How to optimize for Google featured snippets
Now that you know everything you need to know about featured snippets, let’s explore ways to optimize your content to be included in the featured snippets. Bear in mind that even Google says that it isn’t possible to affect or mark content to be a part of featured snippets. However, experienced webmasters believe that following good practices can increase the chances for content to become a part of a featured snippet.
Pages that rank high
This is a crucial information you need to know about featured snippets. Most results that get featured are already ranked pretty high in the search engine results. This means the starting point should be optimizing your web pages.
While the entire website and all of its pages need optimization and you need to go through all of the suggestions related to improving the ranking of a page, the particular page you are hoping to rank high is the one that deserves most attention. Go through all of the optimization elements. Make sure your content is accessible to the search engines. Also, explore the topic of SEO a little bit more. Try to discover other ways to optimize the page, other than on-site SEO. In particular, explore link building and how this could help you improve ranking.
Here’s a helpful guide regarding search engine optimization with practical suggestions on how to optimize your content immediately: Search Engine Optimization Fundamentals Course.
There are many factors that affect how Google ranks websites. The exact formula will never be known because it would lead to manipulations. However, it’s strongly believed that freshness has an impact on ranking pages. In particular, online marketers think that Google is more likely to rank new pages first. The reasoning behind this is the following. Content can become obsolete. New practices and new ways of doing things are constantly introduced in any industry you might be working in. And since Google wants the most relevant results to be displayed in the search engines, it’s only natural to expect it would count publishing date as a factor.
This could motivate you to start publishing regularly, analyzing even the topics you have already covered. It should also encourage you to occasionally update the old content. When updating content, you’ll change the publishing date to a newer date which will appear more recent. The next step is reviewing the content. Sometimes, when the content is evergreen, you don’t need to make many changes. When you notice parts of the content that are obsolete, not current, or even wrong, adjust the content before republishing.
Finally, re-upload the images. When uploaded, the images contain the date, and if they appear in the new article, this might negatively affect the freshness of your content. Since images are often part of featured snippets, you need them to appear fresh as much as the rest of the content.
A great way to increase the chances of getting your content in the featured snippets is finding perfect questions to answer. Although there is so much content online, and even though it might seem that you don’t really need to answer any questions, that you don’t have new questions, a significant number of searches conducted on Google every day are completely new.
As for the old ones, ones that supposedly have been answered, you need to have in mind that we’ve already mentioned that summaries shown in the featured snippets change. They aren’t set in stone, and you can get results there even if there already is content that answers a certain query. Here are a couple of strategies:
- Detect questions that can be answered in a better, more useful way
- Pay attention to the questions shown in the box below the featured snippet. This section is called “People also ask”.
- Scroll down to the end of the search engine result page to discover related searches
- Play around with Google and test paraphrasing the questions to discover any questions with no featured snippet yet
- Determine the keywords or keyword phrases for which you already rank high, because these have the highest chance of being included in the featured snippets.
Think about your answers
Now that you have questions, it’s time to answer those questions. Now it’s time to focus on the actual content that gets featured. You need to think about the answers. Try to formulate an answer that you can actually envisage as a featured snippet. Here are a couple of aspects to think about:
Most of us have already seen a fair share of Google’s featured snippets. What we can immediately conclude, just from the look of it, is that Google prefers concise answers. Most of these answers are one-paragraph long. Obviously, your blog post shouldn’t be one-paragraph long, but you need a paragraph that summarizes the answer and provides essential information for the online users. This particular segment is what Google can take as a featured snippet content.
- Articles with multiple answers
One article can answer multiple related questions. And different parts of the article can be included in the featured snippet to answer just the question they refer to. Some webmasters believe that this approach shows good results. Since lengthy content is generally a preferred practice in online marketing, it only makes sense that Google will favor the articles that cover multiple questions within the same group or category.
- Organization is a key aspect
Think carefully about organizing an answer. Google prefers practical solutions and quick answers. Sometimes showing the answer as a list is a better way to go than writing a paragraph. This way the answer is more concise, more practical and it looks easier to follow. So think about organizing your answer using lists, steps, or bullets.
Change your mindset when writing
If you’ve never done this whole featured snippets thing, and you have never really thought about it, you need first to change the mindset. When you start writing a blog post, you should do your usual process, which probably includes brainstorming, list of keywords to use, topic ideas, etc. Then you need to add this whole featured snippet concept into the process. Think about a question you want to answer. Although you will be dealing with the broad idea within the article, think about how to practically answer the question in one short paragraph. If you plan on covering multiple questions, then repeat the process for each question.