How to Rank on Featured Snippet

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How to rank on featured snippet

Featured snippets offer an unparalleled opportunity for visibility and engagement. 

For SEO professionals, mastering the art of securing these positions is not just about driving traffic; it's about demonstrating expertise and authority in an increasingly competitive digital landscape. 

This guide is crafted for those who already navigate the complexities of SEO with ease, focusing on advanced strategies to conquer "position zero."

Understanding Featured Snippets

1. Defining Featured Snippets:

  • Direct answers to queries, occupying the top of Google's SERPs.
  • Serve as Google's vote of confidence in your content's authority and relevance.

2. Strategic Importance:

  • Commanding Visibility & Increased CTR:

Featured snippets capture the top spot in SERPs, often referred to as "position zero." Studies show that featured snippets can achieve a click-through rate (CTR) up to 8% higher than the first traditional organic result. [Source]

  • Enhanced Organic Reach:

Websites featured in snippets see an increase in organic traffic by an average of 20-30%, as they stand out from other search results. [Source]

  • Symbol of Topical Authority:

Earning a featured snippet is Google's endorsement of your content's authority on the subject matter. Research indicates that pages holding featured snippets are perceived as more trustworthy by users, enhancing brand credibility. [Source]

3. How Does Google Choose Feature Snippets:

Google selects featured snippets based on several key factors:

  • Relevance: Content must directly answer the search query.
  • Clarity and Conciseness: Answers that are clear, concise, and to the point are preferred.
  • Content Structure: Well-structured content using headings, lists, or tables aligns with snippet formats.
  • Authority: Content from credible and authoritative sources is favored.
  • SEO Optimization: Well-optimized pages with good SEO practices stand a better chance.
  • User Engagement: High click-through rates indicate valuable content to users.
  • Content Freshness: Updated content is crucial for time-sensitive queries.

4. Top Featured Snippet Types:

Paragraphs: Concise, authoritative answers.

Example of Paragraphs in Featured Snippet

Lists: Ordered or unordered, perfect for procedural content.

Examples of Lists in Featured Snippet

Tables: Comparative data or structured information.

Examples of Tables in Featured Snippet

Video Snippets: Video clips that address specific queries.

Examples of Video Snippets in Featured Snippet

Are you ready for a Featured Snippet?

  • Existing SERP Presence: If your content already ranks in the top 10 search results for a targeted query, it stands a better chance of being selected for a featured snippet.
  • Structured Content: Google favors well-structured content for featured snippets. This includes the use of headings, lists, tables, and bullet points that clearly organize information in a way that's easy for search engines to interpret.
  • Direct Answers: Your content should provide concise, direct answers to specific questions. Aim for succinct paragraphs, step-by-step lists, or clear data tables that match the format of common featured snippets
  • Content Quality and Relevance: Your content must be authoritative, thoroughly researched, and directly relevant to the queries you're targeting. High-quality content is a prerequisite for snippet consideration.
  • Keyword Optimization: Ensure your content is optimized for keywords that are likely to trigger featured snippets. These often include question-based queries and high-volume search terms related to your niche.
  • Mobile-Friendliness: With the increasing prevalence of mobile searches, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is crucial. Google is more likely to feature snippets from sites that offer a seamless mobile experience.
  • Page Speed: Fast-loading pages are more likely to be featured. Google prioritizes user experience, and page speed is a significant factor in this regard.
Featured Snippet Stats- by Semrush

8 Best Practices to Rank on Featured Snippets

1. Identifying Opportunities 

Use Ahrefs to find quick win opportunities-

  • Navigate to Ahrefs and enter your domain into the Site Explorer tool.
  • Proceed to the "Organic Keywords" section.
  • Apply a filter for rankings, setting the position to the top 10.
  • Use the SERP feature filter, selecting "Featured Snippet" where your target currently does not rank.
  • With the same technique you can also steal your competitors featured snippets. 
Find positions on organic keywords with Ahrefs
Find list of all organic keywords

2. Target Keyword Clusters

  • Open Ahrefs Keyword Explorer: Start by navigating to the Keyword Explorer tool within Ahrefs.
  • Enter Your Topic: Input the main topic you're targeting into the search field to explore relevant keywords.
  • Apply 'Target' Filter: Click on the 'Target' filter, enter your domain, and select the option to "show keywords target ranks for in top 10".
  • Set 'SERP Features' Filter: Choose the 'SERP features' filter, then select 'on SERP' followed by 'Featured Snippet'.

