Why and How to Optimize and Rank for Google Snippets


Google is not turning its back on the use of featured snippets. And if there will be reasons to, not any time sooner. As a matter of fact, the search engine is enjoying the snippets as more users are turning to it for their searches than ever. 

The increase in the number of its users can be traced to the efficiency in feeding them the right results especially since the introduction of featured snippets and similar products.

However, there have been mixed feelings about the ranking for featured snippets. Some publishers seem to fall in love with it. While some lament on how much traffic they're losing to this development.

A report has condemned my recommendation that some publishers should opt out of the snippets. The authors experimented the same and found that their websites lost 12% of their existing traffic to discontinuing Google from featuring their posts as snippets.

In support of my views, another research found that you'd been losing traffic to snippets instead of gaining more. The author reported as follows.

When there’s a featured snippet at the #1 position, it only gets ~8.6% of clicks (on average), while the page that ranks right below it will get ~19.6% of clicks (on average). In other words, it looks like the featured snippet is ONLY stealing clicks from the #1 ranking result.

However, with a recent report that Bing was also teasing the adoption of featured snippets for its results, publishers may not be left with any other choice than to understand how things work and optimize accordingly.

As for me, I'd noticed it could help certain niches to gain more traffic, and for others, it was a traffic killer.

Yes, most niches that write short-form content, direct answer posts, and all forms of quick answer articles will surfer in the hands of Google snippets. The search engine can easily handpick a paragraph of their posts and show them as snippets. Hence, no click-through.

Niches with long-form content, long-list articles, long-table and long FAQs will appreciate how much they can achieve with featured snippets. This is because these sorts of content, if featured, won't display all details in snippets. Hence, readers can click through to read the rest.

More on this shortly!

If you belong to the right niche and you want to benefit from Google snippets, you will need to learn how to optimize your existing and prospective content to rank for it. Below is a quick guide to rank for snippet opportunities.

1. Give Google Introductions to Your Answers

There is the need to let Google know that you're about to answer a specific query in your post. To achieve this, you need to include awareness words, phrases, clauses, statements or paragraphs to remind the search engine that you're about to write a sentence, paragraph, or phrases perfect to be ranked for snippets. There should be attention-grabbing words before the targeted snippet paragraph.

For instance, if you want to answer a direct question such as as, 'how long should my post be?', start the statement - preceding that answer like this...

After analyzing the data from the research conducted, the report had shown what an ideal length or number of words of a post should be as dedetiled below...

Then, follow that last word, write your answer as bulky and detailed as possible.

If you search for the helpline of a company now, it's likely coming up in snippet. For instance...

What is the FirstBank helpline? or UBA helpline.


Google has taken this snippet right on Wikipedia's line-of-words that shows what the number was "customer care". Or from the bank's contact page where they stated the word "Tel:" or "Helpline"

In other words, you have to let Google know and remind it in the posts that you're about to answer a query. Google is not human. A bot will read each word before deciding what they're meant to serve.

2. Don't Informalize Answers to Direct Questions

Generally, while writing, publishers will come across potential questions that may rank for snippets - if well answered. However, most will break the answers into conversational paragraphs. This type of answer won't rank for snippets.

Let's see an instance below.

What's featured Snippet?

That's the question. 

If you answer as follows, don't expect it to rank for a snippet.

When talking of featured snippets, we can compare that with giving a straight answer to a student's question by a teacher such that the teacher doesn't digress when explaining things.

Do you notice that, the answer above is cool for snippet definition? Yet, Google doesn't want answers like this. Google wants them former, detailed, and bricky.

Let's see a perfect answer to what a featured snippet optimized for ranking looks like.

Featured snippet is a direct and concise answer to a Google user's query which is detailed enough to provide a solution to a problem or guide to confusion as it deems fit to help the users with the keywords and intent. It's a summary, taken from the content sentences, paragraphs, phrases, or clauses as suitably as possible. Snippet equally contains the URL and title of the page/post to be clicked through if the users consider knowing further.

Compare the two. Do you see the difference?

While the first answer was trying to informalize the definition, the second answer was more former.

3. Let Your Answers Commit to Keywords and Intent

Gone were the days when our watchword was 'keyword'. As a publisher of the new era, you need to understand the difference between the intent of a searcher and the keywords they use. Google doesn't display snippets based on the keywords people enter only, it also interprets it further, 'what more he may want to learn from that very search?'.

The relevance of Google's results is more on intent than keywords. Someone who searches 'African spice' is likely to be interested in 'types of spices in Africa' rather than 'the definition of African spice'.

While writing for snippets, be mindful of "what more should this searcher know" about the topic. Let it include enough and possible information that will shoot your content up to position zero.


4. Use Headings to Win List Snippets

I love it when my 'list of', 'type of', 'steps to', or 'how to' posts rank for snippets. Of course, if I've not been lazy about it, I usually get click-throughs eventually if they rank for snippets. 

In that kind of featured snippet, Google can't show all the list in snippets, hence visitors will be forced to click through to read the rest. This will come up only if you write a long list, steps, etc. Google usually stops at number 5 or 6 and add 'more items' right below the snippet for users to read further.


In order for you to win more of this, ensure your post gives more items on the list and be sure each of your points is typed and formatted with headings. Google is able to pick the right answers through headings well formated.

5. Use Table For Listing

It's been observed that Google loves showing snippets for tabulated content more. Of course, depending on the nature of your niche and content type, it may be difficult to bring in tables into play. If you can do it, tables are automatically optimized for the snippets.

6. Write More FAQs-Type Posts

One of the quickest means to optimize your blog for snippets is to dedicate many of your posts to questions-and-answers style articles. Let your titles center on topics with several potential questions. In this case, you will be ranked for the questions and the answers on position zero.

To optimize this correctly, make sure each question is typed and formatted with headings. Then, write a direct answer below each. When there is a query around a topic, Google will know what to feature and answers to that.

Conclusion

If you'd confirmed your niche is right for snippets and consequently decide to optimize your posts for it, kindly adopt any of the above tips and see how quickly you can be right on top.

Even though some of us had been adopting these tactics when we write without snippets in mind, this post is a reminder to help you pay further attention to the little things. Failing to bring these tricks into play might even be the reason you're not ranking well (generally) and your content is still less optimized for featured snippets.

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