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Featured Snippet Optimization: Complete Guide In 2022

You’ve probably seen the boxes that pop up at the top of the SERP featuring a summary of an answer to a searcher’s question. 

These are featured snippets, and they usually contain a direct answer to the queried search phrase. 

Featured Snippet Optimization: Complete Guide [2022]

Featured snippets are an increasingly important ranking factor, especially for voice search. 

In this article, we will show you how to optimize your content to earn a featured snippet for your target keywords. 


What is a Featured Snippet?

In simple terms, featured snippets are selected results that appear at the top of the SERP, above the organic listings. 

They are designed to give users a “quick answer” to their query, and they usually take the form of a list, table, or paragraph.

Featured snippets can be triggered by regular search queries and questions asked via voice search. 

How do featured snippets work? 

When a user types in a query, Google’s algorithms scan the pages of the web to find the best answer to that query. 

The results are then ranked according to several factors, including relevancy and quality. 

If a featured snippet is available for the query, Google will display it at the top of the SERP.

Examples of Featured Snippets 

In this example, we’ve searched for the query “how to make a website.”

The featured snippet contains step-by-step instructions on “how to create a website.”

Featured Snippet Optimization: Complete Guide In 2022 1

That’s an example of a list featured snippet.

Here’s another example, this time for the query “foursquare statistics.”

Featured Snippet Optimization: Complete Guide [2022]

Since the keyword contains the word statistics, we can assume that the user is looking for statistical data. 

Sure enough, the featured snippet contains statistics about foursquare.

As you can see from the two examples, featured snippets can take different forms. 

They can be paragraphs, lists, or even tables.

The snippets occur at the top of the SERP, above all the organic results ( but below paid ads). 

That explains why SEO specialists refer to it as position zero.

They’re easy to spot and clickable. 

And since they usually contain direct answers to queries, users find them handy.

Why are Featured Snippets Important? 

SEOs love featured snippets because they’re an easy way to earn a top spot on the SERP. 

All you need to do is optimize your content to match the featured snippet format, and you’re good to go. 

Of course, it’s not quite that simple. 

You still need to create high-quality content and promote it effectively.

They also provide brands with additional exposure and can help you build trust and authority. 

People are likelier to click on a result with a featured snippet because it looks more trustworthy. 

It’s also worth noting that featured snippets are becoming increasingly crucial for voice search. 

Since the rise of digital assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, people have become used to asking questions and getting answers in real-time.

Here’s a list summarizing the benefits of featured snippets: 

  • They’re highly visible and clickable
  • They usually contain direct answers to queries
  • They’re a great way to earn a top spot on the SERP
  • They can help you build trust and authority
  • Attract customers
  • Drive more traffic
  • Increase brand exposure and recognition
  • Improve click-through-rate

Note that 99% of the results that appear on featured snippets are from pages that already rank on the first page of Google. 

That means that if you want to earn a featured snippet, you need to focus on optimizing your content for the first page of the SERP.


Types of Featured Snippets 

There are six types of featured snippets: 

  1. Paragraphs
  2. Numbered Lists
  3. Tables 
  4. Questions
  5. Videos
  6. Bullet Lists

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Paragraphs 

Also referred to as definition boxes, these are the most common type of featured snippets. 

They’re served in direct response to a query looking for a specific definition or piece of information. 

Here’s an example: 

Featured Snippet Optimization: Complete Guide [2022]

In this case, the featured snippet contains the definition of the word “meme.” 

As you can see, it’s taken directly from the Google Search Help page.

That’s a clear example of a featured snippet meant to provide a direct answer to a query. Optimizing your content for a numbered/bullet list or table wouldn’t make much sense if you’re looking to rank for the keyword “meme.”

Numbered Lists 

These are featured snippets that appear in the form of a numbered list. 

They usually contain a series of steps, tips, or instructions.

Numbered Lists 

These are featured snippets that appear in the form of a numbered list. 

They usually contain a series of steps, tips, or instructions. 

Here’s an example: 

Featured Snippet Optimization: Complete Guide In 2022 2

This featured snippet is from a post on theblogstarter.com about how to start a blog.

As you can see, it contains a numbered list of steps necessary to start a blog. 

If you’re looking to rank for a keyword like “how to start a blog,” then optimizing your content for a numbered list is a good idea.