This process will display keywords related to your topic for which Google shows featured snippets, and where your domain already ranks in the top 10, pinpointing precise opportunities for snippet optimization.

Keywords target ranks for in top 10 position
Keywords target ranks for 'Featured Snippet'

3. Know the User's Intent

Understanding user intent is crucial when optimizing content for featured snippets. User intent refers to the underlying goal a person has when typing a query into a search engine. 

By aligning your content with this intent, you increase the chances of securing a featured snippet. Here are key intents and how to optimize for them, with examples:

  • Informational Intent

Users seek specific information or knowledge.

  • Example Query: "What is blockchain technology?"
  • Optimization Strategy: Provide a clear, concise definition or explanation at the beginning of your content. Use a paragraph format for direct answers.
Example- Informational Intent
  • Instructional Intent

Users are looking for how-to guides or step-by-step processes.

  • Example Query: "How to repot a plant"
  • Optimization Strategy: Structure your content in a numbered list format, detailing each step of the process. Ensure steps are clear and easy to follow.
Example- Instructional Intent
  • Visual/Instructional Intent

Users prefer visual instructions or demonstrations.

Example Query for Video Snippet: "Basic dance steps"

Optimization: A video snippet showing a step-by-step guide or demonstration is ideal. Ensure your video is well-titled, tagged, and includes a descriptive transcript.

Example- Visual Intent
  • Data-Driven Intent

Users seek specific data or statistics.

Example Query for Table Snippet: "Earnings of top US companies"

Optimization: A table snippet showcasing company names alongside their earnings can effectively convey this information. Ensure the table is clearly labeled and organized.

Example- Data driven Intent

4. Analyzing the Existing Feature Snippet ranking on SERP

Search for your target query. For example, for search query, “Malware” Google is showing an excerpt from Malwarebytes.

Analyzing the Existing Feature Snippet ranking on SERP

Leverage Google's "About this result" option, currently under beta testing, by clicking on the three dots adjacent to the URL.

Google highlights that a key reason for choosing Malwarebytes's article is due to many other websites linking to it using the same search term.

About this result- Featured Snippet
Your search and this result- Featured Snippet

Further, Evaluate the Content-Type and Format

Identify whether the snippet is a paragraph, list, table, or video. This indicates the format Google deems most useful for answering the query.

Assess the length and structure of the content within the snippet. Note any patterns that might contribute to its featured status.

Content Quality and Completeness

Analyze the depth and accuracy of the information provided. Does the snippet offer a complete answer? Is there updated or more comprehensive information you could provide?

Look for unique angles or additional insights not covered in the existing snippet that could add value for the user.

On-Page SEO Factors

Review the source page of the snippet for on-page SEO optimization, including the use of the target query in headings, meta tags, and within the content.

Check the page's loading speed and mobile-friendliness, as these factors can influence snippet selection.

Backlink Profile and Page Authority

Examine the backlink profile and domain authority of the page holding the snippet. High-quality backlinks and strong domain authority can contribute to snippet selection.

Consider strategies to improve your page's authority through quality backlinks and internal linking.

5. Content Creation Strategies/ Snippet Ready Content 

  • Target Question-Based Queries

Focus on creating content that answers specific questions. Use keyword research tools to identify common questions in your niche.

Structure your content to directly answer these questions early in your text.

  • Use Clear, Concise Language

Aim for simplicity and clarity in your answers. Google often features content that provides direct, easy-to-understand answers to users' questions.

Keep your sentences short and to the point, especially in sections of your content that answer key questions.

  • Format Content for Different Snippet Types

Paragraphs: When targeting paragraph snippets, answer questions directly in a brief section at the beginning of your content.

Lists: For list snippets, use bullet points or numbered lists to outline steps, tips, or items clearly.

Tables: When information can be compared or data presented, format it into a table for easy digestion.

