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17 May 2021 by Samantha Swanepoel

Okay Google, What are Featured Snippets?

Every website wants to feature on the first page of the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) either with the help of Google Ads or Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) but there is a new contender in the listing game: featured snippets.

Featured snippets, or ‘position zero’, are located at the very top of the SERPs after a query has been searched by a user.

What makes this position unique is that it is determined by Google and Google’s algorithms AND this position cannot be occupied by Google Ads. The featured snippet area is a free game and is designed to provide the user with information that is most closely suited to their search query.

While position zero cannot be bought, it can be influenced by ensuring that your website content is structured in the best possible way to potentially be selected as a featured snippet on the SERPs.

How Featured Snippets Work

Google’s search results page sometimes shows a snippet describing a page before the link to the page. This is the opposite of the standard display format and is referred to as a featured snippet.

The featured snippet format is used when Google’s algorithm determines that this content will be most helpful to answer the questions users have searched for. The snippet usually answers queries starting with who, what, where, when, why or how.

Featured snippets are automatically generated using numerous sources for the structuring of the snippet including information in the page title and meta tags on each page.

Featured snippets have become especially popular for mobile users and voice search queries as it displays the content at the top of the SERPs in a format that is the logically structured to the search query inputted.

The most important thing to understand is that featured snippet content is pulled from pages listed within organic results on the SERPs and typically comes from organic search results in positions two through four.

The good news is that you do not need to occupy the number one position on the SERPs to qualify for a featured snippet AND there is some work you can do to help you snag position zero. 

Different Types of Featured Snippets

The content contained in a featured snippet is structured according to the type of content and the query made by the user. According to research conducted by Search Engine Journal, featured snippets are commonly displayed in one of three formats: paragraphs list or table.

Paragraph Featured Snippets

These are the most common type of snippet which appear for 95% of search queries. It is displayed as an extract taken from a page in an attempt to answer the user’s query. The easiest way to feature for a paragraph snippet is to ensure that your answers are short and to the point similar to the types of answers found on an FAQ page.

Numbered List Featured Snippets

This snippet type lists steps which explain how to do something. The best part about numbered lists is that the user can plainly see that their query can be answered within a few steps increasing the likelihood of a click-through to the featured page.

Bullet List Featured Snippets

These are very similar to numbered list featured snippets and are often displayed when ranking or listing items from a given search query. These types of featured snippets occupy up to 10.77% of featured snippet search queries.

Table Featured Snippets

This is where Google starts to show off their algorithm work. Although tables make up only 28% of search queries featured snippets, they are very useful for answering search queries at a glance. What makes table featured snippets even more impressive is that Google is able to pull this data from a page and construct a table using this data even if the data was not structured the same way on the page.

YouTube Featured Snippets

These are among the newer arrivals in the featured snippet game and, in addition to a description and link, an extract from the video is displayed at a position in the video that is most likely to answer the search query.

Carousel Featured Snippets

This snippet type is becoming more and more common wherein Google suggests related keywords the user may find of interest in bubbles above or below the featured snippet. If one of these keywords are selected, the featured snippet will change to display information relevant to that keyword instead.

How to be Chosen for a Featured Snippet Position

According to Moz.com, 23% of all SERP pages include a featured snippet and this number is continuing to grow. And the best part is that the click-through rate to your page can increase by 7% simply from being listed as a featured snippet in the SERPs.

If you would like your page to be selected for the featured snippet position, start by doing the following:

1. Create Descriptive Page Titles

Page titles provide the user with a quick insight into the content which is displayed on your page and allows them to decide whether or not your page will be relevant to their search query. Google applies a similar premise when determining whether your page content is suitable for a featured snippet.

As such, ensure that your page titles are:

  • Descriptive but concise,
  • Void of keyword stuffing, and
  • Included on every page

2. Create Good Meta Descriptions

The meta description for a web page displays underneath the page title on the SERPs page and provides a short description or overview of the content that can be found on that page.

Often Google uses this information in featured snippets as it is more logical, concise or accurate than the content written on the webpage.

Be sure that your meta descriptions are:

  • Included on every page,
  • Unique to every page,
  • Structured to include descriptions or important information, and
  • Good quality with popular keywords

 3. Answer a Question

As seen by the different types of featured snippets described above, each snippet is structured to answer a particular type of question.

Consequently, if you would like your page to feature in the zero position you need to identify the questions that are being asked and answer these questions in your content.

Be sure to explore the “People also ask” sections below the featured snippets for some help.

These sections will show you the types of long-ended questions users would like the answer to. Use this information to determine what questions need to be answered and be sure to also include popular keywords relevant to these search terms in your content.

4. Use the Correct Formatting

When adding your content, be sure to make use of basic HTML tags.

While this will not guarantee you a featured snippet position on its own, it will help Google’s algorithm to read and process your content more easily.

This formatting includes the following among others:

  • Title tags: "h2" and "h3" for headings
  • Paragraph tags: "p" when structuring your paragraphed text
  • List tags: "ol" , "ul" or "li" for listed items

***

As Google learns and improves its algorithms, featured snippets will frequent the zero position space more and more often. And, with the increasing numbers of voice searches, this search real estate is becoming more sought after by the day.

Need help restructuring your website? Contact the digital marketing team at Online Innovations to help improve your SEO rankings today.

Call us on 041 365 4919, email sales@onlineinnovations.com, or visit our website at www.onlineinnovations.com to find out more.

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