How to Optimize Your Content for Google Featured Snippets

Example of Google Featured Snippets
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When online, people want good information, and they want to find it it fast. And it’s crucial that Google serve up relevant results on the first attempt if at all possible, if they want to keep users coming back.

Google has multiple approaches to indicating relevance, not the least of which being the natural listings. But the Google Featured Snippets section behaves somewhat like a “this is the best answer to your question” statement on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

If you manage to earn a Google Featured Snippet, consider it a privilege and a huge marketing success. Very few websites manage to claim this spot. But it’s not impossible.

Let’s review more information about what snippets actually are, as well as how you might take advantage of the traffic and CTR boosts they provide.

What Are Google Featured Snippets?

Google featured snippets are blocks of content you see at the top of Google’s search engine results page (SERPs) when you type a query. If you use your desktop computer, it contains the following elements:

  • A quick source of information, or the excerpt from the site’s content that is most relevant to the search query
  • The SEO title
  • The link to the page
  • The URL from where Google imported the information

Here is a great example of how it looks:

Example of Google Featured Snippets

Featured snippets exclude meta descriptions, which you will see displayed for the rest of the results that are lower on the SERP.

In a way, featured snippets mean that Google recommends the page or blog post. This should signify to you that the information on that page is very relevant, accurate, and worth reading in depth.

In more professional terms, it means that the website with the featured snippet stands to receive more organic traffic than the other URLs on the SERP.

Only those posts with the highest rankings get to have the privilege of being shown as featured snippets by Google. That is why this spot has come to be referred to as “Position Zero”.

Based on the type of content they display, there are several types of snippets:

  • Text
  • List
  • Video
  • Table

It is important not to confuse Google featured snippets with the Answer Box feature. Although they both provide quick answers to a search query, the Answer Box doesn’t have a link leading to another website and is entirely generated by Google.

13 Tips To Earn Google Featured Snippets

The quality of your content determines whether or not Google will choose your website over others and display featured snippets from your posts.

While there are trends surrounding the types of content that typically makes it into these snippets as shown in the chart below, you can absolutely make it into this highly desirable spot with the right strategies.

Top 30 query types that result in Google Featured Snippets on the SERPs

Start With Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Start with the content on your website. First, is it the best? Most Useful? Fully optimized for search engines? Unique? You’ll want all of these attributes weaved into your own content to see any movement whatsoever.

Remember, Google is picking the very best content to feature in these important spots on the SERPs. Generic content won’t cut it. You need to provide the absolute best.

If your content is not already the best, make it better. Rewrite it if you need to. Replace it even. Then you can take on the SEO tactics below.

If your content itself is remarkable, consult this content optimization checklist for the on page tactics you need. Remember, you have to beat out all competitors and even possibly online publications, so leave no stone unturned.

It pays to use SEO competition research that can show you what your competitors are doing well. This will show you how they got there, and how difficult it might be for  you to usurp them.

Obviously, this process will require deep research and a well-planned marketing strategy. Having great quality content takes time and investment, but a properly executed content marketing strategy will provide you with long-term benefits.

Provide Brief and Precise Answers

Google loves short and straightforward answers. The type of content they tend to include in the snippets averages between 45-and-100 words in length.

Try to keep your explanations, definitions, how to’s, etc. no longer than this length to maximize its potential.

Of course, I’m not saying your posts and pages should be 100 words or shorter. Google prefers longform / cornerstone content. This is the most useful to readers.

That said, keep each section with the info you hope to get into the snippets around that length. It shouldn’t take 300 words to define a term or explain concepts if this is a priority.

Bottom line: Brevity wins with Google Featured Snippets.

Remember that Accuracy and Formatting Matter

Brevity isn’t the only thing that helps you get a snippet. You also need to be as specific as possible.

Be sure your content is factual. Link to experts or research studies with real data. Cite books / journals. You need to be on point across the board to standout from all of the generic, carbon copy content people are publishing on blogs today.

Google prefers content that is useful, but easy for readers to digest. This is where you can get a leg up with formatting.

Don’t write long blocks of text that require a ton of scrolling. Not only is that an awful user experience on mobile (if it’s a long block on desktop, it’s likely the entire viewport on mobile), but it also makes it harder for Google to parse down into a snippet.

When possible, use bullet points, ordered lists, and visuals such as charts. You can also use bolded text or italics to draw attention to key terms in the body copy when you do use paragraphs.

