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Stand Out From The Crowd With Google’s Featured Snippets

by | Nov 17, 2016 | Actionable SEO Tips, On-Page SEO Tips

stand-out-from-the-crowdsRecently, I travelled to Seattle to attend MozCon 2016. MozCon is the biggest SEO conference of the year where industry leaders speak on current and future trends in SEO and content marketing providing lots of actionable tips and tricks to gain more traffic to your website, and more importantly, increase conversions.

Undoubtedly, the biggest takeaway from MozCon this year is the increase in opportunities arising around Google’s Featured Snippets. I spoke about what featured snippets are earlier this year. To recap, featured snippets display answers to question-based queries in the search results page. You don’t need to be ranked number one for the search query, to rank in the featured snippet box. Here’s an example for the search term “how to invest in gold” on Google.co.uk.

google-featured-snippet-example

Today, I’m going to show you how to find some opportunities to rank in what has become known as position zero, the most valuable position on the search engine results page. But first, let’s look at how these snippets have grown in 2016, and the format which snippets are most likely to appear in.

In January, featured snippets appeared in 9% of search results. The most latest data, from July, show that snippets are now visible in 15% of all search results. This number is expected to rise even further in the coming months.

the-growth-of-featured-snippets

Featured snippets appear in three formats.

  • Paragraph
  • List
  • Table

The most popular format is a paragraph. At the start of the year, 4 out of every 5 snippets appeared in this form. Now, it’s 3 out of every 5. The number of lists & tables appearing has more than doubled since January. Google clearly wants to show more lists and tables where the format of your content determines the format of the featured snippet. This gives us a huge opportunity to steal poor snippets.

the-different-types-of-snippets

How to Find Featured Snippet Opportunities

Google search console is a great free tool to use find opportunities to rank in featured snippets.

Go to Search Analytics under Search Traffic in Google search console.

search-analytics-in-search-consoleUnder queries click on No filter and Filter queries.

filter-your-queries-in-search-console

We know that the majority of featured snippets appear for a “how to…” or a “what is…” type question. So, let’s filter for queries containing “how to”. Also, turn on impressions and position, as well as clicks.

filter-by-clicks-impressions-and-position

Look out for queries with a high number of impressions.

Once you find one, open up the query to see if there’s a featured snippet for that query, and to figure out if your content is in the right format to be considered for this query. Here’s an example of a featured snippet in list format:

google-featured-snippets-list-example

If you have content ranking in the top 5 for a search query that throws out a list format featured snippet, you should consider converting your content into a list format to increase your chances of featuring in the snippet. It won’t work all the time, but the benefit of grabbing that snippet is worth the time it takes to find opportunities and convert your copy to maximize your chances.

What Effect Do Featured Snippets Have on Click Through Rate?

Ranking in position zero has a huge effect on click through rates. About a month ago the following search query began ranking in a Featured Snippet. There’s was a 70% increase in clicks compared to the previous period. How awesome is that?

click-through-rate-analysis

Here’s the same query compared to a similar query, both ranked number 5 for the past 30 days, but the second one has also ranked in the featured snippet box. The number of times it has appeared in search results is similar (impressions) but the click through rate on the featured snippet is 2.5 times greater. Not only does it have a positive effect on click-through rate, on-page conversion rates also spike after a visitor arrives via a featured snippet.

Using search console to help find featured snippet opportunities is great, and costs you nothing. However, if you’re serious about finding opportunities and tracking your featured snippets you should consider a Moz Pro account. Moz is an SEO software company that provides some great tools for internet marketers. There’s a new SERP features section under campaigns to find and track featured snippets for given keywords. It’s very user friendly and a great tool to have in your toolbox.

moz-pro-dashboard

Google search is becoming very convoluted. Organic results are competing with a higher number of SERP features for the searcher’s click than ever before. It’s also becoming difficult to distinguish between paid advertisements and organic results meaning the great content you’ve worked so hard on creating and optimizing is now appearing near the bottom of the page, even if it is ranking in first place.

The bottom line is that Google’s Featured Snippets allow you to stand out from the crowd and gain the searchers attention. Featured snippets are a huge opportunity right now, one that you should be taking full advantage of.

Thanks for reading,

Colm O Sullivan Sig

Colm O’Sullivan
SEO Specialist
cosullivan@readyfireaim.eu

P.S. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss anything in this article, or if you’d like to chat about how AIM can help grow your business. We provide a range of services including website reviews, SEO site audits, and digital marketing strategy creation and implementation.

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