Google Featured Snippets have been around for several years, yet they are still not entirely understood.
There has been some debate over the last two years about the value of getting a Featured Snippet for your page. Some people have argued that by Google providing the entire answer in the snippet, people won’t bother clicking through to your site.
But the general opinion seems to be that snippets are, in fact, good for organic traffic because they present your page as the best answer to their query.
Should you use Featured Snippets on your own site? Here are seven key things you should know before deciding:
1. Featured snippets are what Google has decided is the “best” answer
No, don’t just add “Best” to every one of your blog titles. According to Google, the “best” answer addresses the question directly without the reader needing to click through to the page. So when you put a query into search, the snippet will be a section of text that gives you the most straightforward answer.
For example, the snippet that Google gave me when I searched “how to tie shoelaces”:
The featured snippet tells the reader directly how to tie shoelaces, without them needing to even click through to the article (unless they want to learn the other two ways to tie shoelaces).
2. Google likes content that’s organized into lists
You’ve probably noticed that featured snippets are often step by step answers to a question. Google seems to scan articles for list answers when pulling their snippets. What’s more, the list doesn’t have to come from the top of the article. Google seems to pull snippets from anywhere in the article, as long as the section is formatted as a list.
Take this result for the question “how do you make an infographic”:
The title of the page is “Create Infographics in 3 Easy Steps”– a descriptive title that directly answers the query. But you can see from this result that even though the featured snippet answers the query, readers will have to click through to the page to get a more in-depth answer. So featured snippets often won’t always direct traffic to your page.
3. Featured snippets drive organic traffic to your site
This makes sense when you think about it. For instance, when you search something on Google Voice Command, the answer that it reads to you comes from the featured snippet.
A case study published in Search Engine Land reported that the CTR on a page increased from 2 percent to 8 percent when a Featured Snippet was earned, with revenue from organic traffic increasing by 677 percent.
After all, featured snippets position the page as the authoritative answer to the query. They tell people that your site has the experts on the topic. This is great for building your brand awareness.
4. Your content doesn’t have to be the number one result
This point might seem counterintuitive, but it’s true! Google usually pulls its Featured Snippets from any of the top five or so results on the page. That means that even if your page isn’t the top result, if it answers a query directly, it will still be featured as the first result (that’s why Featured Snippets are also known as “position zero”).
5. Google seems to favor quantifiable answers
By quantifiable, I mean answers that use measurements and statistics, as opposed to answers that are interpretive. This goes hand in hand with Google featuring pages that most directly answer queries.
A study by STAT found that the types of queries that generated the most Featured Snippets were financial terms, math terms, time queries and health queries where things like calories, blood content levels, and symptoms could be listed in response.
6. Keywords with high search volumes trigger more featured snippets
The same study by STAT found that queries with high search volume keywords are twice as likely to yield a Featured Snippet. So it’s worth it to strategically include high volume keywords on your page that directly answer high volume queries. You can figure out what those keywords are easily by using a tool like Google Adwords.
7. Mobile shows different featured snippets
Different pages rank on mobile than desktop, and this affects the Featured Snippets. This likely has something to do with the fact that different pages rank on mobile. I’ve noticed that Google seems to show different snippets depending on your location. Refreshing your search will sometimes yield a different featured snippet.
8. Optimize Your Page For Featured Snippets
With these key takeaways in mind, there are things you can do to optimize your page to try and get a featured snippet. And unlike some of the murkier aspects of SEO, this is a tactic that really encourages you to write informative, readable content.
So work on answering queries directly in your content, using descriptive headers, and breaking processes down into numbered, easy to follow steps. And keep your eye out for new developments as people continue to learn more about featured snippets.
Sara McGuire is a Content Editor at Venngage, an infographic creation tool. In her free time she enjoys reading graphic novels, poetry, and reviewing music.