Google constantly improves how it displays results and we’ve seen an increase in the number of SERP features, often pushing organic results further down the page.
It’s no secret that building referral traffic from Google is becoming harder and harder due to the intense competition.
Still, with an estimated 9 billion Google searches daily, businesses have endless opportunities to offer relevant content that answers searchers’ queries.
So how can you make your perform better in Google? Well, in this guide, you’ll learn why and how to optimize content for featured snippet boxes.
What Is Google’s Featured Snippet Box?
The featured snippet box, also called the answer box, is a SERP Feature that appears in the first position of Google’s organic results just below the ads.
Google’s featured snippet box is created to answer searchers’ questions right there in the search results.
This happens without the user clicking the page where the content lies.
For example, search “What is content marketing?” on Google and several items will show up. Four paid ads appear at the page’s top right, giving them primary exposure.
And just below the ads, there’s a box wherein “Content marketing’ in written in bold, and a text appears that offers a definition of that term. This is Google’s featured snippet box, often referred to as “position 0” by SEOs
Note that Google’s featured snippet box isn’t paid advertising. Instead, it’s totally organic.
If you are a marketer or an SEO expert, you know how important it is to rank on the first page of SERPs.
While there are several search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Duck Duck Go, and Microsoft), I’m focusing on Google because it claims about 92% of the global search engine market share.
If you’re featured in Google’s snippet box, it means that your brand will get additional exposure in search results.
Regularly, a “people also ask” box shows up below the featured snippet to help searchers find more relevant content related to their query.
Why Is Google’s Featured Snippet Box Important?
The most obvious answer is that Google’s featured snippets are the largest attention grabbers and are impossible to miss, especially on mobile devices.
A recent study by EngineScout revealed that featured snippets receive around 35% of all clicks.
Here are the benefits of Google’s featured snippet box and why you may want to optimize your content for it:
- It increases brand awareness and credibility. When your blog post or web page is in position 7 or 8 of SERPs, you’ll not have as much traffic as other pages positioned on top of SERPs. The top position gets approximately 27.6% of all clicks, so getting featured in the snippet box puts it above the organic results at the top. If your brand appears in the organic results, your overall brand awareness is increased across a vast audience of Google search networks. Appearing as the top answer to industry questions increases your brand’s credibility and trustworthiness.
- It ensures visibility. Even if your SEO content is ranked lower on the search engine page, featured snippets offer you more visibility. Your content will be the first thing searchers will see when seeking answers to their questions.
- It provides relevant data to searchers. Google’s featured snippets offer relevant, easy and quick answers to searchers’ questions.
- It increases traffic to your website. The most obvious benefit of getting Google’s featured snippet box is increased traffic to your site. When your content is featured in a visual segment that stands out from a long list of blue links, you’ll likely draw attention and earn click-throughs to your pages.
- It positions your brand as a topical authority. When your content attracts more people searching for topics related to your brand, it increases the average time spent on your site. Also, if your links boost your rankings to win the featured snippet box, the overall authority of your site is improved.
- It optimizes your content for voice search. Did you know that thousands of consumers use voice search for information about local businesses? If you optimize content for a featured snippet box, Google uses your answers for tons of search queries. This ultimately increases brand visibility and brand authority in the niche that you’re ranking for.
There’s one potential downside to the featured snippet, of which you should be aware.
Sometimes a featured snippet can be so complete that a searcher has no reason to click through to the site. This situation is known as a zero click search and it can be frustrating when your main priority is getting traffic.
How to Optimize Your Content for Google’s Featured Snippet Box
Optimizing for Google’s featured snippet isn’t just about including questions in your headings or subheadings. There’s much more action involved.
Every SEO professional and content marketer aims to be recognized by Google and secure that coveted number-one spot in the search rankings. Obtaining the first spot, however, isn’t a walk in the park, considering that your competitors are constantly optimizing their sites and generating new content in a bid to achieve the same results.