Tables 

Tables are featured snippets that appear in the form of a table. 

They usually contain data or statistics. 

Here’s an example: 

 

This featured snippet is from the website semrush.com. 

As you can see, it contains data about the most popular websites in [May] 2022. 

If you’re looking to rank for a keyword like “most popular websites,” then optimizing your content for a table is a good idea. 

Bullet List 

Bullet lists are featured snippets that appear as bullet lists. 

They usually contain a series of points or ideas. 

Here’s an example:

Featured Snippet Optimization: Complete Guide In 2022 3

This featured snippet is from the blog Copyblogger.com. 

As you can see, it contains a bullet list of top tips for interviews. 

If you’re looking to rank for a keyword like “top tips for interviews,” then optimizing your content for a bullet list is a good idea.

Videos 

The demand for videos is growing at an incredible rate. In fact, according to Laivideo, 80% of all internet traffic is video traffic.

It’s no surprise, then, that Google is increasingly serving up featured snippets in the form of videos. 

Here’s an example: 

Featured Snippet Optimization: Complete Guide In 2022 4

This featured snippet is from the YouTube channel drive.com.au. 

As you can see, it contains a video about how to make a paper airplane. 

If you’re looking to rank for a keyword like “how to make a paper airplane,” then optimizing your content for a video is a good idea.

People Also Ask  

The People Also Ask (PAA) section is a featured snippet that appears at the top of the SERP. 

It contains a list of questions related to the query. 

Here’s an example:

Featured Snippet Optimization: Complete Guide In 2022 5

In this case, the query is “What is a meme?” 

As you can see, the PAA section contains a list of questions related to the query. 

If you’re looking to rank for a keyword like “What is a meme?” then optimizing your content for the PAA section is a good idea.


How to Optimize Your Content for Featured Snippets 

Now that we’ve covered the different types of featured snippets, let’s look at how to optimize your content for them.

Naturally, the best way to optimize your content for featured snippets is to write unique, high-quality content targeted at specific keywords.

However, you can do a few other things to increase your chances of ranking in the featured snippet position. 

Here are some tips:  

Best Practices for Featured Snippets 

The first step is checking the keyword to see if it already has a featured snippet. 

If it does, you need to determine the type of featured snippet currently ranking.

Once you know the type of featured snippet, you can start optimizing your content for that particular type — bullet list, numbered list, paragraph, etc. 

Studies show you have a better chance of ranking in the featured snippet position by targeting long-tail keywords.

It’s logical when you think about it. 

If you’re targeting a more specific keyword, then there’s a good chance that your content will be more relevant to the searcher’s query. 

And if your content is more relevant, it’s more likely to be featured in the snippet position.

For example, let’s say you’re targeting the keyword “SEO tips for beginners.” 

The competition for this keyword is going to be incredibly tough. 

Let’s say you’re targeting the long-tail keyword “Local SEO tips for beginners in 2022.” 

The competition will be much less, and your chances of ranking in the featured snippet position will be much higher.

The idea is to think about the words your target audience will likely use when searching for your content. 

Next, you want to give the best answer to the searcher’s question. 

That might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t get it right. 

Your goal is to write the best possible answer to the searcher’s question.

In other words, your answer should be: 

  • Relevant 
  • Accurate 
  • Well-researched 
  • Thorough 
  • Up-to-date 
  • Easy to understand 

If you can do all these things, you’re well on ranking in the featured snippet position.

Remember, Google’s goal is to provide the best possible answer to the searcher’s question.  

Google also prefers longer content (2000 words plus). So, try to be as descriptive as possible by covering your topic in depth. Leave no stone unturned. 

Another thing to remember is that your content should be formatted in a way that makes it easy for Google to understand.

You also want to use rich media (images, infographics, videos, etc.). That will help your content stand out. 

Featured Snippets Word Count Stats

Featured Snippet Optimization: Complete Guide In 2022 6

Featured Snippet Word Count Stats

  • 55% of the search queries that display a featured snippet contain ten words
  • 30% of the search queries that display a featured snippet have 11-20 words, compared to queries with six words or fewer (23% to 4%)
  • 29% of search queries that display a featured snippet come in the form of a question. 

