Google is about providing useful, accessible information to its users as quickly as possible. That’s why featured snippets (direct answers to queries featured at the top of a search page) have more than doubled in the past year.
But marketers have looked to featured snippets with skepticism. After all, if a visitor can get the info they need without visiting your site, won’t this hurt traffic?
Nope. In fact, studies show that just the opposite occurs. When your site’s content is used in a featured snippet, users are more likely to visit your site for more information.
You can rank for these featured posts, and there are a few tricks that can increase your chances.
Let’s get into how to do it:
Determine a common question in your field
This is a tried-and-true content strategy that seasoned marketers lay at the top of their toolkits.
You need to answer common questions that are related to your field.
Here’s the trick - these questions need to be simple (something a user would enter into a search query) - but not too simple.
Your strategy is going to lie in giving an authoritative answer that will drive users to visit your site for more information once they’ve gotten the baseline answer.
Clearly ask that question in your content
Once you’ve figured out your simple, common, but not-too-direct question, ask it clearly in your content.
Incorporating this chosen question is key when it comes to snippet optimization.
You need to use a question format like, “Who were the winners of the Europa Champions League in 2012?”
Be clear, direct, and concise.
Use your question in at least one header.
It works for keywords, and it’ll work for your snippet optimization as well.
Wrapping the question in an <h3> tag can help your chances of gaining a featured snippet.
It’ll not only help Google recognize that you’re answering this question, it will be provide the focus of your page to your readers.
Provide a clear, concise answer to that question.
We’re not writing a college thesis here: featured snippets are usually drawn from short-form content.
It’s about providing a clear and direct answer. The info you share should be straight, short, and to-the-point.
Two or three sentences should be enough for your answer, especially because you don’t want it to be “chopped off” in the snippet box.
If brevity is the soul of wit, it’s the backbone of featured snippet optimization. It's the same tactics Jamil Velji used to answer question related to app analytics tools - and got tremendous results.
Provide more in-depth information following your direct answer
But, now that you’ve answered the question simply, clearly, and directly, why not provide a little more info for the readers who chose to visit your page (and for Google)?
Take the opportunity to rank for content, and provide information beyond what would appear in your featured snippet.
Of course, make sure the information you provide is well-researched and written. When readers do find you via your featured snippets, they’ll be happy they did!
Make use of lists or table markup
What’s more concise than a good list or table?
When relevant, use one. They help readers scan content quickly, and will be appreciated.
They also increase the chances of your snippets being featured by a full 41.6%.
Create content around the costs of your products or services.
People are interested in how much things cost.
Develop content that’s centered around the cost of your products. It’s likely to increase its chances of being used for a featured snippet.
This is also the kind of answer that will drive users to visit your site. They’ll see how much a product or service costs, and they’ll want to check in and read more about it.
This applies to those who have a product or service based business and those who simply publish content on their blog.
Use understandable language
As a general rule, write for the user - not Google.
You’re looking to communicate to your readers. Keep the 10 cent words and complex sentences out of your snippets (and your content in general). You want to be at about an 8th grade reading level - and that’s at most.
Good communication can only serve to enhance the user experience. Your readers will appreciate simplicity while they’re searching for an answer.
Re-optimize pages that are already ranking highly
If your page ranks lower than fifth, the chances of your snippets being featured are minimal.
If you’re off the first page entirely, your chances are even less.
Check your analytics. Find out which of your pages are already ranking among the top five, and look for related questions and keywords you can answer and optimize.
Build internal links on those pages that rank at the top. And don’t stop there - once you’ve done this, keep going with other on-page optimization strategies. If these are local pages targeting local consumers, you can use this local SEO checklist to re-optimize them.
Create Q&A pages
There are featured snippets that contain more than one question and answer.
They also have related questions. The featured snippet for “what’s the world’s richest economy” contains an answer for the world’s poorest economy as well.
It’s about providing the reader with enough information to entice them to visit your site.
Featured snippets aren’t going anywhere, and it’s been shown that they can absolutely drive traffic to your site.
Of course, this guide is just the start to getting more page views. But why not take advantage of what’s out there?