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How To Get Featured Snippets – 30 SEO Experts Share Their Tips

     -     Feb 11th, 2020   -     Search Engine Optimization   -     0 Comments

Featured snippets, also called answer box or the zero position in Google’s search results, are useful for users but they are not that appreciated by the SEO community.

Unfortunately, because we don’t have the option to remove Google’s featured snippets completely (as I am sure many people would want to) we have to learn what is the best way in which we can take advantage of this feature.

With this goal in mind, we gathered opinions from 30 SEO experts that explain what are featured snippets, how do they work, and how to optimize your content to rank on featured snippets.

Our main question was the following:

How do you optimize your content to get featured snippets?

Without further introduction let’s see what the experts had to say.

 

Lance Bachmann – 1SEO

Lance Bachmann

Whether you already have an understanding of featured snippets or not, if you’ve used Google to search something in the past six years, you’ve already seen, and likely clicked on many featured snippets.

Featured snippets are Google’s top selected search results, which are featured/highlighted in their own box, positioned on top of organic results and directly under paid advertisements. Most individuals outside of the digital marketing community refer to snippets as “answer boxes.”

There are three primary types of featured snippets: paragraph snippets (~82%), bulleted / numbered snippets (~11%), and table snippets (~7%). Each snippet serves a specific purpose to satisfy the most common end-user search queries.

Generally, the most common search queries that get featured snippets surround DIY, health, financial, or statistical searches. Content that usually doesn’t get featured snippets are images, videos, local searches, or shopping/eComm.

How do I Begin Optimizing My Content to Rank for Featured Snippets?

It all begins with the on-page SEO of your website. If your site’s keywords are already ranking in Google’s top 10, you’re already in a great position to snag a featured snippet. Nearly 99.5% of featured snippets are already organically ranking on the first search engine results page (SERP).

Not there yet? No worries. Start with keyword and snippet research surrounding the questions in your vertical.

Use SEMrush to find your competitors’ snippets and Google the questions you’re trying to go after and also find new snippet opportunities by looking at the “People also ask” section.

Five Tips for Optimizing Your Content to Rank on Google Featured Snippets in 2020

1. On-page SEO is Everything

  • Target long-tail keywords that are in the evergreen questions users are asking.
  • What is, Why is, How to…
  • More importantly, target keyword intent – your page can be featured even the long-tail keywords are not questions. This is where quality content meets SEO strategy.
  • Ask the question in your subheading (H2 markup)
  • Though regarded as a best practice to mark up your content, there’s no real correlation between schema markup and Featured snippets.

2. Answer the questions you’re after concisely and correctly.

  • Stay within 40-50 words for each answer.
  • Stay organized, Google’s Bots like organized.

3. Make sure your content answers multiple, related questions

4. Utilize and update the article with high-quality on-page graphics

5. Monitor your progress and protect your featured snippet.

Matt Diggity

Matt Diggity

Optimizing for featured snippets is a game of reverse engineering what’s already working. Google prefers certain formats for constructing their featured snippet answers.

Sometimes they serve up simple, short blocks of text. Other times it might be ordered lists, or unordered lists constructed from the headings (usually H2s) of the article.

Your job is to replicate the given structure and do better.

Use LSI keywords in your snippet content. Echo back the question in your short block of text answer.

And test! Snippet results change frequently, so check back often to see if your tests worked.

Alan Bleiweiss

Alan Bleiweiss

Featured Snippets are all about helpfulness to searchers. To get visibility within them, a site needs to have strong overall SEO. High rankings organically when no Featured Snippet (FS) is present, are vital. Content needs to be able to “answer all the important questions”. This is something I help clients achieve in my audit work.

It involves a series of steps, some fast, some time-consuming. All worth the effort.

First – Research
What are the different types of people who are the ideal market for your products or services?
What are the different points in their decision journey, from initial research to more in-depth questions?
What ARE all the important questions?

Going to Google as each of these people, at each point in their journey, reveals initial questions. Current FS result, “People Also Ask”, and “related searches” at the bottom of the first page of Google guide that. Then research tools like Answer the Public, or the Moz Keyword Explorer.

You then need data on search volume compared to the relevance of the ideal target market for high-value conversion opportunities.

