Aside from standard onsite and offsite SEO activities aimed at improving organic positions of keywords in search engine ranking pages (SERP), when you optimize for featured snippets and related searches (People Also Ask), you can get your keywords a further boost in ranking, brand awareness, and overall visibility.
With this in mind, we’ve researched data from different up-to-date authoritative sources and made this action guide on how to make the most of these opportunities.
What are Featured Snippets?
Featured snippets are small excerpts of content that appear at the top of an organic Google SERP. They provide an instant resource for users and show up before the first result for a user’s query – commonly referred to as the “Position Zero.”
A featured snippet can be seen as something of a podium prize on a SERP. It is a dedicated segment of selected content that can be found at the very top of a Google SERP. It contains text and/or a video from a website that answers a search query directly. When a user clicks on the answer found in the featured snippet, they can learn more not only about their query but also about the website itself.
By putting it at the top of the SERP, featured snippets make your website much more clickable, both on mobile and desktop. Their prominence in Google searches is often a strong indicator of brand authority, which can work wonders for the way users think of your website.
How to Optimize for Featured Snippets?
If you want to optimize for featured snippets, you have to properly format your website content to increase the chances of earning them. Here are the main strategies that will enable you to earn a featured snippet:
- Decide on a feature snippet format
- Understand search intent
- Choose your search query
- Leverage the power of questions
- Find competitors’ snippets
- Update your content
- Create featured snippet hubs
Featured Snippet Formats
The four featured snippet formats are:
- list (numbered or bulleted)
Let’s focus on the first two as the most applicable for language service providers.
For paragraphs and lists, in your response to a desired search query, you should try to be as succinct as possible whilst sticking to roughly 40-50 words or 250-300 characters.
The best-performing lists should have 6-8 items.
Search intent is the main goal of a user when typing a query into a search engine. The most common types of search intent include:
- Commercial (investigating)
One of the most important considerations in optimizing for featured snippets is understanding the search intent behind each query.
Users with an informational search intent want to know more about a particular topic or have a specific question. This could be information about anything – from cooking, the weather, educating children, localization, geography – you name it.
People with a navigational search intent are looking to visit a particular website. For instance, users who search for [Day Translations] online are usually going to visit the Day Translations website. So you want to make sure that your website can be found when someone searches for your company’s name online.
Those with a transactional search intent want to purchase something at the moment of search. In most cases, they already know exactly what they want to buy and simply want to land on that service/product page straight away.
Some people have the intention to buy something in the future and do their research on the web. What transcription service would be best? Which AI content plugin is the most reliable? These users also have transactional search intent, but they just need some more time and convincing before making a purchase. This type of search behavior is referred to as a commercial investigating search intent.
Because there was only one search intent for each featured snippet, we can classify them further into four categories depending on whether a user is looking for:
- A specific answer – this type of featured snippet has a low click-through rate (CTR) and is not likely to drive plenty of traffic because users search to get a specific answer and commonly don’t want/need to read further
- A brief answer – this type of featured snippet helps improve CTR and build brand reputation because the searcher expects a short paragraph or listicle type of featured snippet, but often wants to get more information, so they click to land on the source site
- A comparison – this type of feature snippet offers a table as a result, and as the table content is commonly larger than what the featured snippets can show, it is very likely to boost the CTR.
- A video – this type of feature snippet boasts a high CTR because the searcher gets a video in response to their ‘how-to’ query.
The more words in the query (which is usually a blog post title or a subheading), the higher the chance of earning a featured snippet in the SERP. Queries that have 8-10 words are most likely to have a featured snippet.
The best way to increase the length of your query is to consider the questions your audience is asking about your products/services. For instance: How much do localization services cost in the US?
The Power of Questions
A huge portion of search queries that prompt a featured snippet starts with a question-based word, among which why, what, can, do, are, and how lead the way.
Once you have your questions based on your related queries, it’s time to start creating a content plan. You can answer several questions in one article, or have a series of articles based on the questions revolving around a specific keyword. However, make sure you keep the user search intent in mind and avoid putting all your eggs into one basket.
Find Competitors’ Snippets
When we talk about featured snippets, competitor analysis is definitely worth your time. You should find featured snippets that your competitors currently have.
In addition, while looking for competitors’ featured snippets, you can discover if Google currently brings up featured snippets for the keywords that your website is already ranking high for. After getting these valuable insights, you can start editing content for the perfect optimization.
You can do this using tools like Ahrefs, which will show you all the competitors’ search queries that have featured snippets. Remember that featured snippets might not pull information from your website if you don’t align your content properly.
The vast majority of featured snippets come from content posted within the past 2-3 years. With this in mind, you should track all the pages that are performing well — based on metrics such as engagement, impressions, unique organic visits, click-throughs, and conversions — and once you notice they’re beginning to underperform, you should properly update them.
Make sure you re-optimize and refresh your content, and also see to it that the statistics are always updated and current. Your readers should know both the original publication date and the one when it was updated. By doing this, you may score a featured snippet that will boost your metrics without actually having to develop a brand-new piece of content. Neat, don’t you think?
Featured Snippet Hubs
You can build a featured snippet hub by providing answers to several questions within a single piece of content and offering the information in as many formats as you can: lists, quick paragraphs, tables, and videos.
