Since Google’s search engine was launched, companies and website owners have been competing against each other to hit the top spot on Google for particular keywords related to the products and services they offer.
As the internet grows, more and more businesses are launching a website and also tapping into the world search engine optimisation. Today, improving Google ranking of a website is considered one of the most important aspects of being successful on the internet.
While paid advertising solutions often provide effective results when trying to attract new visitors and grow sales over a short period, these methods can cost a lot of money.
The results provided by Google search rankings, also called organic search traffic, are usually considered more valuable. Traffic that lands on a website as the result of a search can be customised to be highly targeted – many companies have been able to adjust their search engine optimisation strategy in such a way to only attract visitors that are very likely to convert to a customer through their techniques.
The way Google indexes websites and determines which site should rank higher for particular keywords are continually changing. Google frequently announces new updates to their search algorithm. Google Hummingbird, Mobile Friendly Update, Panda Update and Penguin Update are only some of the most recent updates Google has made to their search algorithms, as reported by Search Engine Land.
The search giant also frequently launches new features that enhance the user’s experience while using their search engine. While companies were all battling for the top position on Google, which was usually referred to as position number one, many companies are now changing their strategy and instead aiming for position “0” (zero) to attract more people to their website.
An Introduction To Google’s Featured Snippets
Google only recently introduced their features snippets to the general public. So there are still a large number of internet marketers and website owners who are unaware of how these new featured snippets section works.
As a result, we should start our overlook on how to rank position zero to gain a place at the new featured snippets section by first looking at what Google Featured Snippets are.
One of the most important facts to know about Google’s Featured Snippets is that ranking for such a position means a website can gain a massive level of additional exposure for their brand. If you have recently performed a search on Google, then there is a good chance you have already observed this new feature.
Let’s take a look at a very basic example. Do a Google search for “how far are we from the sun.” You will be presented with a list of results based on the question you have asked Google, but take a look at the top of the results – you’ll see that Google has extracted the answer for you from one of the search results.
In the image above, you can see that Google offers you the answer to the question you asked it – the sun is 150 million kilometres away from the Earth. Easy, right! Now you have the opportunity to get instant answers to questions you may have without having to read through long and time-consuming articles.
Let’s take a look at another example. Search Google for “health risks of smoking” – even without asking a question, Google takes a look at what website can provide easy answers to the question and presents them in bullet point form here.
From the above screenshot, it is easy to determine that smoking causes lung disease and lung cancer, as well as make asthma worse – all without having to read through any articles.
It is quite evident that these featured snippet sections offer an exceptional level of convenience for the average internet user. No longer do they need to browse from one website to another to find answers to questions they may have. Now they merely ask Google a question, and Google answers the question.
While the average internet user is gaining better convenience with these featured snippets, businesses that utilise search engine optimisation also gains an advantage here. By ranking position zero, as these rankings are called, a brand can present instant answers to people searching for questions they can answer – and as a result increase their authority in their niche. All with the goal of raising the chance that a searcher will click through to their website of course.
This is the basis of Google’s new Featured Snippets section. There is more to this new part, but in this article, we will cover the different types of Featured Snippets in Google search results. Next, to that, we will also have a look at how website owners can rank their content in these sections, later on in this post.
The Different Types Of Google Featured Snippets
It is crucial for website owners and internet marketers to understand that the term Featured Snippet refers to different types of content that can be displayed in a section above the search results provided by Google after a user has entered a search term or a question.
Understanding the different types of featured snippets that can be provided to a person searching for an answer to a particular question is essential for website owners. This understanding will allow them to optimise their content in a way to have a higher chance of ranking for a specific type of featured snippet.
Search Engine Journal explains that the primary types of featured snippets where a website can have its content featured in includes the following:
These are the most common kind of featured snippet to be found in search results. Approximately 81.95% of all featured snippets displayed to internet users asking questions to Google are provided in the form of paragraph snippets.
With the paragraph snippet,
- Google considers the question asked by the searcher in their search term. Then analyses the content found on the top ten search results that will be presented to the user.
- Google then attempts to provide an appropriate answer to the question that was asked in the search term in the form of a paragraph, which is provided at the top of the search results in the form of a featured snippet.
Google often provides a paragraph snippet in an attempt to offer the searcher a quick answer to their question when the search phrase includes terms such as “how to get”, “who is”, “what is” and “why is”.
A less popular snippet as compared to paragraph featured snippets!
Yet, a handy type of featured snippet that may be provided as an answer to a question asked by a searcher is a table snippet, also referred to as a table featured snippet.
This particular type of featured snippet is quite intriguing – Google takes a look at the question that was asked and looks for data that can be utilised to provide an appropriate answer to the searcher. Google then creates a table, which can be in the form of a standard table, or even in the way of a graph or pie chart, with the data that was collected.
Another primary type of featured snippets that may be presented after searching Google is list snippets. These snippets come in two different varieties, including bulleted list featured snippets and numbered list featured snippets.
List featured snippets are also very helpful and account for approximately 10.77% of featured snippets provided as answers to questions presented in the Google search box. When these snippets are presented to a searcher, the searcher can observe a list of important points regarding the question they have asked or the information they are looking for.
Numbered list featured snippets are often presented when queries are related to DIY instructions or recipes, as well as when the terms “how to” or “how do I” are included in the search term.
Bullet point featured snippets are often presented when the search query is related to lists of top items, as well as for ranked or unranked items.
The Benefits Of Google’s Featured Snippets Section
There are quite a large number of different reasons why an internet marketer or brand would want to rank for a featured snippet.
Each brand has their own particular goals in mind when it comes to promoting their content and website on the internet. But the benefits offered by Google’s Featured Snippets remain similar amongst all brands trying to rank for this position, regardless of the content they provide and the industry they are targeting.