You then need to build out evergreen (not blog) content on that. Organize it intuitively.

That’s just the basics – there is a lot of nuance to execution. So having guidance can be invaluable if you don’t succeed on your own.

Steve Toth – SEO Notebook

Steve Toth

I use the Chrome Extension SEO Ruler and grab all the bold keywords from the SERP (make sure to set your search results to 100).

I then work those bold keywords into my featured snippets.

I always make sure the H2 is optimized and place the featured snippet text directly underneath. It also helps if you repeat the question back at the beginning of the answer. Good luck!

Debra Murphy – Masterful Marketing

Debra Murphy

I use the following process to get my clients into a featured snippet position:

1. Determine which keyword phrases you want to target

We begin with solid keyword research to identify what people use when searching for solutions to their challenges. Most often these queries are in the form of a question. This list of keyword phrases helps us build a strategic content calendar.

2. Create well-optimized content to satisfy those queries

We create the content to answer the question that is being asked during the search. This content needs to be of high quality with enough depth to demonstrate our expertise.

We then optimize the content so that it will rank on the first page of the search results. Content needs to be on the first page of the search results to be considered for a featured snippet.

3. Format the content properly

Proper formatting is important to your optimization efforts. For the snippet itself, we place a concise answer to the question at the top of the content and use an h2 heading tag for the question or phrase. Then we review the rest of the content to ensure there is a structure that creates a logical flow that helps your users read your content and Google to effectively crawl the content.

Matt Davison – Travel Tractions Marketing

Matt Davison

Featured snippets are mostly about the markup that is used around the snippet keyword. So the first thing we do is inspect the snippet of the keyword we want to rank for, checking what markup it has.

At first, snippets were mostly tables and lists, then Google started using heading structure. Now, we’re sometimes able to replicate it with just paragraph tags and keeping the paragraph concise. As well as including to correct keywords and answering the keyword’s search intent.

First, we need to inspect the code elements by right-clicking or being source and try to find out what the competitor is doing.

It’s important to note that you can’t really make a featured snippet, only steal or replace someone else’s. So try to replicate whatever the website that currently has the snippet is doing. I also haven’t seen much success if you’re not already ranking in the top 7, so try only get snippets for pages ranking within the top 7 or so.

Once you have done this you need to get the page reindexed, you can do this with a speed test or resubmitting the page to Google.

Janke Schreiber – SEO Pros

Janke Schreiber

In order to occupy the featured snippets in SERPs, you have to focus on search intent. This can make or break your strategy. Be sure to match your content with the searcher’s query.

In-depth keyword research can help you to determine what your market is looking for online. See what your competitors are doing and what the current featured snippet consists of.

Once you’ve determined what the intent of the search is, you can focus on structure. Look out for bullet lists, tone of language and infographics. Content structure is often related to specific industries.

Be sure to include keyword phrases in your content. Featured snippets are usually about 50 words long. Short and sweet is key. Give your audience what they’re looking for – now. This will keep them coming back to your website in the future.

You can aim for the prime “featured snippets” spot from the get-go. Be sure to include all essential on-page elements on your website and Google will soon rank your page and use the content in featured snippets.

Gábor Imre – ROI Foundry

Gábor Imre

As a first step, we do an in-depth competitor analyst using SEO tools (like Ahrefs) to reverse engineer the competitors’ rankings. Then based on the filters we sort out those that have featured snippets and a low difficulty.

We focus on those competitors whose domain authority is not higher than that for which we do the optimization, so we have a good chance to get into Top10 and then into featured snippets.

We prioritize listing type featured snippets because if your list is longer than what can be displayed you can get additional clicks by people having to open the website to see the full list.

Juliana Weiss-Roessler – WR Digital Marketing

Juliana Weiss-Roessler

Make sure you are formatting and structuring your writing appropriately. Write articles in a Q&A format, covering multiple questions related to a single topic.

Format each question as a header. Then answer each question concisely right underneath each question within 40-50 words.

You can then go into more detail related to the question, but make sure that the first paragraph provides an answer. That is what you’re hoping will be featured as a snippet.

Kyle Douglas – Revium

Kyle Douglas

When optimizing for opportunities to claim featured snippets start by looking for keywords that you rank well for, generally page 1, but don’t have a featured snippet for.

