranteed method of getting your page into a featured snippet.
Google says that you can’t mark your page as a featured snippet. So you might as well cross your fingers and hope for the best, right?
Not at all. While Google doesn’t have an official process for applying for featured snippets, there’s a lot you can do to get your page in that spot.
Before we start, I should say that this is not a surefire method of getting a snippet. Unfortunately, the best you can do is optimizing your pages.
But think about it. You do a little extra work, and your chances of being featured go way up.
Google purposefully created the featured snippet to help people. So, if you excel at helping people, you could get in the snippet.
If your page gets a featured snippet, it will be the first result on the first page for your keyword(s). Only paid ads (if applicable) will be featured above it.
Search Engine Land analyzed one site featured in the snippet, and the results are astounding. The site had a 516 percent increase in sessions, and the conversion rate skyrocketed from 2 percent to 8 percent!
I don’t know about you, but that sounds enticing to me.
So if you’re interested, let’s talk about optimizing your content for the featured snippet.
Learn how I grew my traffic to 195,013 visitors a month by combining this Google’s SERP’s Featured Snippet strategy with 4 other SEO tactics.
First, answering questions is really important
Before we dive into the techniques of optimization, let’s talk about answering questions.
If your content doesn’t answer questions, it won’t get into the featured snippet. That’s all there is to it.
That’s because featured snippets are programmed to answer questions.
In short, Google’s algorithms find the page that seems to best answer the user’s question. That page is then displayed in the snippet to make the user’s life easier.
Let’s say you want to write an informational article about blog revenue. That will probably never make it into the featured snippet.
If you Google “blog revenue,” here’s what comes up:
There’s no featured snippet because there’s no possible way that the term could be construed as a question.
However, if we make one little change, the snippet pops up. Let’s try “increase blog revenue” instead:
The snippet pops up because the search term is implicitly asking how to increase blog revenue. One little word makes all the difference.
That’s why you have to understand what questions your target audience is asking.
Second, you want to find the right questions to answer
There are two ingredients to find the questions your readers are asking.
First, you’ll need a bit of knowledge about search queries. Stone Temple found that 19% of question-based search terms have their own featured snippets.
In other words, people are literally typing questions into Google. And answering questions is the whole point of the featured snippet.
Usually, that means that those search terms will include one of the following phrases:
These are the terms Hubspot used when it conducted its own analysis of featured snippets.
Think about these terms when researching your keywords (which we’ll get to in a minute). These are some of the most popular question terms, but don’t feel limited to these.
Some other terms you might consider:
These are just starting points. If you can think of a way to phrase a search query, then you can put it on your list.
At its core, question research is basically keyword research with these terms added onto the beginning.
So instead of researching “blog revenue,” you’re researching “how to increase blog revenue.”
Let’s use SEMrush with the question keyword “how to increase traffic to my blog.” Head over to SEMrush.com and type the keyword into the search bar:
Click Search, and you’ll see something like this:
One of my favorite parts of SEMrush is the Organic Search Results section. These results are different from what you’ll see on Google because they don’t include advertised links like these:
The Organic Search Results section will give you a great idea of your competition for any organic keyword. You can then check out the sites and break down their keyword performance in depth.
SEMrush also shows you related keywords. Notice that all the organic related keywords for our question-based keyword are also question-based keywords:
Use these sections to find out what other people may be Googling. You’ll get updated insights on the kinds of questions your readers are asking.
Do you need to worry about ranking?
Google’s official support page on featured snippets states that they take “a top result” for the question keyword and display it.
So it sounds like you need to rank fairly high to have a chance at getting a snippet.
Most snippets seem to confirm this. For example, if you take our keyword from earlier, “how to increase blog revenue,” and look at the SERP, you’ll see that the page featured in the snippet also ranks at #2:
Let’s try another random query: “what is marketing automation.” Now, the page in the snippet ranks at #1 among the organic search results:
However, that’s not always the case. Moz analyzed 981 snippets and found their rankings. Most of the results were no surprise––70 of the snippets were pulled from positions #1 through #3.
But 30 percent of the snippets came from anywhere from position #4 to #71! Even a site that’s well past the first page can be featured in a snippet.
So do you need to worry about ranking? Not any more than usual.
Of course, you should definitely aim to get on page 1 and always improve your keyword performance. But even if you’re not on page 1, you could still get a snippet.
The moral of the story: If you’re not ranking highly for a keyword, focus on answering questions as best as you can. It’s possible you could still get that snippet in the coveted position of #0.