The Top Spot Guaranteed – Placement as a Featured Snippet on Google
Is the Featured Snippet the Holy Grail of search engine optimization? After all it earns a website placement above the first organic hit. So for that reason, we’re going to take a closer look at the Featured Snippet today. What is it exactly? How does it work? And how can you also find this Holy Grail?
Part 1: What is the Featured Snippet?
The Featured Snippet is a short answer to a question posed by a Google user. It is automatically extracted from a website and placed before the organic search results.
Example of a Featured Snippet for the question, how do I paint a picture. (Source: screenshot google.com)
There are Five Types of Featured Snippets:
- Text – Here, the user is presented with a short text.
- List – Instead of a continuous text, a list is displayed.
- Text / List with image – Here, the text or list is supplemented with an image (photo, graphic).
- Chart – A chart gives the searched information.
- Video – Here, the user is shown a thumbnail of a video. After clicking on it, they are taken to the video’s source site..
Is a Featured Snippet Part of the Google Knowledge Graphs?
With Google Knowledge Graphs, the search engine generates its own answers, for example based on a dictionary, a weather app or a currency calculator. The Snippet, however, is part of the website where the information originates from. In addition, it is also linked to it. The user can therefore call up this webpage directly.
In the image, an answer from the Google Knowledge Graph is visible. Here, it is not possible to call up the answer’s source page, because it originates directly from Google. (Source: screenshot google.com)
How Do I Determine Which Part of my Website Google Should Use as a Featured Snippet?
Google alone determines which information will be placed in a prominent location. You have no direct influence over that. However, if you use specific methods, you can increase the likelihood that a part of your website becomes a Featured Snippet. You’ll find out more about this in the third section: The Path to a Featured Snippet.
Part 2: How Does the Featured Snippet Work?
When a user asks Google a question, the search engine attempts to answer it as accurately as possible with the Featured Snippet. To do this, an algorithm prepares an excerpt from a website. In this excerpt, the question should be answered succinctly, and most importantly correctly.
The user can utilize this information or click directly on the link under the snippet, which takes them to the Internet page where the information originated.
To constantly improve the quality of Featured Snippets, users have the opportunity to rate them via a feedback system.
The feedback button underneath the Featured Snippet. (Source: screenshot google.com)
The snippet can be rated in the subsequent window. (Source: screenshot google.com)
Mobile and Voice Output
The Featured Snippet is particularly important on mobile devices: here, users want to see the answer immediately if possible, because when they’re on the go, there’s usually not a lot of time for extensive research.
When it comes to voice search, things get even more interesting. The smart speaker Google Home for example answers questions posed by its users. In doing so, it doesn’t read out the top ten results from the Google search, but instead it reads the answers provided by the Google Knowledge Graph or the Featured Snippet.
Pros and Cons
The advantages of the Featured Snippet are evident. When mobile devices are used, the Featured Snippet is often the only search result that is looked at. With voice response, the contents of the Featured Snippet is all that is read out. As the result of a search, the Featured Snippet is displayed in a prominent position before all other search results. Your own website is therefore extremely well-placed.
There is also a downside, yet it is debatable. The problem is the following: If the Featured Snippet answers the user question already, why should it link to the source webpage? Could the number of visitors possibly be reduced by a Featured Snippet?
So far, there have been no significant statistical surveys about this question. But those who are concerned about the effect can prevent the search engine from generating excerpts from their site. To do this, you need to enter the following tag in the header: <meta name=”googlebot” content=”nosnippet”>
Part 3: The Path to a Featured Snippet
Note: Google answers questions with a Featured Snippet. Your website must therefore deliver answers.
1. Provide Useful Content
Keyword-heavy rhetoric has long been a taboo for a search-engine-optimized website. Delivering content is the name of the game! That becomes more and more important, as Google algorithms constantly identify better user-relevant content.
2. Know the Questions
Do you know what questions are asked on Google? Unfortunately, the search engine doesn’t publicly disclose statistics about this. Therefore, basic Six Ws are considered very probable.
The Six Ws:
- Where? / From where? / Whereto?
- Why? / How come?
In addition, use the automatic completion feature of Google search to ascertain relevant questions. Do some research on the FAQs of other Internet sites. Have a look at forums and see which questions are being discussed there. This way, you can uncover a wealth of questions little by little.
3. Deliver Answers
Once you know the questions, the job is delivering answers. They must be substantiated and get to the heart of the subject. You have seen it yourself: There’s not much space in the Featured Snippet. The better the question is answered regarding content, and the clearer the answer is, the larger the probability of landing a Featured Snippet is.
Whether the answer follows as a list, chart or pure text depends for the most part on the question. Those who want to know how to make a kite will be pleased with step-by-step instructions. Someone looking for a quote from Goethe about Herder will be satisfied with the appropriate quote in form of a continuous text. So always approach it from the perspective of the user. This is also the stance Google takes.
Tip: With activity-oriented questions, Google seems to prefer lists as the answer type.
4. Use Images, Graphics, Videos
Not just the text is crucial, but also all the trappings. Google has a preference for additional photos and graphics in the Featured Snippet. How-to videos and the like can enhance the answers in the eyes of the user, and with that the search engine.
5. Formulate Correctly to Lead to Your Own Website
The fear of losing users due to a Featured Snippet is not unfounded. Why should they click on your site when they can already find the complete answer on Google? So our advice is to formulate clear and valid answers, while still leaving “gaps”. Users can fill these with a visit to your webpage.
(Quelle: Screenshot google.com)
The preparation of pancakes is described here briefly and aptly. However, the user doesn’t learn which amounts of ingredients they must use. They can only find this out on the source page.
It is advisable to briefly answer the questions in the first paragraph, making it ideal for Snippet building. The more extensive answer then follows in the next section, which is ideal for offering the user more detailed information, and for convincing Google of the quality of your website.
6. Check Out Other Featured Snippet Pages
Search Google for answers to questions that touch on the subject area of your own site. If you receive a Featured Snippet when doing so, then visit its source website. How is it set up? What content does it offer? How comprehensively is the information presented on the page? In short: Analyze the webpage. And always look at it from the aspect of usability, how the website is different from yours. In doing so, you can surely spot some opportunities for improvement.
7. Be Patient
Attaining a top position with Google often takes months, if not years. It is exactly the same with Featured Snippets. So you should constantly work on keeping your website up-to-date. Always offer the best answers to interesting questions, not just one single time. Then, the probability is very high that your website will find the Holy Grail of the Featured Snippet.