These are the best targets as your website already has good domain authority, so tweaking the content slightly can enable you to claim a featured snippet more easily.

“What is…’, ‘how to…’ style keywords are the best kinds to optimize for, so look for opportunities where you can either get Google to generate new featured snippets for the keywords you are targeting by using the following structure OR claiming featured snippets from competitors.

Once you have decided on the keyword to target, create content that explicitly answers the keyword in question and wrap it in a H3 tag. Your answer to that question will be immediately below this wrapped in a H4. The content matters here, make sure you include the ‘step 1, step 2 step 3’ etc within the answer.

Eg:
<h3>How to optimise for featured snippets</h3>
<h4>Step 1: Identify target keyword</h4>
<h4>Step 2: Add the content to the page and mark up with header tags</h4>
<h4>Step 3: Wait for the impressions and clicks to roll in </h4>


I trialed this by finding a page we ranked well for that had no featured snippet and generated an additional ~40% traffic over the last 3 months for an online raffle system that we develop by optimising around a keyword.

Johnny Baskin – Nomadic Advertising

Johnny Baskin

Ranking for featured snippets is an important topic in 2020 with voice search becoming more prevalent in our lives and more companies than ever wanting to appear in position zero. There are a few steps involved in getting the elusive featured snippets.

First of all, you will need to conduct some research on suitable questions related to the page you are trying to get featured. FAQ and Q&A pages typically do well with featured snippets. Most featured snippets are around 40-50 words long so you should keep your answers around that length.

You can use a keyword research tool such as kwfinder to search for different questions and their search volume.

Once you’ve identified some good ones check the SERP on Google and see if the results have a featured snippet already. In some cases, there will also be a “people also ask” box which can give you more ideas for questions.

A featured snippet can come in multiple different formats. Depending on how you want your featured snippet to look you may need to format the content on your page differently.

For example, using bullet points, numbered lists or tables. It is also recommended to use schema markup to make it easier for Google to understand how to format your content and what it is for.

Following these few tips will help you better optimize for the featured snippet position.

Brooke Logan – Sage Frog

Brooke Logan
First, I start by making sure my company already ranks on the first page of the search engine results for the core keyword in the featured snippet I’m trying to obtain. If your company doesn’t already perform on the first page, it’s not likely you’ll be able to capture the featured snippet.

You can find out if you perform for the featured snippet, or similar keywords related to it, by utilizing tools such as Ahrefs or SEMRush or by doing a manual search in an incognito browser.

Second, I research the page that currently has the featured snippet I’m attempting to go after. The company that currently has the featured snippet has it for a reason – they have what the search engines deem as the best answer to the query that is being searched.

Ultimately, you want to try and figure out how you can mimic the current featured snippet but make it better. Some specific things I take into consideration are:

Where is the answer to the featured snippet placed on the webpage? Does it have a heading? How is it formatted? What important keywords are used within the answer to the featured snippet?

With all of the information gathered from my extensive research, I put it to good use by utilizing it in my efforts to obtain the featured snippet for my business.

Sarah Macklin – Click Consult

Sarah Macklin

The key to optimizing your content to rank on featured snippets is understanding what the end-user is searching for. I try to answer whatever question the user is asking in a few sentences that will likely get picked up to go in the snippet.”

For instance, to get a client’s article featured in a snippet for the search “how much gas does a boiler use per hour?” I would answer the question directly in a sentence or two, explaining how much energy a boiler uses and what that equates to per day, then ensure the full article contains much more information.”

I would also look at search volume and who is already ranking in the featured snippet. If the search volume was really high, it would likely be quite competitive. That means it might be better to go for another similar keyword that has less volume.

If there is also a big brand already ranking, it might be best avoided if the client is a smaller brand. Again, they might not be able to compete. Sometimes it is worth looking for queries that don’t have a featured snippet so that you can make one too.

Joseph Colarusso – CORE Search Marketing

Joseph Colarusso

To start, find search queries for which you already have a piece of content that ranks on the first page of Google. Most featured snippets come from first-page results, so these queries present your best opportunities.

Then, search those queries on Google to determine whether or not they result in featured snippets. Not all searches have a featured snippet, so you want to prioritize search queries that do.