While it may seem somewhat confusing when you consider the fact that a Featured Snippet ranking is considered to have more potential as when ranking number one for a general Google search query, it has been found that winning the spot for a featured snippet is actually easier than ranking number one for a particular keyword being searched on Google.
Do some searches and take a look – you’ll notice that many of the websites referenced in the Featured Snippet section do not have the first spot for the general search results.
According to MindTouch Success Centre, Google only chooses websites to utilise in their Featured Snippet when they are sure that particular site and the content contained on that website can provide an appropriate answer for the question that was asked.
This means that when your brand’s content is provided as an answer in a featured snippet, it offers the searcher confidence that your website can be trusted. They recommend thinking of ranking for a featured snippet as obtaining a “stamp of approval” from Google that the content on your site is appropriate for the question that is being asked.
In addition to the above-mentioned benefits that a featured snippet ranking can offer a website owner, we should also mention that many companies and brands have noticed that the Click-Through Rate (CTR) and the conversion rates of visitors coming from a featured snippet result seems to be considerably higher than when a visitor comes from a first page result when no featured snippet is provided by Google’s search results.
Another benefit that is worth mentioning offered by Featured Snippets on Google’s search results is the fact that optimising a website’s content for these snippets also helps a website owner make their website’s content appropriate for picking up better in voice searches at the same time.
This means that internet marketers do not have to utilise two different strategies for recent updates to Google’s search features – one strategy helps a website rank better in Featured Snippets and also makes the website’s content ready for voice search. It also works the other way round – if a website owner optimises their content for voice search, there is a better chance that they would rank for Featured Snippets.
Optimizing Content For Winning A Featured Snippet
Now that you have an understanding of what a featured snippet is, its different types and advantages, it’s time to discuss how a business or internet marketer can optimize their website to help them achieve a higher chance of winning a position for a featured snippet on Google’s search results for particular keywords or questions they wish to rank for.
Always Start With Keyword Research
Just like with standard SEO, the starting point of an effective strategy to dominate the featured snippet section of Google is to start out with some proper old keyword research.
You need to take a look at potential keywords in your niche that your website ranks for at the moment, as well as identify new possible keywords that you can aim to rank for. These keywords will not only come in handy to help you identify more keyword ranking opportunities but will also help you structure questions in such a way that your website does not only have a chance to rank for featured snippets but still meets the keyword-optimisation requirements for standard rankings.
Identify Potential Questions Your Website Can Answer
Once you have identified the top keywords your website is already ranking for, as well as additional new keywords have been identified, it is time to find questions asked by Google users that include these keywords.
The questions that are asked should be appropriate to the industry your business is targeting, and you need to make sure that your brand can answer such questions in a transparent way and in a manner that will establish your brand as an authority.
Create Content In The Q&A Format
Once keywords and questions have been identified, it is time to optimise the existing content of a website in such a way that they present a Question-and-Answer (Q&A) format.
Provide the question that is being asked by the user, then provide an answer to the question. Try to give a detailed solution that will show Google that your brand is an authority and can offer the correct answer to a particular question.
Make sure Google will be able to identify the fact that your website is answering a particular question by including that question in the content of the page you are trying to rank in the Featured Snippets section.
Consider Other Factors Of SEO As Well
While it is important to follow the tips mentioned above to ensure your website has a better chance of winning a Featured Snippet ranking in Google, you should not forget to attend to the other particular factors that affect SEO as well.
Google only extracts data from the top few pages that rank for a particular keyword or question to provide an answer to a searcher through the Google Featured Snippet section. This means that not attending to other areas of SEO reduces your website’s chance of ranking high in Google, which also reduces your chance of winning a Featured Snippet spot for a particular question.
Unamo recommends attending to all of the most important factors about SEO, including on-page and off-page factors that can affect a website’s ranking. When it comes to your content marketing strategy, be sure to target social media channels, as well as guest blogs with high ranking metrics. These will all boost your website’s ranking; thus placing you in the top spots where Google extracts data from for featured snippets.
Constantly updating the content
Once your content gets featured in the snippets, the most critical part then is how to stay put there!
One of the ways is to continually update the content as per the current trend so that it stays relevant for the given point of time.
Also, regularly checking out your competitor’s content and staying more brief and clear than your competitor’s piece would work!
The way we optimise the content on our websites changes frequently as Google announces new updates to how they rank pages for specific keywords that are found on these pages, as well as for keywords that seem to be related to the content on a particular web page.
One of the more recent additions to how Google presents results when a person uses the search engine is featured snippets- content that displays answers to questions at the very top of all results provided by Google.
Since Google’s Featured Snippets are still relatively new, a lot of internet marketers and website owners are not yet sure how they can reach that position zero spot on Google and gain the ultimate position that allows them to expose the content on their website to millions of people searching for information related to the data contained on their site.
In this post, we provided a comprehensive guide on what Google’s Featured Snippets are, we looked at the different types of featured snippets that a website can rank for, and we provided a complete overview on how an internet marketer can win that position zero spot and rank for a featured snippet.
So what are your experiences with featured snippets? Is any part of your content positioned at position zero? What is it doing for traffic and conversation on your website?
This is a guest post by Stevan Mcgrath, Stevan is a digital marketing professional who possesses expertise in brand design and development. Stevan is passionate about utilising his diverse skill sets for new and innovative online marketing strategies. He has worked as a freelancer and a contributor to ProvenSEO.
Despite having a wide influential reach, he seeks client satisfaction as his topmost priority. He also writes blog posts on recent digital marketing trends. To know his work and more details you can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+.