If you’ve searched for anything on Google since 2014, you’ll have seen the featured snippet. It’s that quick answer that appears above the first organic result.
Sponsored posts for that topic appear about the quick answer box. But if there are no ads, the featured snippet is literally the first thing that a user sees.
They’re pretty handy for users. But they’re a double-edged sword for marketers.
On one hand, they might provide enough information that the user never needs to visit your site.
On the other hand, the snippet gives a new opportunity to boost visibility and rank for particular queries.
Chances are, most of the sites that provide a snippet already rank for that particular query.
So make sure that you work on your own rankings for your content. The higher you rank, the better chance you have of providing the quick answer.
Read on to find out other ways to land that featured snippet spot.
Never underestimate the power of questions when creating content
More people are using voice search on their devices, whether that’s through Alexa, Siri, Google or Cortana. Almost 1 in 5 adults have used voice search on a daily basis.
So users are less likely to search for short keywords or phrases. They’re far more likely to search using a question they’d say aloud.
Think about how you can come up with questions that you can answer. Then create content that provides those answers.
It’s a simple way to reach potential customers even without the featured snippet. You’re just giving them what they’re looking for.
And never underestimate the power of social media. Users are asking other people for information. So they automatically use questions.
Hop on to Twitter or Facebook to see what questions users are asking around your topic.
If they’re asking those questions on social media, chances are they’ll use the same questions on search engines.
You can also read our guide on optimizing your site for voice search.
Think of the knowledge bases that some companies host on their websites
Users ask questions to find answers. It’s built into the structure of those sites.
Consider adding a similar resource to your own site. Having the questions and answers in the same place makes its easier to locate information – both for your users, and the search engines.
Still not convinced? Search for ‘how to edit a PDF’.
After the ads, the featured snippet is a tutorial from Adobe Acrobat’s knowledge base on editing a PDF. The title of the snippet is identical to the search term.
And that’s also what you’d type in if you wanted to edit a PDF.
The snippet includes basic steps, or you can click through to the site if what you need isn’t in the snippet.
So make sure you include the question and a short answer on your page if you choose this route. Then expand the answer below as a full post.
In-depth, useful content alongside a concise summary is your end goal here.
Try to include part of the question in the URL if you can. And use it in the title of your page to make it totally clear what the page is about.
Identify those pages most likely to be used for a featured snippet
Log in to your Google Webmaster tools. Choose the Search Traffic option, then Queries.
You can filter those queries by whichever question words you want to use. So that’s words like ‘how’ or ‘why’.
‘How’ is probably a better option because it implies a user wants to know how to do something. That means they’re ready to buy or hire in order to get that something done.
Check the ‘Position’ box so you can see what organic ranking you already have. Work on those posts that are already ranking highly to optimize your chance of landing a featured snippet.
You can always work on ranking more pages for more questions later. But for now, work on the pages that are already doing well.
You might as well go for the low-hanging fruit while you’re perfecting the process.
Did you know you can also use the Google Webmaster tools when you’re working on your SEO? Check out why the Webmaster Tools are so important here.
Repurpose your content for other platforms
Contrary to what you might have heard, you can use content more than once. Almost 60% of marketers reuse their content.
That’s not to say you repost the same post every couple of weeks on your blog. It means reusing the content in a different format, usually for a different platform.
That means you can turn a blog post into an infographic for Pinterest or LinkedIn. Or convert a written tutorial post into a video walk-through for YouTube or Vimeo.
Don’t worry that people will get tired of seeing the same content in different formats. People like content to be delivered in a way that suits them.
It’s unlikely that someone reading your blog is also watching your YouTube videos.
But bear in mind that how-to videos on Youtube do appear in the featured snippet area.
So use the question you want to target as the name of your video. Provide a voice transcript for your video so Google has some text to put in the featured snippet box.
Work on ranking your video and you should soon see results.
So to recap!
Follow these 4 steps, and repeat as often as necessary.
- Find common questions in your niche – the more simple the question, the better
- Provide a clear, short answer
- Expand on that answer with more information if users need it
- Optimize your page to make it easy for Google to find it
The beauty of this approach is you’re automatically creating useful content. Putting the user front and center is the best way to build relationships with potential customers.
And those relationships are what will make those customers come back again and again.
Still got questions about that featured snippet box? Get in touch and we’ll try to help!