What the heck is a Google Featured Snippet?
First of all, you are probably wondering what in the heck is a Google Featured Snippet? Well, it looks like this:
Google Featured Snippets are the bit of text that shows up at the top of the Google Search Results Page in a small outlined grey box. Google returns these bits of text when a user asks a direct question about a particular subject. Google Featured Snippets are very valuable and can get you thousands of clicks to your article if you are prepared to do the work to get your site featured in one or many. How many are really up to how much work you are willing to do to make sure that your site is an authority site and that your content is what the Google Featured Snippet Bot (yes there really is such a thing) is looking for. So let’s get started!
What the heck is Search Intent and how does it apply to Google Featured Snippet Dominance you ask?
Next, we need to understand “Search Intent”. I know that sounds “techie” but really it’s not that bad. When you break it down the word really means exactly what it says. It is the intent that the user has when they search for something on Google Search Engine. Google prides itself on giving the utmost attention to the intent of the information seeker and they strive to have the result match the query. They do it well, as their success affirms.
The results page that Google returns are served on is called the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
The top returns are not always but mostly what Google and SEO Masters always refer to as “Authority Site Return(s)”. These are websites that have content that matches their keywords and along with that have strong and engaged with content that is highly mentioned in social media as well as with backlinks of other ASRs.
If you want to be in a Google Featured Snippet, you are going to need to be an ASR.
Here is an image detailing SEMRush’s 17 ranking factors. It is a standard in the industry and is worth a look before we go on.
It is important to note the importance of things like social media mentions, brand name mentions, content quality, comments on the article because the Googlebot (Google’s robot crawler [machine that indexes your website]) is smart. It understands syntax, categories, sentiments because it uses Natural Language Cloud to do so. This wondrous mix of AI and IT allows Google to understand what your site is talking about. But that is not all. The crawler can distinguish what your site is about the history of the author (and their authority) whether the site is on topic and many more attributes that give the bot context. The key importance is internal linking structures and all the ranking features mentioned in the image we posted above.
So how are you going to compete with “the big guns”? You are not. At first. What you are going to be able to do is work your way “up the ladder” so to speak by making sure that your content is packaged a certain way for a certain type of query.
A good example is the search term “Best Cat Treats”. Now you are NOT going to beat out the top authority sites on this term. Not at first. What you are going to be able to do is beat our mid search terms like this one “Best Cat Treats For Persian Cats”. These are called long-tailed keywords and they can be the lifeblood of your growing presence in Google Featured Snippets across millions of search subjects EVERY DAY! Imagine getting thousands of Google Featured Snippets for long-tailed keywords bringing in 20 to 30 visits each! That would certainly make your time worth it. So don’t get us wrong, this is going to take work and time and research, but it IS worth it because the more you get into understanding long-tailed keywords and how powerful they are for your search intent mastery you are going to be well on your way to being an ARP of your own right!
A really great resource for checking the website authority of different sites is https://ahrefs.com. This site will allow you to check your own ranking and then any sites that rank on the SERPs for the long-tailed keyword you are looking to compete with. Your job is to beat that number by working hard and then rechecking that number after each thing you do to reach a better ARP.
The best thing you can do is get a good guide to writing content that improves you SEO and visitor engagement and most certainly learn SEO yourself so you can avoid some pretty big pitfalls.
How do I actually gain dominance on Google Featured Snippet placement?
So how do I actually do this? Okay here we go”
STEP ONE: Find the SERP that you want to dominate. Find your topic and make sure that there are not tons of ads surrounding that keyword on the SERP. If it is, then you are going to be invisible even if you do get the Google Featured Snippet.
STEP TWO: Make sure there is no existing Google Featured Snippet for the search term you are using (long-tailed keyword).
STEP THREE: Optimize your content (make it so Google wants it).
STEP FOUR: Make sure your focus keyphrase answers the user’s query immediately. So if the user is asking, “What is the best cat treat for Persian cats?” then your focus keyphrase had better be, “The best cat treat for Persian cats is…”. Do you see what I did there? make sure that you are using no more than 40-50 words to answer their query. Moz did a study of 1.4 million featured snippets and found that the best length for the content in a featured snippet is between 40 and 50 words. Hey, they know what they are talking about with studies that big!
That is the sugar zone for sure! Try and be in the sugar zone as best you can at all times. With SEO the motto is better safe than sorry ALWAYS!
Finally, be aware that a Google Featured Snippet could come from anywhere on your site’s content. Like, anywhere. So being as consistent as possible with making contextual statements surrounding particularly important “concept words” is always a great thing to do. Keep that in your mind as you are writing that being “explanatory” with terms is a great thing to do. Using inline linking along with explanatory text surrounding a concept word is so tasty any bot will eat it.
STEP FIVE: Try and find mistakes by Googlebot. Not easy but they do exist. Sometimes Googlebot does not get SERP right. In this case, you will have an opportunity. Use it. It takes a great deal of research to do this step so I would say it is an advanced technique. You do this by looking very carefully to make sure the title of the page in the result matches the keyword phrase EXACTLY and I mean EXACTLY. If you are not doing so, then, well, this step should be avoided.
Before we leave step five let’s consider a case scenario where this might make a bit more sense.
Consider a query where someone wants to know “What were the best earning MLM categories in 2019?” You enter this into the search bar and you get a return for best earning MLM in 2019. The user is asking for the best-earning categories, not the best company. You have an opportunity. So create a list in a table after researching it and post that in an article on your WordPress and watch how your snippet replaces the one about top-earning MLM company.
It’s like that. That is a simple example but I think you get the picture.
Why is it important to get a snippet that is not buried with ads? The positioning on the SERP matters. The first position will bring in an average of 30 percent click-through. With hundreds of millions of users, that is potentially massive traffic for a term. The further you get from the first position in the returns the less click through happens. Between just 1 and 10, you can go from a 30 percent click-through to a 3 percent click-through.
Finally, a word about the PEOPLE ALSO ASK section of a Google Search Engine Results Page. If someone asks, “What is the best cat snack for Persian cats” and you Title your article with, “The bests cat snacks for Persian cats”, this section of the SERP has drop-down tabs and when you open them they list all the “related searches” folks search for surrounding your topic. You could end up there and that is always a good thing too.
A review of Google Featured Snippet dominance procedures:
So let’s recap:
- Locate the SERP you want to appear on.
- Get your content in shape for inclusion in a Google Featured Snippet.
- Make sure your response to the user’s query is direct and immediate using the query’s keyphrase as your answer.
- Be sure that your answer is within the 40-50 word recommendation by MOZ.
- Try and sniff out where Google made a mistake and the result does not EXACTLY match the user query.
That’s it. Happy Snippeting! (Is that a word?) Well, my spell check did not flag it, so, Heck Yeah it is!
P.S. Here are some great videos about Google Featured Snippets. Click on video placeholder to play. Enjoy!