There are three main benefits of creating a featured snippet hub:
- Scoring multiple featured snippets
- Making your content easy to scan
- Enticing the reader’s interests with easily digestible pieces of information (instead of ‘walls’ of text).
A featured snippet hub typically has 1,100+ words and you can read it in about 5-7 minutes.
What is a People Also Ask Box?
The People Also Ask box (also known as related searches, others want to know…) is a type of direct answer that broadens the original search query. It is a universal Google SERP feature that displays questions with answers that are closely linked to the search intent.
Google pulls the answers that are provided from trustworthy sources, such as websites, datasets, persons, events, reviews, etc.
When a user clicks on a question associated with the initial query, new similar questions are momentarily shown below, and all of these center upon the same topic. When a searcher opens another question in the box, a new set of follow-up questions appears.
How to Optimize for People Also Ask?
If you want to optimize for the People Also Ask (PAA) box, these are the key steps:
- Discover People Also Ask opportunities in SERP
- Properly optimize content
- Include Q&A in your content
- Pay attention to your headlines
- Start simple before going into details
- Create logical and easy-to-follow how-to guides
Discover People Also Ask Opportunities in SERP
First things first, it is crucial to know if your target keywords have the potential for People Also Ask optimization. What you need to do is carefully examine the keywords that trigger PAA questions for which your website is not currently listed and then evaluate the chances to improve your positioning.
What questions can you answer for your potential customers that your competitors haven’t already answered? Are there questions in the PAA box that appear like perfect fits for your website and/or brand?
Properly Optimize Content
When it comes to optimizing your page content, start by checking if the answer to the question is already available on that page. Your answer should be detailed enough but also easy to understand to increase the possibility of your site ranking for it in PAA.
In case your page doesn’t provide the answers, make sure you add the necessary info, offering concise answers to the questions and utilizing strategies that boost the user experience (UX). Google expects a certain format, so you should learn about it and adjust the formatting accordingly. As unpolished code can easily confuse Google, you should use clear headings (H2, H3, H4,…), and remove any errors that could cause confusion. Bearing in mind that quality and relevance are all important when you want to rank in PAA boxes, your focus should be on creating properly structured and optimized content.
Include Q&A in Your Content
Create/update blog posts or dedicated FAQ pages that contain the questions followed by the answers that are relevant and to the point, like those a user would expect to find in a PAA box.
You also want to make sure that:
- the answers to the questions are clear and concise, written in everyday language that’s easy for any person to comprehend;
- the answers are factual and 100 percent on-topic;
- the language or phrasing that you use is not promotional or salesy.
Pay Attention to Your Headlines
Before you send signals to Google to choose your content as the best, most accurate answer to a popular PAA question, you have to ensure that the answer is easy for Google’s crawl bots to understand.
This is done the same way you’d do it for a human searcher – by crafting descriptive headlines that include strategically selected keywords.
You also want to make sure that the rest of that piece of content is just as easy to follow and understand by making use of equally descriptive headings and subheadings to break your content up and properly organize it. Google simply loves content formatted in this manner because it’s user-friendly.
Start Simple before Going into Details
When you develop content with the aim of ranking for People Also Ask, you want to arrange it in a way that will make it a front-runner for the PAA box. You should start with a nice and simple introduction to your topic, a single paragraph containing only a couple of sentences that quickly present the essential information that the entire piece of content will be covering.
In the following paragraphs, you should go into details in a way that really helps a person who is looking for information about that topic.
For instance, if you’re crafting potential authority content that answers the question “Is website localization expensive in the US?”, your intro should concisely tell a searcher how much they could expect to spend if they decide to localize their website in the US. After that, you should develop the rest of your content by addressing additional concerns a person asking that question might potentially have.
Create Logical and Easy-to-Follow How-To Guides
How-to guides are a smart and effective content option for SEO-minded marketers aiming to rank for literally any portion of a SERP. These guides help people make purchasing decisions, learn how to get more out of the acquisitions they’ve already made, and find additional topics speaking about their interests. Since “how-to” questions and answers frequently appear in searches, they’re also a great tool for potentially ranking for People Also Ask.
Exceptional how-to content offers short, straightforward steps that are easy to visualize and follow. Organizing these steps into numbered lists also helps, as Google tends to prioritize this format.
What’s best about featured snippets and People Also Ask optimization is that, provided that you skillfully craft and organize your content, you can simultaneously try to rank for both. In other words, content that triggers a featured snippet for a specific search query can easily trigger a People Also Ask result for a similar search query.
Let’s take this search query as an example: What are the main types of localization services?
As you can see in the image below, the search query triggered a feature snippet in a table format.
It also triggered these People Also Ask questions:
By covering several slightly modified questions and answers in your content, you can become a shoo-in for both several featured snippets and People Also Ask entries, because both these SERP features essentially share the same logic.
Putting Things into Practice
You have probably noticed that certain parts of the text in this guide are in italics, and you might wonder why? You guessed it right: These seven parts in italics of the text demonstrate how to create a genuine content hub, enabling you to be in the running for multiple featured snippets and People Also Ask entries with a single piece of content. Quite nice, don’t you think?