How to track and capture Featured Snippets for more traffic

Would you like Google to send more traffic to your website? Of course you do. But how can you do it without producing more content, building more backlinks or hiring an SEO expert?

Two words: Featured Snippets.

In this guide, I’ll explain what they are, why you should care and explain the exact steps you can take to access Featured Snippets.

How to rank Featured Snippets in position zero
Here’s a brief summary of some of the tips we’ll be sharing on how to optimize for Featured Snippets:

Target keywords based on questions.
Check whether there is a Featured Snippets in the SERP and what type it is (paragraph, list, table, etc.) using a tool like Ahrefs.
Keep paragraphs and sentences short.
Answer the question as directly as possible.
Structure your content with logical subheadings (H2, H3, H4, etc.).
Use tables to display data.
Include the question in the answer if possible.
Include a summary at the beginning or end of the content.
Now, let’s take a deep dive into the Featured Snippets presented to us.

What is NOT a Featured Snippet?
Just to make things a little confusing, not all features that appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) are Featured Snippets.

For some searches, Google may display special search results. These are NOT Featured Snippets and may include:

Rich Answers
Rich Answers (or Instant Answers) are answers generated by Google that don’t require you to click on a site.

These answers usually cover factual things like the size of Uranus or the height of the Empire State Building (381m, 443m with the antenna if you’re wondering):

Google doesn’t give credit to websites with rich answers like these, because in their view, this information is in the public domain.

Knowledge Graphs
Knowledge Graphs come from a variety of sources and appear on the right-hand side of the SERPs.

Searching for brands, people or organizations triggers them:

Rich Snippet
Although this one contains the word snippet, it has nothing to do with the snippets shown. A Rich Snippet is an enhancement for organic results powered by structured data (or a Schema Markup).

You’ll often see them on eCommerce sites. The aim is to help results stand out thanks to star ratings, product availability and pricing information:

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, did you know that there are actually two or three different types of Rich Snippets?

What are the different types of Snippets?
Featured Snippets come in all shapes and sizes. Five main types to be honest:

Numbered lists
Bulleted lists

Paragraph snippets
Paragraph Snippets are the most common snippets you’ll see. Their job is to provide a direct response to a searcher’s query:

Numbered list snippets
Google usually displays numbered list snippets when it thinks a user wants to see a series of steps in order to accomplish a task, as with this snippet for how to make a muscle-up:

Bulleted list snippets
Everyone loves an article with a list, don’t they? Google is no exception. Take a look at this snippet for data studio templates.

Table snippets
Although less common, Google’s crawlers can read table snippets quite well.

They often don’t retrieve all the information from the table. Instead, it will reformat the snippet’s data into what it deems most useful (and for better readability).

Take the example above for the search term ‘Rate Mortgages’. If you look at the page where the data comes from, you’ll see that Google has removed a large number of rows and columns in order to provide a succinct answer in the snippet.

YouTube snippets
It’s not just from web pages that Google can build snippets, but also from places like YouTube (if it thinks a video better answers the query):

For a query like ‘how to repair a bicycle chain’, video results make sense: it will be more useful to help you by showing you than to read a blog post. It’s something to consider when it comes to creating content for a searcher’s needs.

Why should you care about Featured Snippets? (Hint: to get more clicks)
If you rank in the top ten, you’re in luck: you have a chance of getting a Featured Snippet.

But what’s the advantage?

Well, the most obvious is the number of clicks on your website.

According to a study carried out by Ahrefs on 2 million featured snippets, 8.6% of all clicks go to the Featured Snippet.

In a way, when you rank in a Featured Snippet, you’re “stealing” traffic from other organic results.

Now, consider that the number of keywords displaying a Featured Snippet represents over 12% of all searches, that’s a lot of potential traffic to steal.

Generally speaking, the snippets presented are designed to answer questions.

One of the best ways to reach position zero is therefore to reverse this objective by doing keyword research.

Find question-related keywords and create content that answers those questions…

Answer the questions people are asking
Understanding your audience helps. Finding tons and tons of keywords may not be the best use of your time. Instead, look for the questions people are actually asking.

Free tools like Answer the Public let you generate questions with long-tail keywords very quickly.

Simply enter a keyword (or topic) and it will generate a large selection of questions people are asking, in a visual map divided by type. Don’t worry, there’s also a CSV export option:

Remember, when it comes to researching the questions people ask, use what you know about your target users.

Where do they hang out online? On forums, Quora, Reddit, or specific social channels? The important thing is to go where your potential customers are and look at the questions they’re asking.

Then, all you have to do is create content that answers those questions, which is easier said than done.

And here’s a brief overview of the article’s title structure:

H1 – How to make an application (in 9 steps)
H2 – 1. Sketch out your app idea.
H2 – 2. conduct market research.
H2 – 3. Create mock-ups of your application
This isn’t the whole structure of the article, but just a snapshot to give you an idea.

There’s the general title (H1), which tells us and Google what the page is about. Then there are the sub-headings (H2) which describe in detail certain aspects of a speed test.

If the article wanted to expand on certain information, it could use the H3 headings to go into more detail under their relative H2.

Think of it this way: if someone were to skim your content, would they be able to understand the general meaning of your article by reading only the subheadings?

If you can confidently answer yes, you’re on the right track.

When creating a list, try to make it longer than eight points. Why? Because that’s the maximum Google will display, so it will add a ‘More items’ link. For example:

Once you’ve got your headlines in place, you’ll also want to format the main body of your content. This will depend on the type of information you’re presenting, so here are some quick and flexible rules:

For definitions or answers – use paragraphs
For lists of items or multi-step processes – use bullets or numbered lists.
For data or comparisons – use tables.
And don’t forget, wherever possible, to use relevant images to illustrate and explain.

Getting your content to rank in the Featured Snippet slot in the SERPs can be hard work. Ranking in the top 10 is just as difficult.

But like many things, hard work and perseverance will pay off. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. And if you already have impressive content, featured snippets can be a quick win.

Now get out there and hit some featured snippets. We’d love to hear how it goes in the comments below.

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