Videos: For topics that benefit from visual demonstration, create and embed a video that succinctly answers the query.

  • Optimize for User Intent

Understand the intent behind the search query and tailor your content to meet that need. Whether it's seeking knowledge, understanding a process, or comparing options, your content should provide the most relevant answer.

  • Structure with Headers, Subheaders & Formatting 

Use H1, H2, and H3 tags to organize your content logically. Structured articles with headings, lists, and tables not only helps with readability but also allows search engines to better understand the structure and relevance of your content.

  • Incorporate Keywords Naturally

Include the target question and related keywords naturally within your content, especially in headings and near the beginning of your answers.

  • Keep Your Content Fresh and Updated

Regularly update your content to ensure it remains accurate and relevant. Google favors up-to-date information, especially for time-sensitive queries.

  • Use Schema Markup

Implement schema markup to help search engines understand the context of your content. While not a direct ranking factor for featured snippets, it can improve your overall SEO.

6. Importance of ‘Is’ & other Content Formatting

"The word 'is' frequently acts as a key trigger for securing featured snippets. In our analysis, we observed that among all types, paragraph snippets were predominant, and those are often triggered by the use of 'is.'

7. Ask and Answer Questions

  • Direct Approach: Pose common questions as headings and follow immediately with concise answers.
  • Question Keywords: Incorporate question-based keywords naturally within the content to align with search queries.

8. Overall On-Page Optimization Parameters

  • Title and Meta Descriptions: Include target keywords to improve relevance and click-through rates.
  • URL Structure: Use clean, descriptive URLs that include keywords.
  • Internal Linking: Use internal links to boost page authority and help search engines understand content hierarchy.
  • Concise Heading Structure: Use clear, concise headings (H1, H2, H3) to organize content logically, making it easier for search engines to understand and feature your content in snippets.
  • Natural Keyword Usage: Integrate keywords smoothly throughout your content, ensuring they complement the natural flow of the text and enhance relevance without compromising readability.
  • Contextual Keywords and LSI: Incorporate semantically related and LSI keywords to add depth, making your content more relevant for a wider array of queries.
  • Add Images and Videos to Make Content More Engaging
  • Visual Aids: Incorporate relevant images and videos to complement your text, making the content more engaging and informative.
  • Alt Text and Descriptions: Use descriptive alt text and captions for images and videos, including target keywords where appropriate to enhance SEO.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Optimizing For Featured Snippets

  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Not answering directly to the queries
  • Long Answers
  • No use of Subheadings
  • Poor Page Design
  • Lack of Mobile Friendliness

Advanced Techniques / Additional Optimization Techniques

Secure The Featured Snippets That You Already Own

  • Regular Content Updates: Keep the content fresh and updated with the latest information to maintain its relevance and authority.
  • Monitor Search Trends: Stay abreast of changing search trends and adjust your content accordingly to ensure it continues to meet user intent.
  • Enhance User Engagement: Improve the user experience on your page to increase dwell time and reduce bounce rates, signaling to Google the value and relevance of your content.

Using AI in Featured Snippet Optimization

  • Using AI to Check Your Snippets Against Others

Use AI tools to see how your snippets compare to your competitors. This can help you find out what's good about your content and what needs to be better in comparison to ranking featured snippets of your competitors.

  • Get ChatGPT to Update Your Snippet

Give ChatGPT your initial snippet draft and ask it to enhance the content to align more closely with what Google looks for:

"Please use NLP-compatible formatting to refine this draft paragraph, aiming to optimize it for Google's featured snippet box for the search term [keyword]: [your paragraph]".

How To Rank For Multiple Featured Snippet Queries For Same Page

  • Comprehensive Content Coverage: Create content that comprehensively covers a topic, addressing multiple facets and related questions within a single page.
  • Strategic Keyword Clustering: Group related keywords and questions together in your content. Use subheadings to clearly delineate each section, making it easier for Google to identify relevant snippets.
  • Use of Varied Content Formats: Incorporate a mix of content formats (text, lists, tables, images, videos) within the same page to cater to different types of featured snippets, increasing your chances of ranking for multiple queries.