Most of the search queries start with why (77.63%)

  • 72.40% start with “can.”
  • 67.54% start with “do.”
  • 67.51 start with “are.”
  • 65.27% start with “how.”

It’s not just about the word count, though. 

Your content also needs to be well-structured and easy to read. 

Use short paragraphs, headlines, and bullet points. 

Make sure your content is scannable using subheadings, bolded text, and images.

Also, be sure to update your content regularly. And don’t hide the date. 

Users want to see that your content is fresh and relevant.

Formatting Tips for Featured Snippets 

Here are some formatting tips to help you get your content featured in the snippet position:

  • Give brief, straight-to-the-point answers to questions. Limit the answers to 40-50 words (200 to 300 characters). 
  • Update your content from time to time to keep it fresh. Google loves fresh and relevant content. 
  • Use proper grammar and spelling. Google will not feature your content if it contains typos and grammatical errors. 
  • Organize your content using headings and subheadings. That will make it easier for Google to understand your content and find the answer to the searcher’s question. 
  • Date-marked content forms the bulk of featured snippets (44% of paragraphs, 19% of tables, 47% of lists, and 20% of video snippets include a date).

Use proper HTML tags (H1, H2, etc.) to structure your content. 

Remember that Google bots automatically crawl pages. It’s your responsibility to make it easier for them to read and understand your script.

For example, if you’re structuring a header followed by an ordered list, your list should look something like this:

<h2>Header Text</h2>

<ol>

<li>Item 1</li>

<li>Item 2</li>

<li>Item 3</li>

</ol> 

If you want to get technical, you can use the Schema.org markup to help Google understand your content better. 

But that’s a topic for another day.

Use images to support your answer. Images can help make your answer more visually appealing and easier to understand. 

Include a video if possible. Videos are handy for complex topics. 

Add external links to high-quality websites. That will show Google that you’re an authoritative source of information. 

Use simple, easy-to-understand language. Don’t use jargon or technical terms that the average person wouldn’t understand.


Why Should You Optimize for Featured Snippets?

After reading all this, you must be wondering why you should even bother with featured snippets. 

After all, isn’t the number one spot on Google’s SERP the only spot that matters?

The answer is no. 

Here’s why: 

Imagine publishing well-optimized, valuable, and unique content. 

Your goal is to rank number one for a particular keyword. 

You spend months (or even years) optimizing your website and finally achieve your goal. 

You’re happy. 

But after seeing SERP results, you notice that your number #1 article isn’t actually at the top of the search results.

It’s below the page, below three paid ads, a featured snippet, a PAA box, and a Knowledge Graph. 

All your efforts appear to have been thrown out the window. 

So, what’s the solution? 

You need to optimize your content for featured snippets. 

When you do that, you increase your chances of appearing in not one but two places on the first page of Google search results — the number one spot on the SERP and the featured snippet position. 

What’s more? You can use this strategy to outrank your competitors ranking higher than you in the organic search results. 

That’s the power of featured snippets.


6 Benefits of Appearing on Featured Snippets 

Here are some of the benefits you’ll enjoy by appearing on the featured snippet:

#1. More Traffic 

Ahrefs conducted a study and found that the average CTR for featured snippets is 8.6%. 

The first position on SERP (excluding featured snippets) has a CTR of 19.6%.

As you can see, a page ranking only on position #1 will garner 19.6% of the clicks, while a page ranking for both featured snippet and position #1 will get 28.2% of the clicks. 

That’s a huge difference and shows how much traffic you can generate by appearing in the featured snippet position.

#2. Aesthetic Appeal 

Let’s face it. 

A featured snippet looks much better than a plain old organic listing. 

It also takes the highly sought-after real estate at the top of the SERP.

When a searcher sees your brand in the featured snippet position, it will increase your brand’s trustworthiness and credibility in their eyes. 

#3. Target Users at the top of the Keyword Funnel 

When users search for something on Google, mostly they’ll be looking to find answers, learn something new, or be entertained. 

These users are at the top of the keyword funnel. 

They’re generally gathering information and have no intention of buying anything. 

But if you can answer their questions with your featured snippet, you may be able to funnel them further down the sales funnel and convert them into customers.

#4. Target Six Different Featured Snippets 

You can target six types of featured snippets (as mentioned above: listicle, How-to, definition, table, paragraph, and video). 

