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Featured Snippets: Google Gold in Position 0

5 Tips for Getting More Traffic From Featured Snippets

If you are optimizing your site and your content to reach the right audience on search engines, the result can be a steady flow of engaged readers and qualified leads at minimal cost. But, keeping your content and business visible on Google isn’t easy. Google continues to evolve the way it displays its results to searchers — your potential readers and customers! One of these changes is the featured snippet. Google created the featured snippet a few years ago. SEOs sometimes refer to it as position 0 because it appears above position 1 in organic search.

What is a featured snippet? A featured snippet is an expanded answer to a searcher’s query that is scraped from a search engine results page (SERPs). Let’s explore how a featured snippet can drive qualified traffic to your website.

Featured snippet example:

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“One of the first conclusions that a lot of people involved with SEO jumped to was that featured snippets would have a hugely negative impact on the amount of people that actually click through to the pages within the results. This actually hasn't been the case.” – HubSpot.com

Facts About Featured Snippets:

  1. You have to be on page 1 of Google to earn the featured snippet.
  2. If you are in the featured snippet, you also keep your page 1 result — it’s a two-for-one deal. (Thank you, Google.)
  3. Featured snippets have grown by 600-700% in the past two years – Pete Meyers (Moz)
  4. Voice search pulls answers from the featured snippets; Google is a major player in the voice game, thus the proliferation of featured snippets.
  5. Paragraph form is the dominant format in featured snippets, although there are also lists, tables and a small percentage of videos.
  6. The featured snippet and the featured image in the snippet can be populated by different results. That is, your answer may be married with an image that didn’t come from your site and vice versa. See above in the “Growing Lettuce in Containers” story.

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5 Ways to Earn More Featured Snippets

1) Recognize when a snippet is not winnable or valuable. First things first, if the site appearing in the featured snippet generally dominates search results (let’s say Wikipedia), and is answering the featured snippet in a very user-friendly way, chances are you won’t be able to win that featured snippet. Don’t fret; there are other featured snippets out there. Look for featured snippets where the answer doesn’t scrape well from the site or the site isn’t as dominate in your vertical. Perhaps it’s a poorly answered snippet. Also, avoid trying to win extremely easy answers that will not inspire a searcher to click i.e. “when is national hug day?”

2) Copy the format of the current featured snippet. For the featured snippet you are trying to earn, copy the format of the search result that is winning the space. Did they write their answer in a sentence? Try your answer in a sentence. Is it a list? Use a list. How about a table? You got it, use a table. Here’s a great table generator tool if you don’t know HTML.

3) Don’t give away the entire answer. Playing in the featured snippet space can be tricky. On one hand, you want to give the searcher the majority of the answer so they feel confident you are knowledgeable enough to answer their query. But, on the other hand, you want them to learn more about the topic by visiting your site. Use language that entices them to click to your site. Let them know there’s more to the story than the simple answer.

Here’s an example where the author ends the snippet with: “Yes, but I do have a few cautions if you are considering a mixed flock.” Wouldn’t you want to know what those cautions are? So will the searcher!

featured-snippets-google3.jpg

Now, go back to the top of this blog and visit where I told you what a featured snippet was. (It’s paragraph 2.) I was answering the question (what is a featured snippet?) as if I was hoping Google would choose my answer for the featured snippet box. See how I ended with: “Let’s explore how a featured snippet can drive qualified traffic to your website.” That might have gotten you to click through if you’d seen that answer in an actual featured snippet.

4) Questions are a great starting point. Questions are great place to start your featured snippet strategy. At CountrysideNetwork.com, our best practice is to repeat the question in our story and then give an answer. Not sure what questions you should be answering? Well, you can always do good old-fashioned keyword research in Google's Adwords keyword tool. Here’s another idea. Ask your readers. Backyard Poultry magazine recently started doing this on Facebook and turning reader responses into search-optimized stories on their site.

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5) Don’t lose your featured snippets. Google wants to have the best answer on top. That’s a fact. Keep an eye on your top spots and track your rankings to make sure Google doesn’t give you the boot. If something falls out of the featured snippet, evaluate what took its place and take action to win your spot back. What is that search result doing better than you? One way to keep your content relevant on Google is to make sure it continues to receive traffic. Continue to promote your ranking stories in email newsletters and on your social media channels.

Have fun earning those featured snippets …. Google gold, I like to say!


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Steph Merkle

Written by Steph Merkle

Steph Merkle is the Content Director for Countryside Publications, a multichannel community for modern homesteaders. She lives along the foothills of northern Colorado with her husband, two young kiddos and a feathered flock of chickens.

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