It’s coveted. It drives traffic. And you could win it.
Yes, Google’s featured snippet – also known as position zero – is something to behold, but not only from afar. Content marketers in the know aren’t winning this by chance, but deploying key tactics in order to steal it from their competitors. We’re going to tell you those tactics. These are the tips you need to win the featured snippet.
Tactic 1. Use Strategic Formatting
We can’t tell Google, “Use this text!”, but we can stick up a bunch of lit-up arrows and neon signs that do much the same thing. Or in other words, we can win it by using special formatting.
Here we’ve broken down the three common featured snippet formats – paragraph, list and table – into simple instructions.
This is by far the most common snippet, says Getstat, and one of the easiest to work naturally into your content.
Style: Write your content in a question-answer style, so that the text directly states and then immediately answers the question.
Length: The average length of a paragraph snippet is about 45 words, so keep your answer short.
Content: Examine the existing answer and see if you can provide a more clear, more direct version.
This is the second-most common snippet, and appears as a bullet-point or numbered list.
Style: Moz analysis shows that phrases containing prepositions (for, what, like, to, with, without) earned the list more commonly than other styles.
Length: Your list should contain more than four items, and each item should be no less than 10 words.
Content: More list items is better than less, as the “More items…” button (appearing when Google cuts your list off for being too long) entices users to click..
Tables are the least common, but that just means there’s less competition!
Style: The same Moz analysis says comparisons do well in the table snippet, so consider displaying interesting comparisons in a table format.
Length: Your table should contain three or more rows and two to three columns.
Content: Again, more is better than less. You can entice readers interested in your table with the “More rows” button.
Tactic 2. Create Valuable Content
Like all things to do with SEO and content marketing, winning the featured snippet is about creating valuable content, and utilising keywords and phrases to help guide Google to your work.
These are our tips for writing content to capture position zero:
Tactic 3. Write With Quality In Mind
Quality greatly affects your chances of ranking in position zero. But quality is not an arbitrary measurement of whether or not your article was “good” – there are two key metrics that tell Google, “this article is awesome.” Click-through rates (CTR) and time on page (TOP) have both been found to affect your chances. Google has decreed that if people are both clicking and staying on your content, it must inherently be of high quality. With a high TOP, WordStream founder Larry Kim discovered you don’t even need to rank on page one to get the snippet – content with extraordinarily high TOP compared to the site average could steal the snippet from page 11, even beyond!
How do I improve my CTR and TOP?
OK but seriously, there’s plenty you can do to improve these metrics. We’ve broken some of the quickest wins into a list below, separated by improving either CTR or TOP:
Winning Google’s featured snippet isn’t as hard as it looks – you don’t even have to be on page one! But it does require strategic use of formatting, a focus on value, and high CTR and TOP metrics.
But remember: Google evolves rapidly, and the rules are always changing. Keep on top of the featured snippet world to remain in the game, and never be afraid to throw out the old ways in favour of something shiny and new.