Thankfully, appearing first in SERPs isn’t the only way to get your brand noticed by your target audience.
A better way to grab your target audience’s attention is by earning your spot in Google’s featured snippet box.
So, what can you do to increase your chances of getting featured in Google’s featured snippet box? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to optimize for featured snippets.
- Discover your competitors featured snippets. Monitoring your competitors is a critical element in any content marketing strategy and an easier way to identify Google-featured snippet opportunities. Existing featured snippets help you identify the keywords to target and ‘steal’ that featured snippet from your competition. Researching a topic in MarketMuse reveals whether a featured snippet is available. Examine the content that has the featured snippet to better understand what Google values when awarding the snippet.
- Make a list of common questions in your niche. The Questions tab in MarketMuse research shows you the relevant questions users have when searching this topic. Otherwise, you’ll need to do this manually. Check related questions in FAQs, related searches and ‘people also ask’ sections and create a list of essential questions. For example, by checking the image below, I searched for the ‘best family planning method’, and you can see a featured snippet. Creating a list of the most effective contraceptives can help you win the snippet.
Besides, the ‘people also ask section’ gives you related questions with additional featured snippet opportunities.
- Create relevant content that answers those questions. Once you recognize the search intent and determine your content topic and keyword, offer that information in simple steps. Create content that aims at answering your searchers’ needs. There are four key search intent categories, as defined by Google:
- Know. What SEOs typically refer to as Informational. Here, users are searching for information. For example, they could type ‘what is social media crisis management?’
- Transactional. The searchers here want to make a purchase. An example is ‘the best SEO tools for beginners’.
- Website Query. What SEOS frequently call navigational. These users search for a specific brand or page related to the service or product they are looking for. For instance, someone could search “Marketmuse pricing plans“. Here, the visitor only wants to see the pricing page for Marketmuse.
- Comparison. These users search for a specific service or product but are still weighing options and probably looking for ratings or reviews. Here, the question could be structured as “MarketMuse reviews.”
Drafting valuable and relevant content that satisfies each search intent increases your chances of winning Google’s featured snippet box for that particular search query.
- Use long tail keywords and questions in headings. Long tail keywords and question-like keywords trigger featured snippets in their SERPs. Thanks to features like Google Voice Search, search questions are becoming longer, specific , and conversational. In return, these questions form targeted keywords that tend to be in question-like or long-tail-like formats. If you optimize your content around these longtail and question-like keywords, Google will likely use them as potential answers and display them as featured snippets for that particular question. How great!
- Format your content. Google appreciates well-structured content. If your content isn’t structured in a way that’s simple and easy to consume and follow, it’ll be difficult for Google search crawlers to notice your brand. A good rule of thumb is to place the search query or keyword in header tags (H1, H2, H3). This helps Google know which topics and keywords are covered on each page. More ways to format your content for featured snippets include:
- Have descriptive H1, H2, and H3 headers with direct answers under them. Ideally, place the answer immediately after the headers and make it under 55 words long.
- Use numbered lists, tables, bullet-pointed lists, or graphs for list-featured or table-featured snippets.
- Use short, powerful sentences that provide concise and precise answers for paragraph snippets.
- Use relevant and high-quality images alongside the snippet question you’re answering.
- Use solid SEO best practices. Content that appears on Google’s featured snippets is pulled from pages with high organic search rankings. Strong SEO practices boost your site’s organic ranking.
There are several benefits of Google’s featured snippet box. Getting to Google’s featured snippet box and appearing on the first page of SERPs is an incredible opportunity to improve your site’s organic visibility and increase overall traffic.
The most obvious way of increasing your chances of getting to Google’s featured snippet box is by producing high-quality content that Google will love. Moreover, discovering your competitors’ featured snippets, recognizing each user’s intent and creating content that aligns with the intent are equally important.
So, if you want to increase click-through rates and drive more traffic to your site, follow the above tips to secure Google’s featured snippet position.
What you should do now
When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:
- Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
- If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
- If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.