A Google Featured Snippet is a special feature at the top of a search inquiry on Google. Based on the search inquiry, Google will look for websites with the best answer and feature them at the top of the page, highlighted in a box. Being presented as a Google featured snippet is extremely valuable for driving organic search traffic. According to Moz, studies show that click-through rates (CTR) increased by 6 percent, and others saw a 20 to 30 percent increase in traffic after their websites were featured as Google Snippets. But here’s the catch, you can’t pick and choose when your website will be featured.
So, how do you optimize your content to be the chosen snippet on a given keyword or search phrase?
Here is the Google Featured Snippets Best Practices Checklist:
- Start with long-tail queries or targeted keyword.
Long-tail queries or targeted keywords are essential in search-engine optimization (SEO). Questions or long-tail queries trigger Google snippets more because users like to ask specific questions. How then do you respond? Make sure to include long-tail keywords in your content as this will increase the engagement when Google is crawling your webpage.
What keywords you use, however, is important in this endeavor. A keyword planner will help you research what keywords are relevant and receiving the most action, plus track keywords you currently use. Consider using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or Moz’s to determine what works best for your content.
- Ensure titles are descriptive.
The titles you use to name your blog/article/page are the same ones you will see on a search engine result. It’s the clickable title tied to your HTML, which is called a Title Tag. These are between 50-60 characters and should include keywords related to the content.
The optimal format for and previews of your Title Tags are found here.
It’s important to remember that your Title Tags also appear in the URL once a user clicks your HTML headline. Google looks at page titles to help rate the relevance of the page to the search. Putting a lot of thought into fresh, unique titles goes a long way in optimizing for Google search.
- Follow on-page SEO best practices.
If you already rank within the top 10 search results, the chances of your website being featured increases dramatically. So, if Google considers your website good enough for their first page of search results, then they think highly of you. To secure this, make sure your search engine optimization (SEO) follows Google’s new 2018 guidelines and your site’s content is relevant and valuable.
Here are important SEO practices to remember:
– Keyword research.
– Descriptive meta and title tags.
– Backlinking or linking to other websites throughout your webpage.
– Image use attracts the reader. Check out Search Engine Journal’s tips to optimize your image for SEO.
– Meta description. Google made search results snippets longer than your traditional ~160-character count. In fact, according to Moz, the new character count range is 230 to 320.
Check out Orbit Media’s SEO checklist to make sure you’re optimizing your webpage to the fullest.
- Write structured content that answers questions.
Google loves the “how-to” lists and easily scannable benefit statements, so answer the questions people type into Google! Having structured content makes it easier to be featured since it demonstrates organization and comprehensiveness of your audience.
- Content should be at least 1,500-2,000 words.
Short and right to the point isn’t always true. Consider the length of articles you write. Google “rewards” users with content between 1,500-2,000 words, but there are many posts within that range. To stand apart and be competitive, content with 2,000+ words is more ideal. This is called long-form content.
Mixing it up is key when it comes to long-form content. Try increasing length, adding images, and backlinking to other articles, for example. These strategies draw your readers in and help you cover specific content in a great amount of detail.
And remember from the best practices we previously discussed: long-tail queries trigger Google snippets and if someone is searching for something specific, they will want an article to answer all their questions in one place.
However, Google doesn’t rank or feature based solely on the word count. The main objective is to write relevant content. If you type away in hopes of reaching a minimum word count, stop. Longer content + fantastic content is the key.
Neil Patel, makes a great case for longer content and Google’s algorithm. Longer content requires more research, which leads to more backlinking in your article. More backlinking increases your SEO. Neil also states (with facts): Longer content has more social shares, organic traffic, higher social engagement, and usually has a higher search engine results page (SERP) ranking. Let’s examine one of Neil’s data points in the following graph. The x-axis is the number of words in an article, and the y-axis is the average SERP ranking.
Getting featured as a Google snippet requires implementation of various strategies and is not the result of one or two tweaks. The great news is combining all of these strategies will increase your success of being featured and improve your overall SEO.
For more SEO tips, check out our blog and Academy to optimize your content for search.
Last modified: August 15th, 2018