If it helps readers understand your core message more easily, Google will love it even more.

Organize Your Content and Questions

Don’t be haphazard with how you spell out the points you are trying to make. Here are some tips for organizing it better:

  • The main titles should contain the main keyword (e.g. “Skincare”)
  • A specific search query containing a question or a how to should also be in the title (e.g. “How can you protect your skin during winter months?”)
  • The subheadings should answer more specific queries (e.g. “How to moisturize skin during winter?”).

In order to optimize the structure of your texts, you will find tools such as SERPstat, Ahrefs, and SEMrush very helpful.

Make Your Content The Best On Its Topic

You should definitely have good content. But you need more. Your content needs to be above and beyond other domains who might claim position zero for your desired keyword.

This is where creative content writing becomes crucial. Everyone can make a compilation of information taken from relevant sources.

However, only the most talented authors can translate dry data into engaging text, while writing in an SEO friendly manner.

Also, the best writers know the value of examples, anecdotes, metaphors, and stories. If the material is too abstract, most readers will give up on it.

Understand Your Target Audience

We have discussed the importance of buyer personas many times on this blog. As we mentioned then, you have to understand your target audience well to succeed with content marketing and Google Featured Snippets alike.

Professionally speaking, you will struggle to generate quality content without proper audience segmentation. Regardless of your segmentation strategy (static or dynamic), it is necessary to categorize your readers based on things such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Interests
  • Location
  • B2B vs. B2C
  • Life Stage

This is a sampling of the attributes you need to track for your buyer persona(s). You’ll typically want to target specific attributes, and most businesses have 3+ personas that combine multiple different of these attributes.

In terms of your featured snippet, your segmentation analysis should help you understand if your readers are looking for”

  • Specific information
  • A short explanation or definition
  • A comparison
  • A video
  • How to fix a specific problem

With the right audience and needs in mind, you’ll be able to generate quality content that resonates with them AND Google.

The benefits of this approach cannot be understated. You can win a great deal of click thru rate (CTR) upside in position zero vs. the top few organic listings below it as shown below.

Average Click Thru Rate for Google Featured Snippets according to data from Ahrefs

Answer Several Similar Questions On One Page or Post

Once Google features a page, they will feature it again for similar and associated queries.

Therefore, you want your text to cover a series of similar topics, with up to 100 word long paragraphs answering specific questions.

For example, a text about skincare should answer a set questions that are all relevant for healthy skin, such as:

  • Hydrating your skin
  • Nourishing the skin
  • Cleaning the skin
  • Repairing damaged skin

Don’t Forget About Visuals

Featured snippets with visual content are much more engaging than those containing only text. Visuals attract attention with colors and pleasant design. They can transmit much more information in the blink of an eye.

The tricky part about visual content and featured snippets is that you can’t really control which image Google will choose to display in the snippet.

That’s why you need to make sure all of your videos, images, and infographics are relevant and equally good.

Generic graphics simply won’t cut it for getting into snippets. Your designs should be appealing. The content needs to be relevant.

And make sure they are properly branded, so no one can use your visual content without giving you the proper credit.

Constantly Monitor Your Results

If you want to deliver a good content strategy and own some featured snippet real estate, you absolutely MUST monitor performance and marketing metrics. Focus on ensuring that all actions you take are intentional and will support your SEO goals.

In order to become the best of the best, you need to precisely define KPIs and constantly use data analytics to see how well you are at achieving them.

In terms of featured snippets, you want to track which queries are relevant for your domain. It might sound as an easy task, but these queries constantly change. Also, you want your heading tags to contain the most relevant question keywords.

Conclusion: Google Featured Snippets Are Within Your Reach

Google Featured Snippets, a.k.a. Position Zero, are highly coveted across the web. If you want to earn the traffic and CTR boost these can provide, follow these tips carefully. Keep working to improve your approach, monitor how it’s working, and keep the faith.

Before you know it, you’ll figure it out and your website will benefit.


All images provided by the author under his or her own license, or source is cited when taken from elsewhere.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.

This guest post brought to you courtesy of Return On NowProfessional Austin SEO and PPC Services Company.

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Nina Petrov

Nina Petrov is a content marketing specialist, passionate about graphic design, content marketing, and the new generation of green and social businesses. She starts the day scrolling her digest on new digital trends while sipping a cup of coffee with milk and sugar. Her white little bunny tends to reply to your emails when she is on vacation.

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