Google’s Featured Snippets – How to Use Them to Your Advantage

Advice How To Build Links Without Getting Penalized By Google

Have you ever noticed a box that sometimes appears on top of your search results when you type a query? Featured Snippets is no secret anymore. Since the past decade, Google has invested more resources than ever to improve user experience on their platform with the best of features any search engine can offer. However, in order to understand, learn and practice these guidelines for Featured Snippets, you must first understand what they really are.

What a Featured Snippet Looks Like

A Featured Snippet is the box that appears on the top of SERPs. It is a black outlined box that contains answer to the user query in the most helpful way possible. Configuring snippets is an important step in web design in order to attract user attention in Google SERPs. For instance, a search query that inquires about the method of making pancakes would go like this:

Typed Search Query: HOW TO MAKE PANCAKES?

• In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.
• Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake.

The answer will be accompanied by its website link at the bottom of the box like this:

Hubspot Research Findings:

We also reviewed another research conducted by hubspot.com executive Mathew Barbie and his team regarding search queries that were affected by Featured Snippets from Google.

The research was based on 4,713 different search queries in which #1 and #5 rankings were taken by hubspot.com on the first page of Google.

He noticed the queries included “how to,” “how do,” “how does” or “what is” which reflected Google’s preferences in finding these searches and ranking their content in Featured Snippets.

After testing the queries with Stone Temple, it was found that between 850,000 question-based queries, about 19% were used in Featured Snippet.

Seeing this, Mathew analyzed the 4,713 queries based on their SERPs to find the presence of Featured Snippets. After the analysis, it was found that 29% (1361 out of 4713) had Featured Snippet present. The rest of 71% was either devoid of Feature Snippet or presented the data in a definition box that did not link to a page.

What Makes your Content Appear in Featured Snippets?

After seeing the results from Hubspot queries, we researched on what made the content admissible for Featured Snippets. Our team identified these 4 things that every Featured Snippet contained.

1. It focused on a basic yet popular question the coincided with the website’s market area
2. The answer to that query was simple and easy to digest for majority of users
3. Most of these Featured Snippets offered a little extra value content to the query
4. Bigger answers with Step1, step 2 and Step 3 etc. format was prevalent
5. The content within box was all too easy to be ranked by Google

What is it That You Must Do to Get Your Content in Featured Snippets?

Seeing thing from a webmaster’s perspective, there are two sides featured snippets as presented by Google. First, snippets are a challenge to online publishers since they diminish the need of the user to click on the site. Second, ecommerce sites are given a new opportunity to maximize exposure to informational queries.

We have summarized this post in an easy to understand Guide that will show you how to optimize your content for featured snippets

Step 1. Learn About your Users – Know What They Are Asking

Any query that sounds like a question will most likely be avoided by Google in quick answers box. The key of understanding how the featured snippet position is acquired is not much of an SEO secret. However, its highly dependent on your own homework about users and what they seek nowadays in your niche.

Step 2. Research on Which Questions Are Typed More Popularly on Google

Knowing what customers seek on search engines is the cardinal factor that determines if the query will be answered on quick answers search box. There are several tools available to find out what is trending on the internet. SerpStat is an excellent tool that helps return Google Suggest Phrases. The best part about this tool is that the website visitors can use “Only questions” filter to verify all questions which are currently being searched about with the help of your base keyword.

This saves you from the unnecessary hassle of skimming through other content and manually looking up the SERPs in search of top queries.

Step 3. Examine Your Current Referrals

Those pages that already rank in the top 5 slots of search engine results are mostly seen in featured snippets. You can explore Webmaster Tools “Search Analytics” section to indentify your site pages that contain the maximum potential to qualify for quick answers box. You can also use Google Analytics top search referral landing pages’ reports pin point those pages. In order to view your question-related queries in Google Webmaster Tools, filter “Queries” by different question words that you are researching after going to Search Traffic -> Queries.

Aside from the tools given by Google, another useful web analytics solution ‘Brightedge’ can be used. The beauty of this tool is that it tracks if your website is showing in “quick answer” boxes.

Step 4. Ask People by Contacting Them Online and Physically

You can also approach people online directly or use the physical medium to acquire user preferences and what are their top priorities nowadays when it comes to question based queries on search engines. Blogs, forums and social media channels are best sources to do this online, while questionnaires and interviews can be conducted for physical research. On many instances, trends have influenced people to search for queries on particular area or field. For instance, when the 4G technology had surfaced, people were curious to know what capabilities it had and how fast were they talking about. As a result, the search queries regarding 4g increased. Now if you search, ‘What is 4G technology’ you will still see a featured snippet that answers the query in quick answer box.

Step 5. Use Social Media to Track Queries

Among social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter are highly resourceful to acquire user-generated content especially “how-to”. Among the two, I would choose the latter given that Facebook does not have any feature in specific to monitor what people are up to, whereas for Twitter it’s easy as cake. To make this even easier, you can use add-ons and tools to enhance your searching capabilities. Cyfe is a convenience in this matter. Cyfe helps monitor phrases and other related content about question people mostly tweet. The best thing about this application is that it saves the widget results so webmasters can track the content or go back to anytime and search in the archived for inspirational content.

Step 6. Add a QA section to Your Website

Unarguably, the best method of making sure your content ends up on featured snippets is none other than adding a QA section dedicatedly on your website.

Here are useful tips on how you can optimize that content.

• Make your question visible and explicit on the page
• Do not take more than 2 sentences to answer your question
• Your content must be relevant to the question and subject. Make sure your answer contains profound explanation of the query and keeps relevancy and length uncompromised.
• Create a dedicated page for your questions and try to add the query in the URL slug for improved SEO.

Conclusion

Featured Snippets is undoubtedly one of the best paths to get your pages the exposure they deserve. They help bring your content into the limelight while at the same time help the users with their specified query without taking them to the actual page. Many top brands hire expert web developer to configure snippets for their websites and achieve the desired results. By using the guideline, we have provided you, you can succeed in adding your content in featured snippets and bring more traffic to your web pages.

Written by simonwalker

Simon Walker is an experience ecommerce consultant having experience of 7+ years in the ecommerce industry. He currently works at FMEextensions – a premium Magento website development company, which provides Magento consulting services to their clients across the globe.

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