Now, you have a list of target search queries. Go one by one and search those queries on Google to see what the featured snippet looks like. The snippet can be a paragraph, a table, or a list.

Optimize your content to fit the type of featured snippet. If Google shows a list, then you should answer that search query in the list format in your content.

Above all, do what you can to make your content better than the content that currently wins the featured snippet. Answer the query more clearly or provide more detail so you can overtake the current snippet.

Liam Porter – Salience

Liam Porter

To optimize for featured snippets, you need to consider three factors: clarity, relevancy, and structure. If your answer – whether it’s a paragraph, a list, or a table – hits these three notes, you have a very high chance of stealing the snippet.

Clarity is all about answering the question as clearly as possible. Search engines scour the web for content that will best answer the query. If you want to nerd out over how to read up on natural language processing (NLP). It’s rather complex but you can cheat your way to the top.

NLP refers to how search engines link words in a sentence. Make your job easier by keeping your sentences short. I aim for one clause per sentence, but you can get away with two. It’s also worth signposting your answer with a header that matches the query.

Relevancy is about packing your answer with semantically relevant terms while keeping it short. For example, if you’re talking about temperature, make sure you reference Fahrenheit and Celsius. The more words on the topic you can get into your answer, the better your chances.

Finally, structure; check how the snippet is already presenting and do similar. Most often, questions and complex queries are answered with a paragraph; plural queries are answered in a list form; data sets are presented in tables.

Put simply, answer the question without fluff, with relevant terms, in the structure that’s easiest to digest.

Chris Love – Love2Dev

Chris Love

I love featured snippets because they give you the opportunity to jump a higher result without doing the required link building to be #1. You still need to be on the first page 99.9% of the time, so you don’t just throw out your normal SEO best practices.

First, get your technical SEO in order. Make sure your pages are interactive and fully rendered in 3 seconds or less on mobile. Get this right and most likely you have technical things handled well. If you miss on this you won’t be on the first page and feature snippet targeting won’t matter.

Next, make sure your content is on point. This first requires deep keyword research. What do you want to rank for, why and what are others doing to be on page one.

Then how can you make better content? Don’t just regurgitate what is already there. Build on it.

Find out what questions are searched in your niche, containing your keywords. Tools like AlsoAsked.com are helpful here. That way you can ask the question and of course provide an answer.

If there is an existing featured snippet, what format is it structured? Make sure you provide a good answer in that format.

Don’t forget the images and videos. You want to own the full-featured snippet and many times they include media. Don’t let those clicks go to another site.

Brian Robben – Robben MediaBrian Robben

Ranking on featured snippets is easier said than done, but you simply need to write the best article on the internet for the given search. To do this, you’ll need to first consider the intent of the searcher.

Ask yourself, who is this person, what are they looking for, what is confusing about this topic, and how can I write a piece so well that they don’t need to browse any other websites to find information.

Second, research the current top-ranking articles and see where they fell a bit short. Maybe they didn’t add examples, do original research, or have a video, which you can do to one up them.

Lastly, dive into SEO and how to optimize your on-page SEO. This is the skill of formatting your website for Google’s technical bots to decipher and rank you. When you do these three things extremely well, not every time, but more than not, Google will reward you with featured snippets.

Boyd Norwood – Nozzle

Boyd Norwood

We know that about 90% of featured snippets come in either paragraph or list format.

The best place to start is to find all of the queries that contain an existing featured snippet where your site currently ranks on page one.

Then work on adding a succinct summary answering the searchers’ intent either in a concise paragraph or a bullet point list.

If your answer is better than the existing featured snippet, Google will eventually favor your site instead in that spot.

Danilo Godoy – Search Evaluator Partners

Danilo Godoy

There are different types of featured snippets, namely paragraph snippets, ordered list, unordered list and table snippets. I’m going to focus on the paragraph type of snippets for question queries.

