What is a Google featured snippet and how can you get one?

What is a Google featured snippet and how can you get one?

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What is a Google featured snippet?

Google featured snippets (or “answer boxes”) are short text boxes that appear after the paid ads section on Google search results. Their aim is to answer a simple question and often appear as a short paragraph or definition, a graph or a list. 

It’s no surprise that ranking on the first page of Google is growing increasingly harder as the years roll by. What is evident though is that Google is offering a much broader array of search result options. Google snippets take up a fair amount of real estate on the SERPs, commanding attention and ultimately traffic. 

A snippet will also steal the #0 spot in search rankings! #0 is better than #1 and comes directly after ads!… grabbing the attention away from the top ten results on page one. 

Google snippet example

I managed to snaffle a Google Featured Snippet spot within just 24 hours of posting this blog post about healthy snacks for work from home moms! 24 hours! That’s top spot on the SERPs. That particular keyword has about 148M results.

Types of Google featured snippets

There’s a few different types of Google featured snippet. But they all share the same characteristics. They all aim to answer a searchers query directly, without the need for that searcher to necessarily click through to the website, or continue to scroll for results. 

This might sound counterintuitive with regards to traffic generational, but, a search result with a snippet feature is twice as likely to get clicks than a normal search engine result. 

Additionally, these snippets usually whet the appetite of the searcher and give a taste of what to expect in the main article.. Enticing the reader to follow through with a click. So, that’s a pretty great reason to pay attention to these wee nuggets of gold! 

What types of Google snippets are there?

  1. Definitions
  2. Lists 
  3. Tables
  4. YouTube

Don’t get confused with rich answers or instant answers. These are where Google will literally give you the answer to a question. WIth no site credit. It’s kind of like asking Siri for an answer. 

And, given the questions and answers are generally thought to be public domain- there’s no need for Google to credit a source. 

Google instant answers
Google rich answers

Definition, or paragraph snippets

The most prevalent type of snippet, typically providing an answer to a specific question with a brief, concise definition or paragraph. Paragraph snippets give results based on questions starting with, for example … who is?… why are?… what are?… and where is? … 

The resulting paragraphs are typically short and concise and are between 40-60 words long.  

Paragraph snippets

Lists 

These are super handy! And are either bulleted or numbered. Topics like recipes, DIY, how to’s and step by step tasks are often represented here. 

A numbered or sequential list might offer steps to a recipe, or a random numbered list of the “best of” something or the “top” thingamajig. 

List snippet
Google numbered list snippet

Table 

This type of result offers ordered data that can be easily restructured into a table with rows and columns. You needn’t have this exact format in your content, as Google can restructure this to create the snippet itself, so long as the data is robust in form. 

Tables can show prices, results, data …. 

Google table snippet

Youtube

Sometimes a Snippet search result will be a Youtube video. These highly visual results will usually be presented when a step by step process answer is usually required and is easier explained visually.

Recipes are a great example! 

Youtube snippet

Benefits of Google featured snippets (Why should I care about Google featured snippets?) 

According to Ahrefs’ data, around 12% of search queries have featured snippets in the results. 

Amount of search queries with a featured snippet

A featured snippet gives you far more visibility and can offer you a double dip in the page one rankings. Additionally snippets are twice as likely to get clicks than regular search results. 

Another great feature of a google featured snippet is that when clicked it brings you to the EXACT place on that web page where your answer lies, and highlights it for you! SO very cool. 

Snippet example
Snippet highlighted text on search result

How to get a Google featured snippet 

Because a Google featured snippet aims to answer a specific question you’ll want to make sure you’re crafting your content, where appropriate, to answer questions that begin with either:

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why 
  • How 
Featured snippet questions - Moz
Breakdown of featured snippet questions - Moz

Source: Moz – What we learned from analyzing 1.4 M featured snippets

Your niche plays a bit of a part here too with recipes, how to’s/ DIY, financial and health related posts having a better chance of featuring. 

Ahrefs created this graph of words that trigger featured snippets and as you can see, recipes is number one! So if you’re a food blogger, this is your opportunity! 

Top 30 most frequently met words in search queries with featured snippets - Ahrefs

Source: Ahrefs featured snippets study 

By far the biggest determinant of getting a Google featured snippet is creating awesome, valuable content!

Google loves great content, so simply paying attention to creating awesome content for your audience is where your efforts should be focussed. But, there are a few things to consider when both crafting and structuring your blog posts to increase your chances of featuring.

Steps to get a Google featured snippet 

  1. Do your keyword research
  2. Think closely about your layout
  3. Focus on value added content
  4. Look for low hanging fruit
  5. Think, long tail keywords

1. Do your keyword research

Use keyword tools such as UberSuggest to search for long tailed keywords with and without question type premises in them (ie: what, when, why). A lot of the search queries that trigger snippet results do not in fact contain questions. 

UberSuggest keyword search

Also, utilise Google to search for what is coming up on SERPs snippets (and alt queries) for your particular niche.

Google search query

Don’t forget to check out the people also asked section at the bottom of the search results page for more options. 

Google related search queries

Answer the Public is another site where you can do a wee bit of snooping. Here you can find questions that the public are asking with relation to a particular topic. 

Like, cake for instance 😂

Answer the public

Cake> Will> Will cake freeze

Cake> Will> Will cake rise without eggs

Cake> Will> Will cake batter keep overnight

Cake> Why> Why cake sink 

Cake> Why> Why cake is dense

Cake> Why > Why cake is good for you 

2. Think closely about your layout

Think about how your page is structured and how both a reader and Google searches your page for info.

Make sure you have the search query you might get featured for in an H2 or H3 header. 

3. Focus on value added content 

As always, it’s best practice to make sure you’re answering your readers questions when creating your content and this goes one step further when looking to win featured snippet results. 

Ensure you’re making space in your writing for specifically answering readers questions in a way that Google can easily extract. Bearing in mind, natural language features and content quality ALWAYS comes first! 

A common questions, or a FAQ section at the bottom of your article is one way to do this.

4. Look for low hanging fruit

What pages do you currently rank highly for? Are you able to tweak this content to include some of the above features? Having an already highly ranked page dramatically increases your likelihood of obtaining a featured snippet. 

Google featured snippets guide for bloggers

5. Think long tail keywords

Arefs showed that long tailed keywords were preferred over short tailed keywords for Google featured snippets.

Remember that people often search for keywords that use natural language. Not marketing speak. So, instead of searching for Instagram templates. A user might search How do I make good templates on Instagram

It’s important to remember that there’s a few new ways to rank on the first page of Google.

You can seriously up your SEO game by using just a handful of simple changes to your post layout, content and structure.

Best news is that all of these steps are supppper important for other reasons too, like readability and aesthetic appeal.

Let me know what you think! Have you been paying attention to Google Snippets? Are you doing anything to help you achieve a featured snippet?

Cover image by Dane Deaner on Unsplash




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