“What is Netflix?”, “When can I retire?”, “How much does a pilot earn?”. Just a few questions that you can ask Google. What do these questions have in common? Google immediately shows you the answer. The answer is displayed in a featured snippet and offers great opportunities for SEO. You can read more about this in this article.
Google is increasingly able to understand and interpret users’ questions. The number of search terms on which Google itself already answers is increasing. Many companies, however, do not use this yet, while with Google Assistant it can be of great added value to bring your website extra attention. I would like to tell you more about this underexposed opportunity.
What is a featured snippet?
A featured snippet (not to be confused with a rich snippet ) is a special section at the top of the Google search results page. Here the answer is given to the visitor’s question. The question is answered with information obtained from third-party websites.
The purpose of the featured snippet (also called Google Answer Box) is to give the visitor an immediate answer to his or her question, without having to click on any of the search results. The answer to the question can appear in the form of a paragraph, summary list or table.
What do featured snippets mean for SEO?
The goal of search engine optimization is to make your website as prominent as possible in organic search results. As you can see in the above image, the featured snippet stands out above all organic search results. Because only the paid results are still above the featured snippet, this is also called ‘position 0‘. Position zero has two other major advantages:
1. Big in picture on mobile
The featured snippet takes up a lot of space on desktop, but even more on small screens of smartphones. Depending on the length of the answer, your website may occupy the largest part of the visitor’s screen. See also the example above.
With the fact that more than 50% of all searches in Google are done via a mobile device, this provides great opportunities to take over the screen of the user.
2. The chances of voice search
Featured snippets also play an important role in voice searches. The answers that are visible in these highlighted snippets are used by Google’s virtual assistant to answer the questions users ask aloud. If users want to know more, they can click on their smartphone to your website.
It is expected that by 2020 fifty percent of all searches will be done via voice search or voice commands.
Do users still click through to my website?
The most common argument for not displaying your website in the featured snippets (here is a piece of code that you can include in your website), is that there is no reason for the user to click through to the website that has the answer. After all, you have already received an answer to (a part of) your question.
Case studies from Search Engine Land and Hubspot show that there is a higher Click-Through-Rate (CTR) at position 0. And that is not surprising in itself, a user can not yet be completely satisfied with the answer and want more information. Or there are additional questions.
In addition, it is important to take into account the country in which the user is located – at the beginning of the customer journey. By introducing users to your brand name early on, this can lead to a conversion at a later stage.
How does my website come up as featured snippets?
It is up to Google to determine whether the information from your website is shown directly in the form of a featured snippet. There are factors that play a part in this, including your authority, search volume and the formatting of the content. I would like to give you some tips to increase the chance of a prominent position. These do not give you a guarantee to be shown, but Google is rapidly increasing the number of questions that answers are being extended.
Tip 1. Research what people are looking for
It is important to know with which questions potential customers search for. A handy tool that I use for this is Answer The Public . Enter a relevant keyword on this website and get an overview of related questions that people type into Google. These questions usually begin with: What, How, How Much, When and What.
If you also keep track of searches within your website in Google Analytics, you can check whether there are any interesting keywords or questions in this.
Tip 2. Check whether an answer to this question is already provided in a Google Answer Box
Google does not yet answer all questions itself. Check whether the search engine already displays a featured snippet for the questions you’ve noted on tip 1 here. If this is not the case and there is sufficient search volume, then it is wise to get started with this.
If Google already provides an answer to the question, then it makes sense to check whether you can exceed the competition. Look at the position of your website, the relevance and especially how you can improve the answer to the question.
Tip 3. Ensure the correct layout
It should be clear to Google which content on your website answers the question of the user. You do this by putting the question (as exact as possible) in a head tag(for example an H1, H2 or H4), with the answer immediately below. Take care of a clean code.
Research shows that an answer of about 40 to 50 words is the most successful. The answer can be given in the form of a paragraph, a summary list or a table. Use the correct HTML elements for this.
Tip 4. Always optimize your ranking in organic search results
To come up with an answer on the search results page, fortunately, you do not have to be number 1 in the organic search results with your website. The chance to show your answer is already very big if you are in the top five. Even if you have your website on the first page, it is possible to claim this valuable place.
Ready to take position 0?
The featured snippets offer a great opportunity to be prominently present in the search results with your website. Therefore, get started with the tips above to optimize the content of your website. I am curious about your results. Are you already in position 0?