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Featured Snippets: What They Are and How to Win at Them

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Dodgeball seo featured snippets

Featured snippets have become a huge deal, but most marketers really don’t understand them.

However, the few marketers and search engine optimization (SEO) experts who have mastered the snippet game have been able to drive an awful lot of traffic to their websites for free.

Is that something you want to do? Of course it is!

In this article, we’ll explain how you can become a snippet pro so you can earn some of that free search traffic for yourself.

What to Know About Featured Snippets

What Is a Snippet?

Snippets (often referred to as featured snippets) are the bits of text that appear at the top of the Google organic search results right after the ads and sponsored posts. They provide a quick answer to a searcher’s question. Because featured snippets outrank the number-one Google list result, where they are found on screen is often referred to as position zero. Google shows high-quality content in this prominent space because it’s focused on getting searchers the information they want as quickly as possible.

How Do Snippets Drive Traffic to a Website?

To be effective, a snippet must provide enough information for Google to feature it at the top of its organic results. It must also be tantalizing or incomplete enough to get people to want to click on its link and move on to your website to learn more.

The issue for most marketers and SEO experts is finding the fine line between creating snippets that contain enough information to get featured in Google searches while also encouraging people to want or need more, so they click. That’s the challenge — or holy grail — for marketers who want to increase brand awareness and attract organic traffic.

What Does It Take to Become a Featured Snippet?

Earning a featured snippet in Google isn’t as straightforward as gaining top rankings for standard content.

Here’s what it takes to earn one of those position zero rankings.

How to Optimize for Featured Snippets

Find Snippet-Worthy Keywords

Every SEO strategy begins with research, and this one is no different. Start by identifying keywords and phrases that can earn snippet positioning. The keywords must also be terms that people in your target audience are searching for on Google.

Keyword difficulty (KD) is a search metric that rates how hard it is to rank for specific search terms. Find terms that relate to your business with low KD scores. Other brands already own words with high KD ratings and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to beat them. Ones with low scores still present an opportunity for you to earn snippet status for them. Tools like Semrush, KWFinder, and Ahrefs can help you find low-scoring keywords that are right for your business.

The other aspect of picking snippet keywords is determining whether they’re relevant to the people in your target audience. You can do this by figuring out the intent of users searching the keyword or phrase.

  • What’s their goal when they type the term or phrase into Google?

  • Can you link it to the products or services offered by your brand?

  • Does it tie to a consumer pain point your business can help resolve?

Find the term or terms that provide the best combination of low KD and high consumer relevance to begin your snippet quest.

Structure Content so It’s “Snippet Friendly”

Once you figure out your keywords or phrases, create new content, or update current materials so that Google will be more likely to pull snippets from your pieces.

Put simply: Structure your content to meet searchers’ needs.

Your content must answer a question Google users are asking as quickly and directly as possible, right under the first header. The best way to do this is to state the question a Google user is looking for in the second header or H2 headline. This will make it easy for Google to find it when it crawls your page. Then concisely answer the question in the copy below the H2 using your search term prominently and as naturally as possible.

This clear question/answer combination could become a snippet if it’s the best one Google can find on the internet.

Don’t stop there. Make sure the rest of your piece is authoritative, high-quality, and pays off on the snippet. You won’t earn a snippet if the content associated with it doesn’t meet readers’ expectations or align with Google standards.

Improve the Authority of All Your Content

It’s unlikely Google will award you a snippet if you only have one great piece of content on your site. That’s because the search engine will not send users to an online experience that doesn’t have a lot of great content for them to explore.

Quality matters across all your content. It contributes to the overall authority of your domain, which is a key search ranking factor. If you only invest in a few pieces of featured snippet content, you won’t earn snippets because Google won’t trust your overall website experience.

Leverage Your Snippets to the Fullest

If you earn a snippet, you’ll gain a lot of free search traffic from people in your target audience. You owe it to yourself and your business to take full advantage of the boost.

Think through what you want your website visitors to do and make it easy for them to do it. Whether you want them to read more, book an appointment, or purchase something, make your calls-to-action easy to find and understand, and act on.

Not only will it help you monetize your awesome snippet work, but it will also help you maintain your snippet status. If too many people exit your page after reading your content and do nothing else, it could be viewed by Google as a dissatisfying user experience, which could strip it of its zero positioning.

The Final Word About Snippets

Hopefully, it’s clear that snippets aren’t a stand-alone search strategy. Snippets should be thought of as a part of your overall marketing, content, and SEO plan. Getting a single snippet could drive a lot of free, valuable traffic to your website, but it won’t happen if you don’t have a comprehensive and top-quality approach to everything you do.

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