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What are featured snippets and how do I get them?

Rob Bucci, the CEO of STAT, delivered a fascinating talk at BrightonSEO last week about the mystery of featured snippets, using his observations after analysing one million queries.

Here’s a round-up of the talk, featuring Rob’s advice on why featured snippets are important and how to increase your chances of obtaining them.

What is a featured snippet?

A featured snippet is a summary of an answer to a user’s query, which is displayed on top of Google search results. It’s extracted from a webpage, and includes the page’s title and URL.

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There are three types of snippets, depending on the query:

  • Paragraph
  • List
  • Table

According to Rob Bucci and STAT, paragraph snippets are the most common, occupying 82% of the featured snippets, with list snippets appearing in 10.8% of the results and table snippets in 7.3%.

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Why are featured snippets so important?

Featured snippets offer various benefits for any site that can use them effectively.

1. Maximum authority

By obtaining a featured snippet you prove that Google chose your page over others as the most useful one to users’ relevant queries.

2. Beating the competition

When Google chooses your site to be the quick answer to a specific question, the result is displayed above the organic results, which means that you beat the competition, including a site that may rank #1 for the particular search result.

3. Increase of traffic

Users like featured snippets as they provide quick answers to their questions and this benefits the chosen site with an increase in traffic, which could be upwards of 20-30%.

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How to earn a featured snippet

During his talk Rob Bucci offered practical advice regarding featured snippets and how to get them. Here are his basic steps that can bring you closer…

1. Analyse keyword opportunities

Use the right tools to start searching for keywords to target. Find the right keyword opportunity that could be ideal for your site.

2. Create new strategic content targeted at snippets

It’s a good idea to create new content while keeping featured snippets in mind, but it’s important that it doesn’t result in unnatural content. Always take into consideration user experience and use ideas that make sense to your vertical.

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3. Bring in QA formatting

Devote a complete page to a single question, if possible, and find a way to incorporate FAQ into content.

4. Make it easier for Google with subheadings, lists, tables, etc

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Help Google discover your content with basic on-page optimisation techniques.

5. Polish existing snippets for higher CTR

If you have existing snippets, then evaluate and edit them from time to time to ensure a constant traffic back to your site.

Featured snippets in numbers

STAT analysed one million high-CPC queries for its latest study, in order to take a deep dive into featured snippets and here are the most interesting stats to consider:

  • Out of the one million queries that STAT analysed, 9.28% of them contained snippets
  • More than 70% of the featured snippets didn’t come from the very first organic result

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  • Featured snippets appear with an image 27.58% of the time.

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  • Keywords with high search volume show featured snippets twice as often.

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  • Higher query word counts result in featured snippets more often.

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  • Featured snippet URLs score slightly better on readability tests
  • Featured snippets had a 12.5% higher than average social share count (by examining Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest)

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You don’t have to come first in search to increase your authority and drive traffic to your site, provided that you start creating strategic content that may lead to well-earned featured snippets.

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