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Google Featured Snippets: SEO Best Practices for Inbound Marketing

When it comes to creating inbound marketing content what are some SEO best practices?

Of course we know to include the keywords in our page copy but what are some of the things you otherwise may not think about?

Did you know there is a specific way to write landing pages to display as featured snippets?

By focusing on featured snippets you take the stress off copywriters to constantly come up with new topics and the “guesswork” out of inbound marketing. 

Rather than brainstorming what you think people may be searching for or hoping that your article will trigger a featured snippet – take a few moments to learn how to write featured snippets using the free information Google provides. 

This article has been compiled by reviewing large scale featured snippet studies conducted by MOZ, SEMrush and Ahref. 

You will learn 

  1. Compile a list of keywords in your niche 
  2. Google variations of these keywords using the questions and propositions we know trigger featured snippets. 
  3. Create new content written for the format Google uses to display the snippet.

What Questions Trigger Featured Snippets?

Having reviewed the raw data from a large scale study conducted by SEMrush and Ghergich & Co., that included 6.9 million featured snippets and 80 million keywords, we were able to find the questions known to trigger featured snippet lists:

  • How
  • Which
  • Where
  • Have
  • Who
  • When
  • Do
  • Can

Analyse the Featured Snippet Format

Once you have found a search query that triggers a featured snippet, take a screenshot and review the page for additional data. Questions to Consider when Analyzing the Page:

  • What format is the featured snippet displayed as?
  • What is the page title?
  • What are the keyword variations throughout the text?
  • What is the word count?
  • How many Htags?
  • How many images?
  • What do the backlink profiles look like?

Here is an Image of a Featured Snippet Snapshot: 

featured snippet list example

Position 0: Click Through Rates

Ahrefs studied 2 million featured snippets in 2017 and found that without a featured snippet, the first result gets on average 26% click-through rate. 

When a featured snippet is present, it only gets a 19.6 % click-through rate.

Position 0, featured snippets should attract a lot of clicks, right?

Not exactly – the featured snippet only gets an 8.6% click-through rate!

 Here is the chart from Ahrefs:

average CTR of featured snippets image by Ahrefs

So how do we increase the click through rate of our hard earned featured snippets?

  • Make Your List Longer Than The Eight-Item Maximum

When creating a list, it’s a good idea to make it longer than the eight-item maximum (when possible) because this prompts Google to display the “More Items…” text enticing users to click through to your webpage.

  • Truncate Your List

The average words per list item is 8. However, if you write each bulleted item so that is has more words, Google will truncate it so users will have to click through to read the entire snippet. This is a great method if your list is shorter than 8-items.

Another method of increasing click through rate for featured snippets is to include a link within your list.

Here is an Image from SEMrush:

how to optimize featured snippet list image by SEMrush

Anatomy of a Featured Snippet:

  • Adopt HTTPS
  • High Mobile Friendly and UX Score
  • Word Count: Minimum 1k words, will vary per search query
  • Make it Scannable: Paragraphs are 40-60 words each
  • Use Multiple Lists: 7-10 ordered or unordered lists
  • Clearly Identify Sub Headers: 10+ h1–h6 tags
  • Use Multiple Landscape Images: 10+ images with appropriate alt tags
  • Cite Facts: cite external fact citations from reliable sources
  • Encourage Social Engagement

Read additional tips on integrating SEO into your Inbound Marketing articles.