To optimize content to rank for this type of FS, it’s important that:

  • You include the question you are looking to rank for as a heading tag in your content
  • The answer, with which you are looking to be featured, is immediately below the question in a paragraph tag
  • The content objectively answers the question ideally in less than 50 words and no more than two sentences
  • The content provides the answer to the question in a straightforward, impartial and dictionary-like way
  • It’s also important that your website/content has an adequate level of E-A-T for the targeted topic, or it won’t rank as a featured snippet

Jackie Owen – Techjackie

Jackie Owen

Here are the steps to optimize for featured snippets:

Make sure your content satisfies the users’ intent – If they’re looking for a product to buy, make sure you’re not trying to rank your blog article for it.

Make sure your content has the right content structure that Google is expecting – Right content structure here means that if the majority of content ranking on the first page are listicles, you should make your content listicle as well. If they are paragraphs, make sure your content is in the format of the paragraph.

After you make sure that the above 2 points are covered, next is to use what I called “Snippet driving words”, or the words that when detected on the page, help you win snippets easier.

Lastly, try to answer the question as early as possible in the content. Preferably, within the first 200 words.

Some of the snippet driving words are “Here are the …” and “It means…” – Basically trying to answer the questions directly.

For example, if the users search for “social media tips for startups.”, We would use words like: “Here are the social media tips for startups:”

Ali Cort – Browser Media

Ali Cort

You don’t need to go crazy and create lots of new content to appear in featured snippets. Use Search Console to see which questions you already rank reasonably well for and to find the corresponding page that shows in SERPs.

You may find that an individual page does answers a question as a whole but that Google can’t pick out a single paragraph that it can use for the featured snippet.

By adding in a short introductory paragraph of around 270 characters which concisely answers the question (before getting into the nitty-gritty), you will improve your chances of being the chosen one.

Similarly use questions as paragraph headings to help signpost Google to the parts of your content that could be used as a featured snippet. Lastly, make sure you are using the FAQ schema markup to help Google ‘understand’ the question and answer format.

Even if you don’t secure the top spot, a bit of readjusting content in older posts can give it a new lease of life and help boost your natural rankings, so don’t be despondent if you don’t see immediate featured snippet results.

Ben Duke – Zeal

Ben Duke

Optimizing your page for featured snippets comes down to a few points that you need to follow, to ensure your page is appealing to Google.

They are the following:

– Have properly structured, clear and concise content that informs, educates and excites the user

– Make sure to answer any question fully, in a clear manner, giving only the necessary information to answer the question/query

– You need to ensure the article answers more than just one question

– Be factual and well organized, Google loves statistics, numbers, step by step guides and lists

If you make sure you’re following those steps, then this will make your content optimized for featured snippets. It doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get one but it puts you in the best position possible.

Hitesh Sahni – Smemark

Hitesh Sahni

My best tip for optimizing content for featured snippet is to strictly consider a searcher’s intent for the keywords you are targeting. Usually, people who use search engines want to do one of these activities:

– Visit a website they are already familiar with: “Amazon website”
– Quickly find a short answer to something: “How many calories are in a banana?”
– Accomplish a task: “Flight tickets for New York”
– Purchase an item: “Buy golf ball”

So to optimize your content for featured snippets, you should optimize for intent. You need to ensure that your content gives an answer to several similar queries.

For example, when writing an article about broken link building, cover multiple queries searchers may have on the topic of broken link building:

– What is broken link building?
– What are good broken link building ideas?
– What steps does a good broken link building include?
– Do I need broken link building?

You do not require to write several pieces when you have the option to jot down a comprehensive, in-depth piece of content which addresses a lot of similar queries in a seamless manner.

Ellie-Paige Moore – The Bolt Way

Ellie-Paige Moore

It’s always a good idea to start with some good old keyword research when trying to rank on featured snippets.

However, when researching your keywords with a focus on featured snippets, always have in mind to either start with question-type search queries (question words starting with “how” or “what” for example) as these are the easiest to identify or target informational intent instead of just questions.

Even though featured snippets seem to aim at answering user’s questions immediately, the vast majority of keywords that do trigger featured snippets are long-tail queries a lot of the time, with no questions words in them. Taking this into account, I would try and combine both of these tasks to get the best chance of acquiring a featured snippet.

It also helps if you use a keyword research tool that shows whether a certain keyword or query will have the opportunity for a featured snippet.

For this, we use SEMrush as it combines both keyword research and featured snippets in one table. It will then show if a featured snippet is available and if it is, then the types of featured snippets that could be earned such as; Paragraph, list, table or video.

