Featured Snippets: An FAQ
Google’s featured snippets are a hot topic in SEO right now, but do you know what they are and how you can get one?
What is a Featured Snippet?
When you ask Google a question like, “Why is the sky blue?”, you’ll get the typical Google results page plus an added bonus: a short blurb (generally about a paragraph long) containing the answer to your question taken directly from the website linked to at the bottom of the snippet. No extra clicking, no hunting for a site that seems legit, just the information you want as quickly as possible.
That’s a featured snippet, and it’s chosen by Google and taken directly from the webpage referenced and linked to below the snippet.
Is There More Than One Kind of Snippet?
Yup! Although the vast majority of featured snippets appear in paragraph form, you may also see a list or a table displaying the requested information.
Google also has other blurbs that aren’t technically featured snippets, though they often occupy the same section of digital real estate. If you ask Google, “What is there to do in Cleveland?’, you’ll get a carousel-like photo gallery highlighting some of Cleveland’s key attractions. Search for “Bruno Mars songs” and you’ll get a clickable list of the artist’s biggest hits, but these blurbs aren’t always credited.
Why is it Beneficial to Land a Spot as a Featured Snippet?
Sites lucky enough to be the source for a featured snippet get to roar past the competition thanks to a heaping helping of perceived authority. It’s like being endorsed by Google; what better way to show consumers your brand is the real thing than to sit at the top of the very first Google results page?
In terms of traffic, featured snippets are kind of a catch 22. An Ahrefs study found that a featured snippet actually steals clicks from the site occupying the top spot on the results page. If you’re not in the top spot, it’s kind of nice to steal traffic from the competition, but if your site ranks #1, you could lose traffic by being a featured snippet as searchers already have the info they need without clicking through.
How Can I Score a Featured Snippet?
First, you need to land in the top 10 Google search results for the target keyword—that’s Google’s hunting ground, so to speak. Once you’re there, you have a good shot getting to #0 (that’s how experts refer to the featured snippet slot) whether you otherwise rank at #1 or #8. Yes, top-ranked sites are more likely to be featured, but it’s far from a foregone conclusion.
To increase your odds of being featured:
- Conduct thorough keyword research
- Focus on long-tail keywords phrased in the form of a question (make sure they start with “why,” “how,” “what,” etc.)
- Look at the “People also ask” box Google puts below the featured snippets to see what the search engine views as related topics
- Work on tweaking/improving pages that already rank well rather than trying to push a low-ranked page all the way to the top
What Else Do I Need to Know?
A couple of things:
- One site can score multiple featured snippets—in that same Ahrefs study referenced above, researchers found one high-performing website had a staggering 4,658 featured snippets
- If you’re in the DIY, health, or finance niches, you have a better chance of being featured
- Google likes concise answers, so try to deliver key info in a single, snippet-friendly paragraph and expand on your points later