Each type of featured snippet has its own unique benefits. 

For example, the How-to featured snippet is an excellent choice for driving traffic to your website. 

On the other hand, the video featured snippet can help you increase brand awareness and reach a wider audience.

#5. Easy to Target People Also Ask (PAA) SERP Features 

When you target featured snippets, you also have a good chance of appearing in the PAA section. 

PAA is a box on the SERP containing a list of related questions people ask about the main query.

The great thing about this is that it allows you to answer more questions and drive more traffic to your website. 

#6. Boost Rankings in Organic Search Results 

If you can rank for a featured snippet, there’s a good chance you can also rank higher in the organic search results. 

In fact, according to Ahrefs, pages that rank in position 0 (featured snippets) are more likely to also rank in the top 10 of organic results. 

So, if you’re not ranking in the top 10 right now, optimize your content for featured snippets, and you have a good chance to also rank for organic rankings.


Step-by-step Guide to Optimize Your Content for Featured Snippets 

Now that you know the benefits of appearing in featured snippets, let’s look at how you can optimize your content for them. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Start with On-page SEO 

The first step is ensuring your on-page SEO is up to par

There’s no magic formula or button you can push to get your content to rank in featured snippets.

It all starts with optimizing your content for the search engines. 

Make sure you’re doing the following: 

  • Use keyword-rich title tags 
  • Use keyword-rich meta descriptions 
  • Use keyword-rich headings (H1, H2, H3) 
  • Optimize your images with keywords 
  • Use keyword-rich alt text 
  • Optimize your website for mobile 
  • Improve your website’s speed

Review your SEO practices and optimize your content accordingly. 

Step 2: Find Featured Snippet Opportunities 

The next step is to find featured snippet opportunities for your business. 

Start by searching for your target keywords in Google. 

Scroll down to the bottom of the SERP and take a look at the “Searches related to” section. 

These are related keywords you can target. 

You can also use tools like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer to find related keywords. 

Enter a seed keyword and click on the “Questions” tab. 

That will give you a list of questions people are asking about that topic. 

These are potential featured snippet opportunities you can target.

Step 3: Analyse the Current Featured Snippets 

Once you’ve found some featured snippet opportunities, it’s time to analyse the current featured snippets. 

Start by looking at the type of featured snippet currently ranking. 

Is it a list? A how-to? A table? etc.  

Next, take a look at the format of the featured snippet. 

Is it a video? A paragraph? A list? etc. 

Finally, analyse the content itself. 

What information is included in the featured snippet? 

How can you improve upon it?

Step 4: Optimize Your Content for Featured Snippets 

Now it’s time to optimize your content for featured snippets. 

That involves creating content that is both informative and well-formatted. 

Here are some tips: 

  • Use keyword-rich titles and headings 
  • Use short, concise sentences 
  • Use bullet points and lists 
  • Use images and videos 
  • Answer common questions people have about your topic 
  • Format your content accordingly (paragraphs, lists, etc.)

Step 5: Answer Each Question Concisely 

While you want your content to be well-formatted, you also want to answer each question concisely. 

Keep your answers short and straight to the point. 

get google ranking ad

Featured snippets have a word limit of 40 to 50 words. So, you want to cut on fluff and get straight to the point. 

You should also note that Google automatically pulls the answers from your content. 

That means you don’t have to do anything apart from writing great content and leaving the rest to Google.

The idea is to answer specific questions immediately and elaborate further with additional information.  

That’s how you can optimize your content for featured snippets and organic rankings.

Step 6: Look at How You Structure Your Content

Google loves structured content.

Their bots are designed to crawl and understand your content better when it’s properly structured. 

That means using the right headings (H1, H2, H3), using lists, and using images and videos where relevant. 

You also want to use headers and subheaders to break up your content and make it easier to read. 

Here’s an example of how you can structure your content: 

  • Title 
  • Introduction 
    • H2 header: Question 1 
  • -Answer 1 
  • Elaborate on answer 1 
    • H2 header: Question 2  
  • -Answer 2 
  • Elaborate on answer 2 
    • H2 header: Question 3 
  • -Answer 3 
  • Elaborate on answer 3 
  • Conclusion 

That’s just one example of how you can structure your content. There are many other ways you can do it. Just make sure it’s easy to read and understand.

