How to Create Content That Ranks in Google's Featured Snippet Box

How to Create Content that Will Rank in Google’s Featured Snippet Box

by | Nov 29, 2016 | SEO

By definition, a snippet is “a small piece” or “fragment”. Synonyms include “bit”, “scrap”, and “fragment.”

It’s a noun derived from the word “snippety.”

(Spelling the word will also earn you 11 points in the game of Scrabble.)

But when it comes to online searches, Google’s featured snippet box has changed the way the search engine displays results to users.

Anyone who has searched on Google lately will have noticed the box that comes up with a relevant answer to their search, especially if it’s a long-tail keyword phrase like “how to bake cookies” or “how many planets.”

To tantalize you a bit, here is some of our own content that ranks in the Snippets. First, our post in the key term “influential bloggers:”

featured snippet ranking bloggers

Next, we rank in a snippet for “curation tools:”

featured snippet content curation

Add a third is actually pulling my guest post on SocialMediaToday:

featured snippet rankingHad enough yet? 😉

I’ll disclose more on exactly how to optimize and prep your content to make it in the Snippets. Keep reading!

content for google's featured snippets

Google’s Featured Snippet Box: How Important Is It?

Snippets was released in 2014, after Google’s Knowledge Graph (2012) and Answer Box (2013) had already been designed. The two early models were sourced from Google’s database, while Snippets pulls results from third-party sources. Since 2014, Snippets has seen a fourfold rise in growth, with the biggest jump between 2015 and 2016.

The Featured Snippet box will contain a summary of the search results from a webpage, a link to the page, and the URL. According to Google, the purpose of the Featured Snippet is to draw a user’s attention to the answer. Web users may or may not have noticed that it’s been over two years since Google first launched Featured Snippets, and yet marketers are still passing them off as a novelty.

Some critics believe that Snippets only serve to provide a user with an answer, and are not effective in drawing them to a specific site. However, research from Search Engine Land found some results that may surprise the naysayers; after tracking a key page on a client’s site, which had been optimized to better match a searcher’s query, the found that:

  • Over 4 months, no significant changes came as a result of the optimizations
  • After 4 months, a Featured Snippet began showing for a particular keyword
  • The client saw a 516% increase in sessions and a 6% increase in click-through rate
  • Revenue from organic visitors landing on the page increased by 677%

What is Included in a Featured Snippet?

As Glenn Gabe highlights in his study (The Power of Google Featured Snippets 2016), Google’s Featured Snippets receive special SERP (search engine results pages) treatment and can serve to drive large amounts of traffic. In addition, they are designed to build credibility with users as they take the shape of:

  • Images
  • Charts
  • Text
  • Bullets

After asking a questions of Google, wouldn’t you be more drawn to click on the answer in the box with a colorful graphic, rather than the plain old text underneath?

How Does Google Pick Snippets?

Google is not manually picking which Snippet to feature; instead, the selection is based on an algorithm.

Any website is eligible to earn a Snippet, and there is no advantage for big companies versus lesser-known startups. Different experts will say that ranking position does play a role, while others have found that Google chooses Snippets from content all the way over on Page 2 of the search results.

This is GREAT news for us website owners!

As Larry Kim over at Moz found out when he pulled a report for his own website, Google pulled Snippets about 7 out of 10 times from as far back as Page 3, and at times, the source came from positions that went as low as 71. And to quote Kim, when it comes to Snippets, “You need them.”

Here’s How to Find Out if You Rank in the Snippets (Fast)

Step One: Get SEMrush! It’s my tool of choice for all things SEO analytics, as it is for many others.

Step Two: In SEMrush, once you have your domain added, navigate to Domain Analytics > Organic Research > Positions.

semrush projects

Step Three: In your organic search positions, sort by Include > SERP Feature > Featured Snippet.

find your featured snippet ranking

Now, hit Apply, and wait for results to show. Test the results by plugging in the phrases on Google and seeing if your Snippets come up.

semrush snippets screenshot

Not always are you still ranking for the snippet: a bigger site could be outranking you, as Content Marketing Institute did with us on “copywriter skills” (sniff, sniff).

How Do I Create “Snipp-able” Content? 3 Ways

As Glenn Gabe notes in his study, landing a Featured Snippet begins with covering your chosen topic as thoroughly and as clearly as possible. Include an eye-catching image near the answer, use bullets, and provide both the question and the answer on the page.

In addition, users may benefit from featuring content (such as a graph) in a format that is “snipp-able”. Besides displaying images, there are other ways to create content that will show in Google’s box:

1. Find out what users are asking, and then find the answer

General answers that can easily be found anywhere are not the best materials to include in a Snippet. For example, during a recent Google search of “How many presidents?”, the answers came up in standard list form.

When compared to a more specific search of “how to write a book,”, the first result in the Featured Snippet was from a website that instructs would-be authors on how to delve into writing.

2. Create a heading using search words

Notice in the above example that the author included the query “How to write a book” as the heading above the URL. Use a keyword or long-tail search query in the h1, h2, or h3 tag to increase relevancy and answer users’ questions.

3. Focus on longer, high quality keywords

SEMRush sampled 100,000 keywords and found that the average length of the keyword phrase with a Featured Snippet was 6. A keyword research tool (we love SEMrush and KWFinder) can help in this area.

4. Provide concise answers

Ideally, answers to questions should be between 54 and 58 words long. These can be in paragraph form, bulleted, or numbered, depending on what’s best. Hubspot also recommends running an audit of the keywords that are ranking within your current SEO campaign to see how many come up as question-based searches.

Everyone Wants to be a Zero

In the case of Featured Snippets, everyone wants to come in at “zero place” and have their content be front and center in Google search results. With a dedicated focus on relevant questions, an effective headline, high quality keywords, and concise answers, your content is more likely to show up at the top of the search. The box will draw them in, but the relevant answers to the questions will make them stay.

Whether you are currently in place zero or place 3, always remember that step one is to offer great content. At Express Writers, we provide the content you need to make an impact and leave an impression. Connect today to see how we can help you!

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