30 second summary:
- Selected snippets are retained, so it’s time for you to adjust.
- 65% of Google organic searches now contain at least one large snippet.
- Ranking for them is not as difficult as you think.
- There is a structured and repeatable process to achieve these positions.
- Ahref’s Mark Webster shows you how to analyze and create selected snippets.
The trick is to get featured snippets using a structured process. One that you can repeat over and over again. That’s exactly what we’ll show you in this blog post. Before we get into that, however, let’s give a brief overview of the excerpts featured.
What is a featured cutout?
Selected snippets are images, content summaries, answers, widgets or other data that Google displays in its SERPs in addition to the conventional web results.
From Google’s point of view, these offer their “customers” a better user experience – they get the information they need without ever having to visit a website. And an improved revenue model for them – paid ads keep Google on the light.
For website owners and bloggers, that’s a different story. Selected snippets can feel like a mammoth task. But you don’t have to feel that way.
Why are featured snippets important?
There is a simple answer to that: Google has increasingly relied on selected snippets in the past 12 months.
This is a trend that won’t change anytime soon.
If anything, Google will double that approach, pushing the line between scraping your content (without paying for it) and rewarding it with enough traffic to keep it published.
There was even a time when you could get the featured snippet and numero uno ranking for a specific keyword.
So you can effectively rank for position zero and position one. Which obviously caused a lot of traffic.
But then Google went and changed its algorithm to end “spot zero” rankings, and SEOs went back to the drawing board. The point we’re addressing is how the way your visitors interact with your website has changed dramatically.
But this also offers you an opportunity.
As you probably already know, if you get first position in Google SERPs, you will get one Click rate of at least 31.7% for a specific search query. That is why SEOs are pushing so hard to dominate this particular slot in the organic SERPs.
But what if we told you a competing snippet was getting a lot more clicks than you should be? There is hope, however.
Because around 60% of all presented snippets belong to websites that hold position one or that keyword. Basically, how do you get the featured snippet for that result, as long as you rank somewhere on page one, is just a matter of reverse engineering. And yes, we have you covered.
Analysis of the competition
As with most aspects of search engine optimization over the past few years, analyze what your competitors are doing.
So the Authority Hacker Team has analyzed over a million search results for commonalities in the “how” and “why” rich snippets.
Our criteria was that we included all types of featured snippets including YouTube, People Also Ask, knowledge cards and more. In addition, we only analyzed phrases for which at least 1,000 searches were performed per month.
We found that up to 65% of all search results contain a snippet.
Basically, if you don’t optimize for these extensive snippets, then these are your competitors.
Find featured snippet gaps
For example, let’s say you are on page one for the keyword of your choice. It usually takes a lot of links and a lot of work to open the door and position one. However, if you snap up a specific snippet, you can overtake your competitors.
Quick reminder: you have to be somewhere on page one for our tactic to work.
With that in mind, go to Ahrefs.
Click Site Explorer, paste your website url, click the search icon, then click Organic Keywords.
Now filter the results so that you only see which pages are already on the first page of the SERPs.
The final step is to look for gaps, that is, keywords that you are already ranked for but that you don’t own the featured snippet for.
To do this, click on “SERP Features” and select “Recommended Snippet” and “Apply”.
This is what the results look like:
Now you know exactly what keyword phrases to target in your next snippet conquest.
And yes, you can do all of this manually.
But that’s entirely up to you – Ahrefs is our tool of choice when it comes to this stuff.
How do you get featured snippets?
Now we come to the cool things – reverse engineering the SERPs to get those premium bio placements.
Do you remember the similarities we mentioned a while ago?
Our research also revealed that Google isn’t quite as smart as you’d like it to be.
All the talk about using AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to get search results is basically smoke and mirrors.
It all sounds compelling, but it’s basically still fluff. Instead, the process they appear to be using is far more mechanical in nature.
Our data shows that they use content structuring and semantic analysis to figure out what to display as the featured snippet. It all sounds very complicated, but it isn’t.
We found that Google follows some very basic rules when choosing which page to select a snippet from.
In fact, they seem to prefer sites that structure their data very specifically:
- “How to”, “What is” or “Best x vs. y” queries are your best goals
- You should literally enclose the original search query in an H2 or H3 tag
- You should also include a picture in your “answer”.
- You should write 50 words (no more than 300 characters) to answer the request
What you’re effectively doing here is over-optimizing the search query.
So it’s a bit like 2004.
Some will view this tactic as “keyword” stuffing, which I may find a bit hyperbolic.
I see it as a simple structuring of your data that makes Google pay attention to your page.
We only provide you with the information with which we can dominate the snippet we want.
What you do with this information is entirely up to you.
But imagine the positive effects this could have an already successful affiliate site?
Are there any disadvantages?
As with any SEO hack, there is always a chance that Google will again update its algorithm and change the selection criteria.
In a few months, you may need to adjust your approach to keep your position zero.
But the argument I want to make here is that you will be missing out on a lot of free traffic in the meantime.
Something your competitors will be happy to adopt.
For me this is an opportunity to take advantage of this.
And when things change, I see it as “Que sera sera”.
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