Step 7: Focus on Related Questions 

Another way to optimize your content for featured snippets is to focus on related questions. 

Google loves it when you answer all questions users have on a particular topic. 

That’s why you want to make sure you’re not just focusing on the main question but also on related questions.

Step 8: Track, Track, and Track 

The only way to know if your efforts are paying off is to track your progress. 

Make sure you track your featured snippet rankings using a tool like Google Search Console or Ahrefs.

Run a competitive analysis to see if you’re gaining or losing ground. 

And finally, keep an eye on your organic traffic to see if it’s increasing or decreasing. These are just some of the things you should be tracking. The bottom line is that you want to make sure you’re constantly monitoring your progress to adjust your strategy accordingly.


How to Track and Optimize Your Featured Snippet

Now that we’ve highlighted some of the things you can do to optimize your content for featured snippets, we want to give you a few tips on how you can track your progress and optimize your content for featured snippets.

Here are a few things you can do: 

#1. SERP Features Update

Publish-and-pray is not the way to go. You want to be more strategic and data-driven with your approach if at all you’re to stand a chance against your competitors. 

That means tracking your SERP features regularly and updating your strategy accordingly. 

You want to track things like: 

  • The number of featured snippets you rank for 
  • The CTR of your featured snippet 
  • The organic traffic you get from your featured snippet 

These things will give you an idea of how well you’re doing and what you need to do to improve your results. 

Analyse different SERP features and keywords to understand which of them are giving you the best results. 

#2. Competitive SEO and SERP Analysis

You also want to do a competitive SEO and SERP analysis by geography to understand how you stack up against your competitors. 

Analyse your website for branded and unbranded keywords and compare your results with your competitors’. 

You also want to analyse it for search type, competitiveness, and SERP features. That should give you some idea of the areas to focus on and improve.

#3. More Keyword Data

Last but not least, you want to make sure you’re tracking as many keywords as possible. 

The more keyword data you have, the better your chances of finding the right keywords to target. 

You want to track branded and unbranded and long-tail and short-tail keywords. 

The bottom line is that you want to ensure you’re tracking as many keywords as possible to understand what’s working and what’s not.


How to Identify Opportunities for Featured Snippets

Let me introduce you to a few ways you can identify opportunities for featured snippets: 

Approach #1: Go for Low-hanging Fruits

Use any order tracking tool to do this, but I recommend SEMrush. 

Open SEMrush and turn on Organic Search Tool inside the SEO toolkit.

Enter your domain name to view an overview of your traffic, keywords, competitors, and positions. 

Next, go to the Placement tab, and play around with the following filters:

Include ratings ranging from 1 to 5

Exclude SERPs as they’re already featured in featured snippets

You’ll get a list of the keywords that rank well but do not appear in featured snippets.  

These are the low-hanging fruits you should be targeting. 

If a competitor has snagged a featured snippet for a keyword you’re targeting, all you want to do is emulate what they’re doing and do it even better. Borrow some of their strategies and improve them to outrank them.

For faster results, you can focus on keywords that contain question words like “how,” “what,” “why,” “when,” etc. 

These are the types of keywords that are most likely to be featured in featured snippets.

 Approach #2: Spy on Your Competitors’ Featured Snippets

Still using SEMrush, feed the competitor’s domain name (instead of yours) into the organic search tool. 

This time, filter the SERP features to only include a SERP feature called “featured snippets.” 

You’ll get a list of the featured snippets your competitor’s website ranks for. 

You want to analyse these featured snippets and determine what they’re doing right. 

Then, you want to emulate their strategies and do it even better to outrank them.

Approach #3: Start with an Original Keyword Research

Don’t overthink it. If you have no idea where to start, just go back to the basics and do regular keyword research. 

You want to use any of these keyword research tools: 

  • Google Keyword Planner
  • SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool
  • Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  • KWFinder
  • Moz Keyword Explorer
  • Answer the Public

Next, go SEMrush and turn on the organic search tool. 

Filter the SERP features to only include a SERP feature called “featured snippets.” 

You’ll get a list of all the featured snippets your competitors’ websites rank for. 

You want to analyse these featured snippets and determine what they’re doing right.

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