How to write content for Google’s Featured Snippets

Posted on January 26, 2018

 

It seems almost on a weekly basis that I hear someone tell me that SEO is dead, it’s a waste of time and it doesn’t work anymore. I’m usually being told this by someone who, strangely, doesn’t get any business from the internet and their website does absolutely nothing for them.

It’s strange, that.

So are they correct? Well, by their own dismissing of SEO, and often the internet as a whole, they have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. If they don’t think it works, they won’t invest in it and, naturally, they’ll get nothing through the internet – thus proving themselves correct. Well done, them! A big pat on the back for being correct!

Of course, those people who do understand that SEO works are happily working away on their websites, improving them and producing some great content that achieves even greater results.
One such strategy, and something the SEO naysayers will never grasp, is striving for the Google Featured Snippet.

If you haven’t seen it, a Google Featured Snippet is the box that appears, usually at the top of Google, when a website so perfectly answers a user’s question that Google feels it should be featured. As such, they’re often referred to as Google Answer Boxes.

When a website has a Google Featured Snippet, the traffic it receives for related searches can increase significantly compared to the level it would receive for a first page ranking, or even a number one ranking.

For instance, the below featured snippet we have achieved for one of our clients results in hundreds of visits per month, just from one piece of content.

This illustrates the importance of blogging, as many Google Rich Snippets can be achieved by blogging around specific topics, or questions that your potential client or customer may have. If it’s something your target market may Google the answer to, your website needs to have that answer.

You may be thinking “yes, this all makes sense, but it won’t work in MY industry”. Perhaps your industry is very competitive, or there’s already a lot of content out there from other websites. That really doesn’t matter, as it’s HOW the content is written that makes it work.

For example, the below image is from another Google Rich Snippet for a finance-related client.

So how do you do this? How do you go after Google Rich Snippets, and how does Google choose what sites should be used, and for what queries?

Here’s how to optimise for a Google Featured Snippet

Firstly, not every website can achieve them – at least not right away. Google tends to prioritise websites that already rank on the first page of results for a particular search term. However, your website doesn’t necessarily have to rank at #1 for the search in order to be chosen as a featured snippet.

So, if your website ranks nowhere at the moment, you have work to do! If your site does feature some good rankings, you’re in with a chance.

Now, you need to do your keyword research, and identify the sorts of keywords your target audience will be searching for, and HOW they’ll be searching for them. These take the forms of questions. You can do this simply by Googling for the questions, and seeing what the results are. See what other suggestions Google offers, and what rich snippets, if any, already appear.

For instance, if you were an SEO company (like Engage Web) and you were looking at ‘Google Featured Snippets’ as a search term, you might go to Google and enter something like:

“How do I get Google Featured Snippets”

This produces a featured snippet for a content marketing company. It also produces a box of related questions, which include:

• What is a Google featured snippet?
• What is a snippet in Google?
• What is the Google answer box?

These are the questions people are asking on Google. These are the questions a website needs to answer in order to be considered for a Google Featured Snippet.

You then have to create your content, a new page on your website or a blog, around the questions. The page or blog MUST ask the question you are answering, and should ask it in several different ways, or ask slightly different questions that are still related.

Once a piece of content has been chosen by Google as a rich snippet for a search query, it’s very likely to be selected again for another search query.

Your answers to the question should also contain a concise, well-written summary. Google needs something to use in its snippet box.

In conclusion

Doing all of this doesn’t just increase your chances of achieving Google Featured Snippets, it also improves your content. You’ll research your pieces better in order to fully answer the questions your website’s visitors are asking, your content will be better structured and your website will receive far more visits from Google from long-tail search queries you couldn’t possibly have foreseen.

Of course, all of this is very time consuming and not everyone can do it for their website. It’s something Engage Web does every day for clients, and is one aspect of SEO that, contrary to the opinions of some, is far from dead.

Darren Jamieson

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 15 years’ experience in these fields.

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