Featured snippets are quickly becoming the only search results for many queries, but what are they?
What is a featured snippet?
A featured snippet is a summarised answer to a user's search query. You've probably seen quite a few while searching on Google, but not known what you were looking at. Featured snippets come in varying forms; from paragraphs, lists or tables. Let's Google 'how to bake a cake' so you can see an example of Featured Snippets in the form of a list.
You can see the featured snippets are given a large spece above the organic listings, and even any AdWord campaigns. They almost fill your whole screeen. Google includes answers in featured snippets at the top of search because it is faster than sending users to the source page — no matter how fast the source page loads.
In fact, from a marketing perspective, featured snippets are highly desirable. Top positioning in Google mobile or desktop search results can help URLs garner greater visibility than traditional results, although Google may soon change this, it is currently possible for sites to appear in both the featured snippet and the organic results, giving those sites lots of visibility on the SERPs.
What makes a good featured snippet?
If you’re wondering what Google looks for in a featured snippet, it can be helpful to identify existing snippets and review the pages from which they’re pulling info. By reviewing winning content, we can start to get an idea of what Google wants.
If you have a page that you believe has the potential to produce a featured snippet, consider the search query (or queries) that might be appropriate and check them for featured snippets. If your desired search query does produce a featured snippet, take a look at the “winning” snippet, as well as the “candidates,” to get an idea of what you could be doing better.
Featured Snippet Observations & Tips
Ensure that your content is as complete and useful as possible. If you compare the featured snippet and candidate examples above, it is easy to see that one is not as helpful as the other. For instance, the second featured snippet (the candidate) is difficult to understand, has more steps and does not include basic information like the amount of sugar needed.
The featured snippet display can vary based on the quality of the information provided and/or other factors. The featured snippet candidate below appeared a week or so after the candidate above. Google has actually bolded the word “sugar” in the featured snippet candidate even though it does not appear to be bolded in the landing page. Notice also that the example below is in more paragraph format than bulleted list.
Featured snippets appear most often for informational queries. These queries may be in the form of questions, words, fragments or statements.
Consider your content formatting. Answers to featured snippets queries do not have to be marked up in a special way but structured data markup and elements like bullets, bold/strong, ordered and unordered lists are not a bad idea.
Higher quality, better information is of little value if users cannot understand it. Ensure featured snippet content is written in a way that most people can read and understand.
Instead of focusing on word count, focus on characters. The key is to ensure featured snippets can fit on the screen of mobile devices. If you do not have testing devices, try Chrome Dev Tools or make a trip to your local smartphone retailer for testing.
Google may add a ‘title’ to your featured snippet. Google sometimes includes a title or heading on a featured snippet box, even if it does not appear on the landing page from which it’s pulling information. This is most common when the featured snippet is providing an answer to a query that has been entered in the form of a question.
If you have any more questions about featured snippets, feel free to call us on 0800 081 1688 for more information!