Tom Crowe Digital

Tom Crowe

When looking to achieve the featured snippet you should ensure that the heading (be it the H1 or an H2 further down the page) perfectly matches the most common search query. The following two sentences should then summarise the answer to that query in less than 50 words to be concise whilst ensuring you are comprehensive.

The rest of the page can answer the granular detail but those first two sentences are crucial for broadly summarising the answer to entice users to read on.

For list based queries, structuring the answer in unordered lists (bullet points) or ordered lists (numbers) is the most effective way to achieve the featured snippet. It’s important to make the distinction between the two list types because they will be crucial to achieving the featured snippet.

For example, if a user were to search for “how to fill up car windscreen water” the steps need to be taken in an order which calls for an ordered list.

Conversely, a query such as “components needed to build a PC” will require an unordered list because gathering the materials doesn’t need to happen in order. The two keywords to remember when trying to achieve the featured snippet are ‘comprehensive’ and ‘concise’.

Abul Kashem – Uprankly

Abul Kashem

Getting in the top three positions in the SERPs for the keywords is highly essential to get a good number of visitors from SEO. To get the top spots on the SERPs, you need to provide what Google currently considers the best for a particular topic.

I would recommend you use tools like Cora, surperSEO, or pageoptimizer.pro to get the recommendations. Create the content based on that and get a higher score as possible before you publish it. After posting the content, run an outreach campaign to build links.

Majority cases we optimize for list features snippet. For heading, we use h2 tags followed by a list of more than five items. For example:

<h2> 10 Best WordPress Page Builder Plugins </h2>
<ol>
<li>Elementor </li>
<li>Beaver Builder </li>
<li>Divi Builder </li>
<li>Brizy </li>
<li>Thrive Architect </li>
<li>Visual Composer </li>
<li>Themify Builder </li>
<li>WP Page Builder </li>
<li>WPBakery Page Builder </li>
<li>SiteOrigin Page Builder </li>
</ol>

Arvind Patil – SRV Media

Arvind Patil

Google recently announced the featured snippet where restricting URLs again that are shown in the featured snippets.

You can still outrank your competitors without maintaining top positions. People are looking for answers and featured snippet is the short version. So make sure to target long-tail keywords or question type keywords because people are asking questions.

Listen to people! 50% of searches will be going through voice. Look for a “people also ask for” in searches and if that’s relevant optimize the content smartly.

Don’t forget to add the punchy, short line, quotes, graphs or statistics to get your content in the snippets like table or list.

Most important parts come when you tell Google about your content flow (Descending or ascending) by optimizing headings (H1, H2, H3, etc).

Apart from this, you need to understand some add on like adding Q & A, featured images, including words like cause, define, improve, develop, etc that have a high probability for generating snippets.

Alexander De Ridder – INK 

Alexander De Ridder

Optimizing content to capture Featured Snippets starts with the Related Questions for the topic. Google displays these in the box labeled “People Also Asked”.

Begin by searching your target keyword or phrase. Next, make a list of all of the Related Questions that Google returns for your topic. Treat these like longtail keywords. Use these questions as H2 headers in your article. Then, craft the ideal, 95-word maximum answer to each question. Place your answer directly following the H2 question.

This approach also helps supercharge content to capture Snippet opportunities in three ways.

First, it does a lot of the heavy lifting for Google. Making the Related Question a prominent header followed by the most relevant and concise answer makes it easier for Google to take that chunk and prioritize it as a Snippet.

(For video content, you can do this by making the video title a relevant Related Question and providing the answer in both the video and the video description.)

Second, it ensures your content is relevant. Since Google tends to reward the most topically relevant content, understanding all of the questions people ask about a subject tells you exactly which angles you need to cover in your content.

Third, it helps create a positive UX. Display box space restrictions usually mean that Snippets longer than 100 words trail off with ellipses. An incomplete answer looks ugly and, worse, delivers less value to the user.

Pro Tip: This strategy also is the fastest way to start writing a snippet-optimized article. Use a list of Related Questions like an outline, and by the time you’ve answered five, you’ve already on your way to a relevant, 500-word article.


Thank you so much to all the experts that shared their opinions with us! Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions.

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