What are Google’s featured snippets?

- 30 April 2018 -

With the way technology is moving, getting to the number 1 spot on Google and other search engines doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll appear first. With Google’s featured snippets, there’s now position zero to fight for.

But what are Google’s featured snippets?

You’ve probably already been using snippets in your digital marketing when you’ve been inserting meta descriptions for your pages. A snippet is the little black text that sits under your title and URL on a search listing. This used to be capped at 165 characters, but now sits at around 270 thanks to Google’s recent expansion.

A featured snippet is a more recent development and it sits above even the number one search result listing. Position zero is the first thing a searcher will see. Google takes all the information on a webpage and builds the snippet around it, tailoring each snippet result to the specific query. Yep, Google is that clever.

woman using a smart phone to search for details about Google's featured snippet builder

A featured snippet displays the answer to a user’s question as well as letting them know what the page title is, which website it’s from, and provides a link to the full page. This link is great for improving your click-through rate. You’re showing potential customers how helpful and relevant you are to their interests.

Featured snippets don’t always have to be text either, often they come in lists or tables to give the user the information they want in a quick and easy to digest way.

How can you get a featured snippet?

There’s no exact science to securing a spot with Google’s featured snippet generator. You simply have to have the most relevant content for your user’s question. However, there are a few tricks you can use to give yourself an edge.

To be in with a shot of getting this coveted position zero, you should also rank on the first page of results, which means you can often get to appearances on the results page. You don’t have to be number one, but of course it doesn’t hurt. Being in the top 10 is good enough to earn you a featured snippet if you’ve got the most relevant content for the question being asked. However, Google does take snippets on occasion from sites not listed on page one if they’ve got the most relevant information for the search terms being used.

To get a snippet, you need to have the best answer to a search. That means you should get straight to the point, give people in a hurry the answer they need straightaway. Try to rank for questions that don’t have a simple factual answer, Google will pull that information from its Knowledge Graph. Think of things with “why” or “how” in them as they’re typically questions that need longer answers. Those are more likely to get you a featured snippet if you can give a useful response in 156 characters.

Keep it short and concise. Snippets are all about giving answers is easy chunks. Of course, you want long form content on your website, but break it down into small, snippet-able sentences. Answer related queries in your content to show Google you’re the expert.
women using a laptop to search for information about Google's featured snippet builder

How do featured snippets help with click through and customer engagement?

If your answer is good enough to become one of Google’s featured snippets it probably answers the users question straight away. Giving them information without getting them to click seems counter intuitive to the success of your website, right? Wrong.

By showing searchers you’ve got the answers they need, they’ll be much more likely to click through to your site to see what else you have to say. They’ll trust you more if they know you’ve got the answers they’re looking for.

Featured snippets are focused at the increasing number of searches made using voice technology and on mobile phones. When using a voice search or mobile, people are actively asking for information they want to know, and they want to know it fast. If you can get your answer into a featured snippet and position zero, you’ll get more of their attention. They’ll be much more likely to click through to your content.

To sum up

We hope that’s shed a little bit of light on Google’s featured snippet function. Getting to that coveted position zero isn’t easy, and you’ll have to keep amending content if you want to stay there, but the boost it brings to your traffic is definitely worth the additional effort.

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