Take the example of the below page, which is ranking for 141 keywords -

Fortinet example- one page, ranking for 141 keywords

Success Stories

1. 400%+ Increase in Featured Snippet Keywords

Client Profile:

The client, based out of the US, is a leading cybersecurity solutions provider globally. The key offerings include a wide range of products and services to help businesses protect their networks, devices, and data. A client has been the leader in the Gartner magic quadrant for the last couple of years in some of the key cybersecurity segments like SD-WAN, Network Security, and Next Generation Firewall

The Challenge:

Fortinet had previously achieved a high-ranking position for 416 keywords with featured snippets but faced difficulty in further expanding its reach in the highly competitive cybersecurity industry.

Additionally, we analyzed the number of featured snippets acquired by Fortinet's close competitors and found that they had three times as many. This indicates a missed opportunity for Fortinet, a leader in the industry, to improve its position. There is significant scope for improvement as Fortinet currently holds only one-fifth of the potential 2000 keywords on featured snippets.

Benefits To The Client:

  • 400+% increase in the no of keywords appearing in featured snippets.
  • 600+% increase in the number of users.

Current Digital Landscape:

  • The website content is not optimized for targeted keywords in featured snippets
  • Content lacking comprehensiveness, informativeness, and structure for featured snippet eligibility.
  • Technical issues (slow page speed, poor website architecture, incorrect metadata) hinder featured snippet appearance.
  • Content not aligned with the search intent of targeted keywords, reducing the likelihood of being in featured snippets.

What Was Done :

  • Identified high-volume keywords like TCP (Global MSV - 267K), DDoS (Global MSV - 189K), and DNS meaning (Global MSV - 37K) where feature snippet is appearing in SERP and Fortinet is currently ranking between 2-10th position.
  • Analyzed competitors' search queries and featured snippet content.
  • The content was restructured in order to improve organization and optimize keywords. For instance, for keywords such as "benefits of SD-WAN", a list-type feature snippet was observed to be appearing. As a result, the content was reorganized in a similar fashion. On the other hand, for keywords such as "proxy server", "login credentials", and "how does a VPN work", a paragraph-type feature snippet was found to be appearing. Consequently, the content was restructured accordingly.

Before -

Before Optimization

After -

After Optimization

Key Performance Indicators:

  • They achieved an impressive increase in the number of keywords appearing in featured snippets, going from 416 to 2.1K i.e. 404.81% increase.
  • The number of users increases from 15.6K to 124.4K i.e. 697.44% increase.
Increase in Keyword Ranking after Optimization
Keyword Optimization- Pre & Post FS Optimization

2. 𝐞𝐅𝐀𝐗 (𝐃𝐀 50) 𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐈𝐑𝐒 (𝐃𝐀 92) 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐤 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐭𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐊𝐖  '𝐈𝐑𝐒 𝐅𝐚𝐱 𝐍𝐮𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐬' 

eFax, a leader in online fax services, threw a challenge to LeadWalnut:

Improve ranking from 12th position for “IRS Fax Numbers”. But page 1 was dominated by IRS pages.

Facing off against a DA 92 giant seemed daunting, but guess what? Challenge crushed.

eFAX captured the #1 position in 6 weeks!

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐝:

✔ Analyzed competitors' URL ratings, organic keywords, and backlinks

✔Applied our ‘Blog 360 framework’ to identify improvements needed.

✔Revamped URL structures, titles, and meta tags.

✔Infused content with SEO-driven headers and keywords.

✔Introduced FAQ sections with schema to dominate searches.

✔Internal links with 4-5 key pages

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐝𝐧’𝐭 𝐝𝐨-

# Buy backlinks

# Write AI generated content

𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐬: eFax didn't just hit the first page; it dominated it by ranking #1 for 'IRS fax number', outperforming IRS, and securing the featured snippet spot.

eFax ranking on Featured Snippet
Increase in site traffic

How can LeadWalnut help?

LeadWalnut is an ISO-certified enterprise SEO specialist focused on helping you to maximize rankings, traffic, and conversions from your website.
LeadWalnut uses a combination of Content Strategy, Video Marketing, and Social engagement techniques to improve web performance.
LeadWalnut builds world-class websites, creates engaging success stories, and refines key messages around offerings, and problem areas to build trust and emotional connections with prospects.

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