With featured snippets, Google aims to make organic ranking more dependent on content marketing.
For those who have money to pour into a PPC campaign, programmatic advertising is the way to go forward. But those who eye at organic content should leverage featured snippets.
In this article, we’ll discuss featured snippet in details and retrieve the takeaways for digital marketers.
You must be wondering whether featured snippet requires the structured data markup tags, similar to rich snippets.
It doesn’t. There’s no way you can mark a page as a featured snippet. This is what Google said in its blog:
“Google programmatically determines that a page contains a likely answer to the user's question, and displays the result as a featured snippet.”
However, adding the markup tags to existing HTML is always a good idea.
See the screenshot below:
The search query was “apple pie recipe.” Google showed a featured snippet and a rich snippet on the same page.
The two pages are from two different sites. What if they were from the same site? In that case, the site would have received outstanding visibility. Hence, gaining a featured snippet can be your primary objective, but if the content is the review, music, organization details, about celebrities or events, products or recipe, add rich snippet tags.
Getting a featured snippet
Structured data can be more than markup tags. Google scours organic content for the original info, consistency, structural organization and semantic resemblance. Google may use the content for featured snippet upon finding all these.
To get a featured snippet, highlight certain properties in the content. Such properties include:
- Connected phrases
- Contextual assertion
- Secondary information
These are the properties that configure a logical consortium of data. Google interprets this consortium as a context-driven connection.
Such a connection can be created by content alone. John Mueller already indicated that structured data can be a ranking factor in the future. Ranking has become almost entirely content dependant now. Quality content can prompt Google to bring a site in top rank or even index a new site. Featured snippets can also rely solely on content hacks. Those include following items.
Creating user-friendly content
Time spent on a site is an indicator of whether the onsite content is user-friendly or not. Here are the insights Google receive when visitors spend more time on a site and visit more pages:
- The site content is relevant to the search query, the visitor used.
- The site has the potential to get returning visitors.
- The site has a smooth navigation, aided by a rich xml sitemap.
- The site features additional information for visitors.
Such sites are likely to be used for featured snippets by Google. So, put relevant content on the site, improve the navigation and add as much information as you can.
Harness the power of heatmaps and surveys. Heat-mapping is more like a QA test for the layout, allowing you to spot the areas which are getting most attention and clicks from visitors. The F-pattern below are the results of heatmap tests:
Surveys connect you to visitors. Their inputs can educate you about the improvements that the content and the design elements need.
As you improve the browsing experience, the site registers user-engagement, convincing Google that it has pages with user-friendly content, which are deserving candidates for being used as featured snippets.
There are three ways to generate keyword ideas for featured snippet:
- Related questions: The Mozcast Feature Review includes related questions in the featured content list. Related questions appear in the SERP. Google’s SERP feature graph shows related questions appear more frequently than featured snippets. See the graph below:
You can use related questions as keyword ideas.
- Study the industry: Suppose you are writing on mortgage and your target keyword is “mortgage calculator.” By studying the mortgage industry, you get to know “mortgage rates”, “mortgage interest”, “mortgage insurance”, “mortgage refinance” are the related keywords.
- Long-tail variations: Experts recommend using long-tail keywords alongside target keywords. The additional keywords increase the reach of the content and add extra information, both of which are critical to gain a featured snippet.
It’s easy to think of a long-tail variation of a keyword. For example, the long-tail version of the keyword “mortgage refinance” can be “when to refinance the mortgage.”
The keyword ideas, generated this way, guide you through the whole content creation process. You create the content around the keywords, add more information and get more incoming traffic.
How-to in heading tags
More often than not, featured snippets appear in the SERP when a searcher includes “How-to” in the search query. This is a takeaway for every inbound marketer out there. Adding “How-to” to the heading tags can increase the chances of the page being used for a featured snippet, especially if the search query has “How-to” in it.
See the screenshot below:
The search query was “shoot arrows.” The red marked URL appeared on the SERP. Google didn’t display any featured snippet.
Now see the screenshot below:
This time, the search query was “how to shoot arrows.” Google used the site that appeared in the SERP in Figure 1 as a featured snippet. Notice the page has “how-to” in the heading tag. Another takeaway from this finding is ranking in SERP escalates the odds of getting a featured snippet.
Hence, include “how-to” in the title and also in the heading tags.
Ordered list and paragraph
A featured snippet is mostly in the form of a paragraph or an ordered list. In Figure 1, the snippet is a paragraph. In Figure 5, it’s an ordered list.
This crucial observation demands you to create paragraphs as elaborate answers to possible search queries and add ordered lists. The STAT search analytics shows the frequency of ordered list’s appearance in featured snippet was 41.6%.
The easy way to inform Google that the list is an ordered list is to add the <ol> tag. It’s an HTML tag and its schematic form when used as list attribute is <ol class=“list”>. If you have a WordPress site, I suggest you should check the HTML version of the content before making it live. Sometimes, numbering types have the <p> tag.
Remember, getting a featured snippet is not an alternative to ranking. Rather, one supplements the other. Hence, consolidate your ranking goals and your efforts to gain a featured snippet. Anyways getting ranked well depends on the website template you're using, opting for a seo-optimized website template will help you instantly improve your rankings.