So you nailed SEO, optimized your blog posts, and reached the first page of Google search results. Your traffic is growing gradually, but it still leaves much to be desired.
You keep looking for new ways of driving more visitors to your website, and the sudden thought strikes you… featured snippets!
Right, getting the so-called “Position Zero” would help you outrank your competitors and become more visible in search results. There is just one problem—you won’t win it overnight.
So, in an effort to figure out how to optimize your site for capturing featured snippets, you start reading various articles on the topic. But like any other subject, featured snippets carry certain expectations and misconceptions.
So I’m here to set the record straight.
In this post, I will:
- highlight the most popular expectations that arise when you first face featured snippets
- walk you step-by-step through the process of optimization for featured snippets
Expectation 1: Featured snippets will increase your site traffic dramatically
Website owners start bothering about featured snippets mostly due to the fact it could be a great source of traffic. But what if I told you that winning a featured snippet doesn’t necessarily result in sharp traffic increase?
According to Ahrefs, a regular #1 ranking page with no featured snippets above it drives ~26% of all clicks. When there’s a featured snippet in the search results, it gets ~8.6% of all the clicks, while the page right below gets ~19.6%.
In the result, featured snippets steal clicks from the #1 search result, which is absolutely worth the candle if you don’t take the first position.
And what if your page is already ranking #1 in Google search results? Then, it’s worth optimizing for featured snippets to prevent your competitors from stealing your traffic… but don’t expect much of an increase.
Expectation 2: Once you win a featured snippet for one query, Google will rank you #0 position for other similar queries
Getting a featured snippet for a specific question doesn’t mean your page will become a featured snippet for the similar search queries.
For instance, here’s how Google somehow decided that a cheesecake made by Cookies and Cups’s recipe would be more delicious than the one by Allrecipes’s instructions:
Expectation 3: Google will support your answer with a relevant image from your post
This issue is a subject of wide discussions among SEO experts and webmasters. The problem is that Google often creates featured snippets with the text from one website and the image from another site.
You can provide quality, eye-catchy images in your content, but there’s no guarantee one of them will be selected to illustrate your answer in the featured snippet.
However, this issue has a positive side as well. As Google adds other sites’ images to your answer boxes, it might place your pictures (with what’s most important: your link) in your competitors’ featured snippets.
Expectation 4: By providing clear content structure, you are most likely to win a featured snippet
Getting a featured snippet is 50% a matter of luck. Nobody can guarantee you winning one. With an increasing amount of quality content these days, the search engine can’t give every web page a featured snippet.
But you can increase your chances following these simple steps.
How to optimize for Google’s featured snippets
If you want to capture a featured snippet spot, this step-by-step instruction will help you reach your goal.
Step 1: Research the Opportunities
Studies claim that Google only features pages from the top 10 search results. So, start with identifying the queries your web pages are already ranking for on the first page of search results.
To quickly find these search queries, just use your preferred SEO tool. I’ll go with Serpstat. As it has the largest domain analytics databases, it provides me with the most comprehensive information.
(RELATED: Our Favorite Keyword Research Tools (17 Tools Every SEO Needs))
Enter your domain into its search field, select your country, and click on Search. When you see the Overview report, go to Positions. Apply filters “Domain’s position for a keyword > Between > 1 and 10” and “Special elements in SERP > Includes > Featured snippet.”
The report will show you the list of queries your domain is ranking in the top 10, positions, search volume, URLs showing up for these keywords, and more.
Once you identified the pages and keywords to target, it’s time to optimize your content.
Step 2: Collect Question-Based Queries
Google creates featured snippets to provide a direct answer to users’ search questions. That’s why question-based queries are so popular when it comes to optimizing for featured snippets.
There are several methods that will help you collect question-based keywords for your content:
- Search for your target keyword on Google and look through People also ask. These boxes provide questions related to the searcher’s initiate query:
You can choose the questions you’ll target with your content to win more featured snippets.
- Use Answer the Public The platform will show you all the questions people ask on search engines using the queried keyword.
- Research with your SEO tool. Such keyword research tools as Serpstat and Ahrefs let you quickly find question-based keywords.
Of course, I’m not saying you should optimize for question-based keywords only. Enlarge your list with generic keywords (including long-tail ones), comparisons, etc.
Step 3: Develop an Effective Content Structure
Your content structure affects your chances for winning a featured snippet a lot. Breaking your content into subtopics, you’ll help search crawlers extract the crucial elements on your pages and form featured snippets.
Here are a few recommendations that will help you develop a structure that could fit a featured snippet:
- Analyze your competitors’ featured snippets to see which content structure works the best
- Always use H1, H2, and H3 subheads in your posts
- Utilize the following content styles:
- Bullet points
- Step-by-step guides
- Add your target keywords and questions to your subheads
Step 4: Add Related Keywords and Synonyms
People use different word combinations to search for the same things. Consider it when optimizing your content for search engines.
To find related queries and synonyms that you could add to your content, research your target keyword with one of the above-mentioned tools.
With Serpstat, the pattern is pretty simple: enter the keyword into its search field, select your country, and go to the Related Keywords section. To collect the keywords that result in featured snippets, apply filter “Special elements in SERP > Includes > Featured snippet.” Here’s a list of search terms that are semantically connected to the queried keyword.
Look through the list of related keywords and collect those you could add to your content.
PRO Tip: If the list is too large and you want to cover several subtopics with your content, I’d recommend trying keyword clustering.
Keyword clustering is a process of segmenting your target search queries into groups based on their semantic similarity.
To group your queries, you should:
- export the list of related keywords
- go to the Tools section
- click on Keyword Clustering and Text Analytics
- create a project
- download the list of exported keywords and configure settings
- wait for the results
Here’s what you could see if you clustered keywords related to the “content marketing” query:
Now you have all your potential keywords grouped. This step lets you provide a more effective content structure (you can divide your posts into paragraphs based on the names of different clusters) and understand which keywords would fit the specific paragraphs perfectly.
(RELATED: The Future of Content Marketing and How to Adapt: Trends, Tactics, and Tools)
Step 5: Be Concise
According to Moz, the average length of a featured snippet is 45 words. A pretty compelling reason to answer the questions concisely.
Of course, long-form content is still king, and you shouldn’t shorten your subtopics to fit featured snippets. Here’s a great tip by Ann Smarty on how to deal with this issue:
“All you need to do is to adjust your blogging style just a bit:
- Ask the question in your article (that may be a subheading)
- Immediately follow the question with a one-paragraph answer
- Elaborate further in the article”
Such a simple tactic will help you increase your chances for capturing a featured snippet significantly.
To Wrap Up
Being featured in Google search results is an awesome opportunity to get greater organic search visibility and steal your competitors’ traffic. Optimizing for featured snippets isn’t rocket science, so get out there and use these actionable tips to reach the #0 position.