The way Google traditionally displayed search results in the form of a list of links only is no more driving the expected organic traffic to websites. Every day it is getting challenging to build referral traffic from the search results. It is not only due to the manner of display of search results but also because the competition is getting more intense. Google has also realized the diminishing returns from search results and has taken action to improve the flow of organic traffic by re-organizing the display of search results to include a new feature in the SERP that has higher potential in generating traffic. Featured snippets are the new feature that now appears in SERPs and finds a place at the top of the search list but below the sponsored links or paid advertisements.
You must have observed that in response to search queries Google displays the search results in three distinctive categories. The first category is the standard list of search rankings. The second category is the sponsored links or advertisements that appear at the topmost tier of the SERP. Now, a third category appears in the space between the above two categories in the form of a block that includes summaries of the answers to the queries. The responses collected and curated from the relevant web pages constitute the featured snippets. As the snippets hold strategic position at the top half of the search results page, these have high visibility and garner a lot of attention. As these are the most informative and relevant pages of your search query, the chances of earning clicks are also very high.
Making answers most discoverable
Google’s top agenda that has remained unchanged since its inception is to provide the best user experience in serving them with the most appropriate responses to search queries. In addition, for the convenience of users, Google attempts to make the answers most discoverable. As the potential of the search list in driving organic traffic is reducing, the featured snippets come in handy to increase the visibility of the answers. The prominent display of the snippets capturing the crux of the response displayed inside a box makes it most prominent over all other features of the page. Naturally, the featured snippets receive additional brand exposure in search results.
Studies have shown that placing an answer in the box, the click-through rate (CTR) increases from 2% to 8% and the revenue from organic traffic goes up by 677%.
Types of featured snippets
Google presents featured snippets in three different forms. The first type is the paragraph from which display the summary of the answer curated from the web pages and can comprise of text as well as images. It is the most popular type of display, and 81.95% featured snippets appear in this form. The second type of snippets in the form of a list or bullet points that constitute 10.77% and the third type are table snippets that makeup 7.28%.
Although the snippets display the accompanying link that is most relevant to the search query sometimes Google shows the answer without any mention of the link. Typically it can happen when the query is particular like it relates to the conversion of units when someone asks for the equivalent of dollar and yen. The snippet shows the answer precisely but does not contain any links. That is the reason why sometimes people might confuse featured snippets as answer boxes. While all answer boxes are snippets, all snippets are not answer boxes. Therefore, sticking to the term featured snippet is the norm that the industry follows.
Optimize for featuring in the snippets
Considering the vast potential of highlighted snippets in driving traffic you have to work for making your website appear in featured snippets. A study by Ahref’s reveals that the top 10 ranks of search results appear in featured snippets and if you are one of the lucky guys, your website too would appear in the snippets. However, another study shows that 70% of snippets come from sites that ranked beyond the first position. So, your optimization efforts should aim at ranking your site within the top 10 of the search result. Now, we will discuss what you can do to augment the optimization process for appearing in featured snippets.
It begins with on-page SEO
It is not that you have to do something special for your website to appear in featured snippets, but you have to adhere to the best practices in on-page optimization for SEO because this is the only way to find a place among the top 10 in search results. You should use all the tricks in your bag to make the content most visible and easy to find out. While you can seek guidance from the professionals at New Jersey SEO, here we have listed a few measures that can be very fruitful. Before we proceed, it should be clear that there is no co-relation between structured markup and featured snippets as some people would believe.
Frame concise answers to questions
If you study the pattern of featured snippets and answer boxes, you will observe that Google has a high preference for one paragraph answers that are crisp and precise. Some studies have shown that the maximum length of a paragraph could go up to 97 words, but the average is 45 words. You should follow this yardstick for appearing in featured snippets. However, the length of snippets does not have any relation to the length of content because Google is now in favor of long-form content which is usually of good quality. Long content that is logically structured and broken in different sections and sub-sections with attention-grabbing images constitute good quality content that conveys value to the audience. You can answer more queries through long content. Follow a unique style in creating content by asking questions, providing a short answer first and then elaborating on it in the subsequent paragraphs.
Organize well and present facts
The paragraph in your content that answers the question is critical from the snippets perspective. Google loves to use numbers, lists, and steps and you should follow this pattern in the content that highlights the salient parameters of a process like time to cook, number of steps, the actual ingredients and the city of birth, year. That Google loves structured content is evident from the way it displays the results of branded searches by incorporating a table in the snippet by pulling it from some other site to substantiate the result of the branded content. The better organized, factual and number driven your content is higher is its attraction to Google.
Provide answers to multiple but similar queries in a single article
The page that appears in featured snippets against a specific question is likely to appear for same search queries too. It means that you have to structure the page in a way so that it can provide answers to multiple but related questions and this increase the visibility quotient. Just as Google can recognize the similarities between questions quickly and determine how much synonymous these are, you too should be able to do the same. It is pointless to create separate pages for answering similar type of queries. Instead, create one solid article that covers various aspects that can answer several questions that are identical in the nature of the query hidden under the text. It would increase the chances of grabbing the attention of search engines to find a place in featured snippets.
Prioritize your questions correctly
Since you have to address many closely related questions in one article, you must organize the questions in such way that it meets the user expectations of knowing the first things first and even help to structure the article in a logical sequence.
• Arrange the questions by categorizing the keywords contained in it.
• A category or section of the article could comprise of the generic keyword.
• You can use a specific search query as the title of the article.
• Create subheadings by studying more specific queries that help determine the structure of the article.
• Create a separate subheading to cover multiple closely related queries.
Use images for capturing attention
Finding a place in featured snippets is undoubtedly not your only goal because unless someone clicks on it, your efforts will go waste. To encourage viewers to click on the snippets it has to grab eyeballs for which including images into the snippets can work very well. However, the problem is to know how to do it, and Google picks up images randomly from the page from where it extracts the answer. As you have no control over it to show high-quality image make sure that the photos used in the article are all equally appealing so that no matter what Google selects, it would meet with your approval.
Work hard to be within the top 10 in search results and use the tips to improve visibility and dominate the featured snippets.
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