featured snippets

5 ways to rank for Featured Snippets in 2020

23% of all search results pages now include a featured snippet. That’s up a massive 165% since 2016.

What’s more, 8.6% of all clicks on searches with Featured Snippets go to the Featured Snippet, reducing the click through rate of the number 1 result by almost 25%. In fact, HubSpot research found that content with a featured snippet receives a 2x higher click-through-rate.

As we head into 2020, it’s safe to say that number 0 will reign supreme.

So why are featured snippets so popular?

Because they give answers to the questions people are asking for in a super quick, easy to read way. You don’t even have to click through to find what you’re looking for.

And these featured snippets aren’t only handy for searchers, they offer marketers the opportunity to out pip their competitors to the post, boost brand awareness and drive more traffic.

In this comprehensive guide, Report Central will explain 5 ways every business can optimise content to rank for those super valuable featured snippets in 2020.

What is a Featured Snippet?

Featured snippets, often referred to as position 0, are a short summary of an answer to a searcher’s query or question displayed at the very top of Google search results above the number 1 ranking result.

They are taken directly from a webpage and include the page’s title and URL as well as a short snippet of information.

As we’ve mentioned, they make finding out answers easier than ever – searchers don’t have to click anything to view the information.

For example, if we were to search how to write a press release, the featured snippet for this result looks like:

featured snippet

Featured snippets can take the form of:

  • Paragraphs: the most popular form of featured snippet, here, Google extracts text from a webpage to answer the searcher’s query in a paragraph of text.
  • Numbered lists: these lay out several steps explaining how to do something. These are typically instructions or recipes.
  • Bulleted lists: as the name suggests, these are lists containing bullet points. They can be anything, from ‘best of’ lists, round-ups or featured lists.
  • Tables: this is when Google actually pulls relevant information from an article and formats it into a handy table that shows the data or information in an easy, digestible table.
  • YouTube Videos: Google can also show specific video clips to answer a question.

Whatever format, they’re super powerful – being the first thing a searcher sees and taking up the most room on the search results page. This makes them far more effective at driving traffic to your site than ranking number 1.

So, how can you optimise for featured snippets? After all, you can’t just implement your usual SEO strategy and hope for the best.

Here are our 5 top tips on ranking for featured snippets in 2020:

1. Answer your audiences’ questions


Questions are 480% more likely to have a featured snippet. As featured snippets are most likely to be answers to questions, find out what questions your audience are asking and create content geared towards answering these. It’s that easy.

But, rather than taking a stab in the dark and guessing what questions your audience are asking, it’s time to use data-driven tools to inform your content strategy.

Our particular favourite here at Report Central is the Answer the Public tool.

Here, you can uncover what questions are being asked around a specific topic. By simply entering your keyword, in this instance, press release, the tool will return tons of suggestions for related questions your audience are really asking around this topic.

Next, simply choose a specific question from the list and gear your content towards addressing this. We told you it was simple.

2. Choose the right keywords


Studies confirm that most featured snippets are triggered by long-tail keywords, meaning the more words searched for, the higher probability a featured snippet will be returned.  In fact, over 85% of featured snippets are triggered by long-tail keywords that have a monthly search volume of less than 100.

And, as we’ve mentioned, these keywords are likely to be question keywords.

In fact, those that begin with ‘what’ or ‘why’ produce a featured snippet 90% of the time, and those beginning with ‘how’ have a 52% chance of producing a featured snippet.

That means it’s crucial to carefully research your long-tail question keywords to help you rank for featured snippets.

Again, there are tons of handy tools to help you uncover the best question keywords for you.  We’d recommend KWFinder: within this tool simply type in your keyword and click the questions tab to find out what your audience are asking around this topic

Once you’ve created a list of question keywords, you can integrate these into your content to improve the chances you’ll rank for them.


3. Format accordingly


SEMrush found that most featured snippets are between 40-50 words long. This indicates that your content should stick to this word limit.

And no, that doesn’t mean writing 50-word long blog posts. Instead it means formatting your content in a way that optimises for featured snippets.

To do this:

  • Use headings: a quick, easy way to format your content for featured snippets is to break it up into short and sweet concise sections using headings and subheadings. Make the heading the question your audience are asking, for example, how to write a press release, and then use the 50 words below to answer this question. Using lots of H2 and H3 tags helps Google identify your information super-fast.
  • Include FAQs: this type of content lends itself to answering those all-important questions your audience have with short but sweet answers that are perfect for appearing as a featured snippet.
  • Create lists or tables: although research suggests that paragraph snippets are the most popular, accounting for 85% of all featured snippets, list snippets are still significant, making up 10.77% of snippets, while table snippets account for 7.28%. To optimise for these types of snippets, format your content in lists, numbered or bullet points, or tables where appropriate.

4. Use high-quality images and videos


It’s 2020 – we all realise the importance of visuals. And it’s no different when it comes to featured snippets. That’s right, photos and videos can help you rank for position 0.

After all, whereas 20% of people will read text on a page, 80% will watch a video. It’s not surprising, considering our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.

So, it’s no wonder that a SEMrush study found that the more visuals you include in your content, the more likely you will rank for a featured snippet. In fact, the top performers in their study included an average of 12 images.

As Google likes to include images and videos in its featured snippets, it’s important to ensure you include eye-catching images and videos in your content.

There are tons of tools out there to help you create or source high-quality images and videos, including:

  • Canva: this is a great, free to use tool for creating high-class images, graphics and posters.
  • Pixabay or Pexels: both sites offer thousands of free to use, high-quality stock images and videos.
  • YouTube: creating video footage is super easy to do with just a smartphone these days. Uploading your video content to YouTube can help you rank for video featured snippets. Just make sure you optimise your video for search. Find out how to do this in our guide to YouTube marketing for business.

It’s worth bearing in mind that landscape images tend to perform better, meaning you should aim for landscape images with an aspect ratio of 4:3.

You will also need to optimise your image alt text which you can do by:

  • Including your keyword: this tells search engines that your image and page are relevant to certain search queries.
  • Making it informative: make sure your alt text is useful, relevant and helps Google understand what your image is straight away. This offers that all-important context to search engines.
  • Keeping it short: stick to a word count of 100 – 125 characters, after which alt text is cut off.

5. Answer related questions


A study by Ahrefs found that once a page earns a featured snippet it’s more likely to become a featured snippet for related search queries. In fact, STAT Search Analytics found that featured snippets and Google’s People Also Ask box are connected, with 23% of search engine results pages with both features have identical answers from the same source.

For you, that means creating content that answers related questions in one location.

Whether you do this in a blog post with heading and subheadings asking and answering questions, or create FAQ pages, answering related questions is a great way to earn more featured snippets.

To find related questions and queries, scroll down on the search results page to the ‘People also ask’ section.

Here, there will be a suggested list of further questions real searchers also ask in this area. For us, this looks like:

Now you’ve uncovered related questions and queries, you can create content geared towards addressing these to improve the chance of ranking for even more featured snippets.

Next Steps – ready to take top spot in 2020?


In 2020, position 0 is the new position 1. That’s right, businesses that can get their content in a featured snippet will reap the benefits of increased exposure and credibility, more traffic and higher rates of conversions. That’s a powerful combination. But, success relies on being clever with your content – putting in the time and effort to optimising for featured snippets. You can’t just click your fingers and gain top spot.

To find out how Report Central can help you outrank your competitors, get in touch today. Anyone can make a web page, but can they make it win the top spot on Google?

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