Featured Snippets Top the SERP: Here’s How to Get One
Featured snippets are a coveted spot on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). They provide an answer to a search query directly at the top of the SERP. In fact, the featured snippet is the first organic search position 99% of the time (SEMrush). If the user wants to learn more, they can click on the answer and get directed to the website that Google pulled the information from.
Because of their ability to drive traffic to your website, securing a featured snippet can be a big win for your website. On mobile, featured snippets typically take up 50% or more of the screen, making them prime real estate on the SERP (SEMrush). Ready to up your SEO game? Follow these tips to rank for a featured snippet.
Types of Featured Snippets
Featured snippets come in four different types — paragraphs, lists, videos, or tables. The most common is the paragraph, with around 70% of the results. Lists and tables are a good way to provide quick-hit information that users can easily scan right on the SERP. Videos typically account for less than 10% of featured snippet results (SEMrush).
Which Sites Are Most Likely to Earn a Featured Snippet?
Wondering if your website can easily win a featured snippet? You have a higher chance of earning a featured snippet if you already rank within the top ten results (i.e. the first page of the SERP) for the given query.
Getting onto the first page can feel like a lofty goal, but it might be closer within reach than you think, especially if your website currently ranks on the second page. Check out this guide for some ways to move up!
Tips for Winning a Featured Snippet
Ranking for a featured snippet involves careful strategy, even if you’re already within striking distance. It encompasses everything from the way you format your content to which keywords you target.
Use Long-Tail Keywords
You won’t have much luck targeting one or two-word queries. Instead, aim for queries with at least five words for a higher chance of winning a featured snippet. According to a SEMrush study:
- Only 4.3% of one-word keywords had a featured snippet.
- 17% of five-word keywords had a featured snippet.
- 55.5% of 10-word keywords had a featured snippet.
If you find it difficult to target such long keywords, keep in mind that many users type entire questions into Google and speak in full sentences when using voice search. Think about what questions your target audience might have about your tours and activities or the area where you operate.
Pro tip: The top queries that result in featured snippets begin with question words like “why,” “can,” “how,” “what,” “where,” etc.
Once you have a few questions in mind, think about what kind of content you can create to answer those questions. For instance, if you want to rank for the query “what equipment do I need for sea kayaking in Alaska,” this could be a great opportunity to create content on an FAQ page or even write an entire blog post dedicated to the topic. As with most things SEO, conducting keyword research is the best place to start.
Format Your Content For Success
Writing with a featured snippet in mind can help you determine the best format. Would the query be best answered with a paragraph or a bulleted list? For example, if someone is searching for “reasons to use a frameless backpack” ahead of a camping trip, they would expect to see a list of reasons. And that’s exactly what they’d get.
If you click through to the article from The Hiking Life in this example, you can see that each point on the list gets a longer explanation in the full article, but the featured snippet gets users to click to that page in the first place.
Pro tip: When it comes to paragraphs, be as succinct as possible while answering the question in the first paragraph of your content. The ideal length for winning a featured snippet is 40-50 words. This gives users a quick answer, and they can expect to see more detailed information in the rest of your content.
Pay Attention to What Competitors Are Doing
Featured snippets tend to move around from time to time, meaning you can rank for one and displace the previous “owner” of that featured snippet. If you’re trying to earn a particular featured snippet, take a look at the content that currently ranks to see what you can do better. Look at things like the format (paragraph, list, table), length, how they answer the query, and what keywords they use. Use this information to reframe your content and produce a better answer in the hopes of securing the top spot.
More Ways to Rank for a Featured Snippet
Follow these bonus tips for a better chance to win this desired spot in the SERP.
- Date your content. Even if you’re writing about something evergreen, dated content shows up more often in featured snippets. Not only does dated content build trust, but it also reduces confusion for readers. If you do decide to date your content, be sure to update it regularly, at least once a year.
- Add images and other visuals to break up blocks of text.
- Use long-form content (1,000+ words).
- Use structured data where possible.
- Use the Google search feature “People also ask” for inspiration on queries to target.
A Note on How Featured Snippets Appear on the SERP
In 2020, Google changed the way it displays featured snippets. In the past, if your website had a featured snippet and ranked within the first 10 results, the SERP showed your site two places. For example, if you ranked fourth for a specific query, the SERP showed the featured snippet at the top and the regular result in the fourth position on the page.
Now, if you rank for a featured snippet, your website will not be featured in the regular search results, even if you rank within the top 10 results for that query. So if you want to secure a featured snippet, keep in mind that users could get the full answer to their query from your snippet and not click through to your website, losing you traffic. On the other hand, if the user likes the information provided, they might want to check out your website, driving additional traffic.
Featured snippets make your content more visible on the SERP and entice users to visit your website. If you’re planning to target a featured snippet, remember that you likely won’t see results overnight. It’s essential to continue optimizing your content and studying what’s currently ranking well to see where you can improve. Give your content a better chance of ranking with the tips and tricks in our content marketing guides.