Want to be ranked higher than number one on Google? You may be thinking this is not possible. However, you can boost your SEO with a Google Featured Snippet and rank in position zero! And yes, that is a good thing.
Let’s say your company is the national leader in toothpick sharpening. Not only do you know everything there is to know about toothpick sharpening, you have built your toothpick sharpening company from a fledgling startup and watched it grow to its IPO.
Through painstaking SEO efforts you have optimized your website so that the world will know that you are the leading experts in your esteemed industry. You’re number one, on Google and in life.
Only one day, you search for “how to sharpen toothpicks.” You’ve been bumped! The top slot of the SERP now features an answer box. It gives the step-by-step process for toothpick sharpening at home, and then--horror of horrors--a link to your competitor!
How did a competitor get this answer box snippet? How did they usurp your number one position and climb to number zero? While you were busy with general SEO, they were focusing on getting a Google Featured Snippet.
What is a Google Featured Snippet?
A Google Featured Snippet are fragments of information that appear in the answer box at the top of the search page. They developed the answer box in 2014 to display instant answers for things like measurement conversions, or the current weather.
The previous year Google had introduced the Knowledge Graph, which appears as a column on the right with a hierarchy of facts about your subject.
Google Featured Snippet came out in 2015, and like all things SEO, have been growing and learning ever since. They take things up a notch because, unlike conversion calculations or the weather, now the information is sourced from a third party.
Usually it comes from Wikipedia, Quora, and Wikihow, but trusted and popular sites like allrecipes.com appear frequently. Even small brands have a Google Featured Snippet for more niche questions. So you can bypass all other SEO efforts if Google knows that you are the trusted authority on a specific question.
How Do You Get an SEO Powered Snippet?
It is not necessary to SEO your way to number one to get a Google Featured Snippet! It seems to help, but you can get a Snippet from virtually any ranking.
Large companies with bigger SEO budgets do not seem to have an advantage over small companies. We all wish we knew what was going on inside the algorithm, but based on recent patterns, here are the primary things to focus on:
1. Think of a Question
A Google Featured Snippet appears for search queries that start with who, what, when, where, why or how. Questions starting with what and how are considerably more common. So first think of the question that you want to answer.
What is a toothpick sharpener?
How do I sharpen my toothpick?
Think of questions that are too complicated to be answered in a few words or single number. Something, for instance, that requires a series of steps or a brief explanation. Use your keywords, of course.
2. Make Your Answers Clear and Obvious
If you want your answer to fit in Google’s answer box, aim for around 45 words. About half of Featured Snippets are in paragraph form. The other half are lists, including step-by-step instructions like recipes, and tables or charts.
Make it clear to Google, through headers and keywords like you usually do in SEO, that this piece of information is your answer to the question you are targeting.
3. Focus on a FAQ Page
This should be a page of similar or related questions to your target question. Again, make them clear and obvious to Google with keywords, organization, and headers. This is your standard SEO fare, so flex your muscles. But in this case, the H1 and H2 headers are questions and the paragraphs that follow are the answers--and also potential snippets.
There’s no guarantee of getting a Google Featured Snippet, but the rewards are high enough that this should be your number one area of SEO focus. A Google Featured Snippet means that you don’t have to be number one anymore to be the first thing people see. You just have to be the trusted authority with the organized, concise answer.
Wait, Won’t This Hurt Your CTR?
If you’re giving away instant answers on the SERP, what’s the incentive to click through? Doesn’t a Google Featured Snippet mean your audience won’t visit your page? The data says otherwise. SEMRush got a Featured Snippet for one of their blogs, and traffic went up 500 percent.
But traffic isn’t the only benefit. A Google Featured Snippet means greater visibility for your brand, and it paints you immediately as a trusted source. That alone makes it worth going for.
Go Forth with a Google Featured Snippet
If this turns your Google SEO effort on its head, don’t worry. The most popular search engine in the world is always changing, and so is SEO. As we learn more about how a Google Featured Snippet behaves, it will become easier to understand what criteria Google uses to determine who gets them.
However, with this base of knowledge you can move from anywhere on the results page all the way up to number zero. So go forth and let the world know that you are the trusted source for toothpick sharpening!