Featured snippets, rich answers, direct answers – the highly-coveted “position 0” in SERPs.

What are featured snippets, and how can you get your website’s content to show up here? Follow my 5-step checklist to learn how to earn and maintain content that ranks in featured snippets.

What is a featured snippet, anyway?

Featured Snippet

This is an example of a featured snippet, that wonderful box that appears above all the other search results.

Featured snippets are what Google considers to be direct answers to a question a person searches.

These snippets can be shown in multiple formats depending on the query that is searched, and the content that is selected to be featured:

  • Text
  • Lists
  • Charts
  • Tables
  • Text, lists, charts, tables with supporting images

Earning a featured snippet may bring many benefits for your website including:

  • Opportunity for improved organic clickthrough rates and site traffic
  • Thought-leadership from an increase in visibility

Establishing your business as a thought-leader in your industry helps to build trust and authority through the content that your website owns.

What triggers a featured snippet to appear?

Google’s mission is to organize information so that when a person searches for something, the best answer is featured in an accessible and useful way.

Google does not want people that use their search engine having to click to multiple websites searching for the answer they need. When a person is experiencing a moment of need – or micro-moment, Google wants to provide the best supporting answer as quickly as possible.

Featured snippets are the perfect opportunity for Google to showcase an answer to a question – directly at the top of search results.

Now you may be wondering, how are featured snippets any different from the first organic search result that appears through traditional rankings?

Featured snippets provide a direct answer to the question that was searched.

For example, the featured snippet I spoke of earlier.

Featured Snippet

The question “what is structured data” was searched – however the first result was not chosen to be a featured snippet. The 4th result was chosen by Google.

Why???

Although the first 3 results provide strong content that explains how to create structured data, the 4th result provides the most straightforward answer to the question that was searched.

Additionally, the result that was chosen to be highlighted in the featured snippet included an image supporting the content – something that the first 3 results lacked.

How to earn your site a featured snippet

Now that we know what triggers a featured snippet to appear, I’m sure you are wondering what you can do to earn your own featured snippet.

1. Assess your industry and competition

What does your business offer to customers that your competition does not? Try thinking about your business goals, and what you want your customers to know about how you can help them.

Perform some keyword research to determine what customers are searching for about your industry. Specifically, what questions are people asking that are relevant to your industry.

Once you have narrowed down some of these questions – Google them.

What comes up? Are any of your competitors showing up?

If they are – think about the type of content that you can provide that better answers the question.

2. Write timely and relevant content

Now that you have narrowed down what your customers are searching for, write a piece of content that supports the question.

Think about writing in a way that is easily digestible for someone, and write in a fashion that featured snippets support – lists or tables are a good starting place. Utilize heading tags to specifically call out the question you are answering.

Additionally, including a date and author within your content can help to earn a snippet – the example above included both and can be considered timely and relevant to Google.

Don’t forget to include an image to support your content where applicable – this can be used in the featured snippet as well.

3. Mobile-friendliness

It is important to remember that Google is shifting to a mobile-first mentality. If your site is mobile-friendly and supports a strong user experience on any device, you are more likely to earn a featured snippet spot.

Essentially, content that can be supported in a mobile-friendly design is easily digestible for people reading on a small screen. Content that is well organized and accessible can also be considered “snipp-able” – and is more likely to be used in a featured snippet.

4. Structured data

Structured data is becoming more and more important in search, because it provides additional information to people while they are searching through results.

Including structured data on your website, as well as within the content you are hoping to earn a featured snippet with, may help this process.

Going back to my earlier example of the search “what is structured data” – the result that was shown in the featured snippet had a large amount of structured data markup on their site.

Specifically, structured data that supported the blog post itself, the image that was featured, and the author of the post was included. This may have aided Google’s process in choosing the featured snippet, since this structured data gave Google even more information about the content itself.

Structured data may or may not help you earn a featured snippet, but the more organized information you can provide to Google, the better chance you have.

5. Website functionality and ongoing maintenance

Lastly, earning a featured snippet may come down to website functionality, and the lack of technical issues. If Google is looking at your site next to your competition, you want to be sure that your website does not have any technical issues that may cause your competition to earn the spot.

If your page does not load properly, it would be difficult for someone to read your content – therefore Google may not highlight it in a featured snippet.

How can I keep a snippet?

Earning a snippet is hard, but keeping that snippet is even more difficult.

Maintaining your website on an ongoing basis is important, especially if you have already earned a featured snippet spot. You do not want to risk the chance of losing a featured snippet due to poor site functionality.

Regularly checking and optimizing your website should already be a part of your routine, and can determine whether you keep your snippet or not.

Additionally, build your content so that it encourages clickthroughs.

For example, if you create content for a snippet that includes a list of items, the snippet may include truncated content (or content that gets cut off) – that will encourage people to click through to your website to read the rest.

If Google sees that a snippet is receiving a lot of engagement, that is more of a reason for them to keep showing the snippet.

Are you ready to start writing?

Remember, featured snippets are there to help people in search to quickly find an answer to their question. Create your content to help your audience find what they need.

Keep this checklist in mind to help your site earn a featured snippet:

  1. Assess your industry and competition
  2. Write to answer your audience’s questions
  3. Provide a strong user experience for mobile
  4. Include structured data
  5. Perform ongoing website maintenance

Now it’s time for you to start writing! Follow along with this checklist the next time you hope to earn a featured snippet.

If you would like to talk more about how to earn a featured snippet, reach out to us today!

Alex Prestipino

About Alex Prestipino

Alex monitors and plans strategies and campaigns surrounding SEO, SEM, social media and analytics for our clients as a Digital Marketing Strategist at Liquid. When she’s not working or studying for her Master’s degree, Alex enjoys playing golf and the piano, and spending time with friends and family.

Published Mar 29, 2017