When you stop to think about it, it’s obvious that the way people search the Internet has changed dramatically in recent times. With voice and mobile searches being increasingly common, search engines have had to adapt.
As you’d expect, Google has been adapting to the comparatively new ways people search for information just fine. Google’s goal is to make information accessible and useful, after all, so you’d expect nothing less from the company other than quick, well thought out responses to changes in user behaviors.
Direct Answers and Featured Snippets
One way Google has responded to the manners in which people are now searching for information on the Internet was the introduction of quick answers. Google attempts to provide answers to users’ questions and create the best possible online experience. To do this, Google provides direct, quick answers to queries on its search results pages, without requiring users to click through to a given website to get the information they’re looking for.
There are basically two kinds of quick answers, direct answers and featured snippets. Although they may look alike, direct answers and featured snippets differ from one another in several key ways that a SEO needs to be familiar with.
Google typically gets its direct answers from its own knowledge base. If it doesn’t already have the answer, Google will get a direct answer from one of its trusted sources. This kind of answer is normally offered in response to a simple query about specific facts, such as questions about a word’s meaning or an inquiry about the current weather conditions.
Google gets its featured snippets from third-party websites. Featured snippets include links to the source Google tapped to provide an answer to a query. Featured snippets are normally provided as Google’s response to queries that are more involved than those that initiate direct answers.
Google displays featured snippets in a box that’s located below a search page’s advertisements and above the top result displayed in a SERP. Below a given featured snippet, you’ll find a link to the webpage where Google sourced the information in the featured snippet.
As of now, there are three primary kinds of featured snippets. The first is a paragraph, which may be a box with just text or text and an image inside of it. A list is another kind of featured snippet that displays information in list form. As its name implies, a table is a featured snippet that provides a response to a query in the form of a table.
The Value of Featured Snippets
To put it simply, it’s virtually impossible to overstate the potential value that featured snippets have for your content marketing strategy. In a case study conducted by Ben Goodsell, the click through rate for a webpage that appeared in a featured snippet increased to eight percent from two percent. This page’s prominent placement in a featured snippet also increased revenue from the page’s organic traffic by a whopping 677 percent.
Tips to Optimize Your Content Marketing for Featured Snippets
The key to getting your website to appear in a featured snippet is for your current content to already rank well in Google search results pages. More specifically, you need to adjust your content so that it ranks in the top 10 positions in SERPs. According to research conducted by Ahrefs, 99.58 percent of featured pages rank in the top ten in Google search results pages. The remaining 0.42 percent of featured pages are sourced from other search features, such as a direct answer.
What do those numbers mean for you? They mean that ranking in one of the top 10 positions in SERPs is vital if you want a webpage to be highlighted in a featured snippet.
It’s important to remember that not every query will trigger a featured snippet in a SERP. At the time of its study, Ahrefs had about 112 million keywords in its database and only 14 million of them triggered featured snippets in SERPs.
Long tail keywords are responsible for triggering the majority of featured snippets. This means that it’s wise to research long tail keywords for the pages you want to appear in featured snippets.
If your content marketing is geared toward getting pages in featured snippets, you should keep a few things in mind when you’re researching keywords for your webpages. You should ask questions that begin with “what, “why” and “how” because these inquiries will ultimately serve as the long tail keywords that are the simplest to find.
While coming up with questions is a good place to start, it’s not enough to identify the keywords that will help your pages rank better and appear in featured snippets. Ahrefs study revealed that most of the keywords that resulted in featured snippets appearing in SERPs were long-tail keywords that included no question words. So, you have to consider informational intent as well as questions when you’re coming up with keywords.
Luckily, there are some tools available online that make keyword research much easier. One such tool is Serpstat. With this handy tool, you can do your keyword research and identify the specific keywords that will result in featured snippets appearing in SERPs.
In addition to identifying long tail keywords for your pages, you should do the following to optimize your content for featured snippets:
- Answer Questions in One Concise Paragraph: A study conducted by AJ Ghergich revealed that a featured snippet in paragraph form includes an average of just 45 words. The maximum number of words this kind of featured snipped can have is 97. So you need to answer the queries you want your pages to be featured for concisely, in just one paragraph on the relevant pages.
- Structure Your SEO Content: Google has a long-standing preference for structured content, which means having structured content like lists and tables can increase the likelihood that your pages will appear as featured snippets in SERPs.
- Answer Multiple Similar Questions and Organize: Research shows that once a page appears in a featured snippet, it’s likely to be featured in SERPs for many other similar inquires. With this in mind, make sure each page answers multiple similar questions. You should also organize your answers in a way that makes sense for Google by using keywords in your text, titles and subheadings.
- Use Attention-Grabbing Images: While featured snippets are well-positioned to grab a viewer’s attention, snippets with images are even more effective at catching someone’s eye. Be sure you use images that will catch the attention of users on your webpages.
Contact Going Clear Interactive
Optimizing your content for featured snippets is often a daunting undertaking, especially if your pages aren’t already ranking well in SERPs. Going Clear Interactive can optimize your pages for you so you can enjoy the results without having to stress over your SEO or content marketing. Contact GoingClear Interactive for more information today.