Learn how to optimize your content to improve your chances of winning featured snippets and getting more attention in search results. On this page, we'll teach you everything you need to know to set yourself up for search engines to choose your content for featured snippets.
We'll start the article by answering the question, "What is a featured snippet," and discuss why they are important. Then, we'll go into the types of featured snippets and how you can optimize your on-page content to help you win them. So let's get started!
What Are Featured Snippets?
Featured snippets are small excerpts of text search engines take from websites they have determined to be credible, authoritative, and quality resources on the topic. Winning these snippets often gets the winning websites more traffic than just being ranked first would have. Many consider featured snippets to be position 0, which is even more beneficial than being ranked first.
There are many types of featured snippets, and ultimately, it depends on the kind of content you are making as far as what types you will be competing for.
Why Are Featured Snippets Important In SEO?
Featured snippets are important in SEO because achieving them is technically better than ranking first in search results. More people will trust the website referenced in Google snippets than a website ranking first. For this reason, most SEOs strive to win these snippets. While it can be difficult, with proper on-page optimizations, winning snippets is very possible.
If you want to learn more about optimizing your content to perform better in search engines and improve your chances of winning snippets, head to our on-page SEO pillar page to learn everything you need about on-page SEO. But, regarding featured snippets, let's dive into the six main types you need to know about!
What Types of Featured Snippets Are There?
Search engines are constantly evolving, and there are technically more types of featured snippets than these six, but these are the most common types you are likely to see in search results. With the addition of Google Bard, these may even become obsolete soon.
1. Paragraph Snippets
Paragraph snippets are the ones you are most likely to see, as these are simply a paragraph taken from a website that best answers or touches on the user's query. These are very useful for providing quick answers to queries and helping to encourage users to visit the featured page.
2. List Snippets
List snippets are much like paragraph snippets in that they are a list taken from a single website that best answers the user's query. So, for example, if you asked what steps you should take to bake a cake, you might see a featured snippet with steps 1-15 that show you every step that needs to be taken to bake a cake.
3. Table Snippets
Google will take a table from an eligible website that accurately satisfies the user's query or fashion one on its own with the available data. These types of queries commonly appear when there are comparison queries, structured information, or data sets.
4. Video Snippets
Video snippets are used when the query is best answered by content shared in a video or the query refers to a video directly. In addition to the video snippet, there will normally be a timestamp and some information regarding what the specific timestamp is talking about.
5. Image Snippets
While not often, image snippets are usually used for queries where visual representation is more than enough data to answer the question effectively.
6. Knowledge Graph & Knowledge Panel Snippets
Knowledge Graphs aren't standard snippets, but you can often see them off to the right side of search results with a complete informational profile of a specific person, company, institution, or animal.
How to Optimize for a Featured Snippet?
The best way to optimize for a featured snippet is by providing as much semi-structured data as possible through the use of Schema. Granted, if the rest of your content isn't optimized, this will not matter as much, so the first step is to ensure your content is more well-suited for the user's query than your competitors.
1. Research The Competition
You should take the first 3-5 competitors already ranking 0-5 in search results. Analyze their organic keywords, the number of images videos, the length of their content, etc. Analyze everything about their pages to create a rough guideline you can follow so you know you have enough unique images, content, etc.
Thoroughly researching your competitors is by far one of the fastest ways to ensure you write content that stands a good chance of ranking well in search results. Once you have conducted enough competitive research, the next step is to take their organic keywords to help you fashion a list of keywords you will need to incorporate organically throughout your content.
It is important to note that while you are analyzing these competitors, you are looking for far more than just their organic keywords. But we will touch on other things you are searching for in their content later in this list.
2. Do Proper Keyword Research
Now that you have analyzed your competitors and you have all of their organic keywords in a list, you can begin to research them to determine which keywords you will target the most. Your goal is to determine which keyword makes the most sense for your primary keyword and then which keywords you can use for synonyms, keyword variations, and keywords you need to use in order for search engines to deem you related enough to rank with your competitors.
We go into more detail in this type of research on our keyword research page, so head over there to check out how to maximize your potential with thorough keyword research.
3. Be Comprehensive
When analyzing your top 3-5 competitors, in addition to keywords, you are also looking for what topics they cover in their headings. Your goal is to collect the headings (H1 - H6) of each page. When you have each heading of all of your competitors in a CSV file, you can put together a comprehensive heading structure.
Just from doing this step, you will have headings that some competitors have and others do not. But every unique heading each competitor has, you will also have. In addition to collecting all of the topics your competitors are touching on, it is important to determine their gaps, especially if they all share the same gaps.
In other words, there should still be headings or topics you can touch on that none of the 3-5 competitors you have analyzed have in their content. These are known as gaps. Your main goal is to write enough headings on the topic your page is based on so that you can cover everything related to that topic. Ideally, many of the points you touch on will be gaps in your competitor's content to help you rank up more easily.
In addition to gathering these headings, you also need to ensure that you structure them as logically as possible. Ideally, you fashion a heading structure that is more complete than your competing pages and more logically organized as well.
4. Create Unique Content
Now, in step 3, we might have suggested that you take headings from your competitors, but that in no way implies that you should copy content from them.
You will take headings from your competitors to help you flesh out a comprehensive page structure, but all content, headings should be as unique as possible. At times, it will make sense to copy a few headings exactly if you find that they are valuable organic keywords you need to include in your page, but in general, your headings should also be phrased and worded differently from your competitors.
To learn more about how you can write creative, quality, and unique content, you can check out our page, which shows you everything you need to know to write quality-optimized content.
5. Use Headings Properly
Doing thorough research and writing quality content isn't enough if you use improper heading structures. You can write the highest-quality content in all of human history, but if you don't use the right headings in the right places, search engines will still not see your content as the quality it is.
Using proper heading structure is how you communicate with search engines, so you need to make sure that you are breaking your content down properly. We'll go into more detail about heading structures on a separate page, but for a quick refresher, we'll walk you through the main points.
Every page needs one H1 tag and no more. H1 tags tell search engines what the page is about. The page is broken up into different sections, which H2 tags should describe. Then, each subsection in these sections should be broken up by H3 - H6 tags.
6. Use Schema
In the same way, headings help search engines understand the structure of your document (web page), search engines use Schema as a sort of semi-structured data to understand the topic, goals, and content on your pages to an even higher degree. If you have two identical pages on two identical competing websites, the one with Schema will always win.
Schema will not make a huge difference, but it is the cherry on top of an already-optimized sundae. If you do everything you can to write the best content possible and you ensure everything is optimized and structured properly, Schema will make a huge difference in the long term.
You can also use Schema to communicate to search engines what you want them to use for featured snippets. Now, they don't have to listen to your suggestion, but they will be more likely to use your suggestion than other content on your page - depending on the query you end up winning a featured snippet for.
7. Don't Stress
At the end of the day, you can have the most optimized website in all of the search results, with the best content, and you still might not win featured snippets. It isn't something that can be bet on, but it is something you should strive for.
All you can do is try your best and make adjustments as time passes. If you win a snippet, congratulations, but if you are unable to secure one, don't stress about it. Just keep creating quality content, building quality backlinks, and adjusting your content as needed.