How to Rank for Snippets in 2018

A recent large scale study by SEMrush revealed that 41% of searched questions return featured snippets. If you know how to find featured snippet opportunities and potentially rank for them at “rank 0,” you could unlock some impactful inbound organic traffic opportunities for your site and your business.

In addition to questions, comparisons and prepositions also returned a substantial amount of featured snippet results.

What is a Featured Snippet?

pictures of dogs to give an example of how to rank for snippets

A featured snippet is a boxed summary of information. Google provides this to give you a high-level overview about your search query, often along with relevant photos. This snippet returns some information from a Wikipedia page in response to a query for “Yorkshire Terriers.”

Ranking as a featured snippet accomplishes a few things. It:

  • Highlights your site and presents it in the top position
  • Features you as an authority on the topic or search query
  • Gives you the most amount of real estate on the results page

Format of Content

Even though you might have the third or fourth search result, you could still rank ahead of a competitor when it comes to the featured snippet. That’s because Google’s algorithm prefers content that fits neatly into the featured snippet box. You can increase your chances by including:

  • Bullet points or numbered lists
  • Knowledge graphs
  • Photos and other images (landscape format preferred, per the large-scale study)

If you can use longer lists, Google will shorten the results and users will need to click to expand the list (and go to your website to find the rest of the information).

It’s also likely that posts with a high engagement can increase your snippability factor.

Paragraph Length

Make sure to keep your paragraphs short if you’re aiming for a featured snippet. Organize your content appropriately and try to keep your paragraphs around 50 words or less.

Answer Questions at the Top

When you create long-form content, sometimes you want to piece together all of the information you present at the conclusion of the piece. If your goal is to earn a featured snippet, you should provide a concise answer in the first paragraph, then expand upon it throughout the rest of the article. Remember – Google’s goal is to help the user, and that means getting them key information quickly when it comes to featured snippets.

How Do You Determine What Snippets You Can Earn?

The first step to earning a featured snippet is figuring out what you should go for. You can use several keyword and influencer-related tools to do this:

  • Use BuzzSumo to determine your level and topics of influence
  • Search in SEMrush to see what keywords you rank for, should strive for, and where your competitors rank
  • Knowing what you do about your customers, perform some Google searches on topics relevant to your business

Consider a long tail phrase in the form of a question, such as the example below: Long tail phrases are generally easier to rank for.

Example of a snippet

Additionally, you can look for questions on AnswerThePublic, Quora, and AskReddit. These are valuable places to connect with communities and discover what people want to learn about your industry and related topics. To earn a featured snippet, you can create content that directly answers the questions you find.

The regular old Google search box can also provide some clues. Check out what other people are searching for:

snippet example

If you’re trying to steal a spot, make sure your information is formatted the same way as the snippet you’re trying to take (if it’s a table, you should also publish a table).

If you’re short on time or have recently done a content audit, don’t forget about your old content. You can improve or repurpose it with the intention of capturing a featured snippet.

Give Them Glowing Grammar

Strong grammar is crucial when it comes to featured snippets. Research shows that you can lose a featured snippet spot because of one little typo. Make sure you run your posts by an editor and use a tool such as Grammarly to minimize this possibility.

Use Other SEO Best Practices to Earn a Featured Snippet

Lastly, make sure you stick to the usual best practices when it comes to search engine ranking. This means:

  • Use appropriate headers
  • Aim for clarity and brevity
  • Use a secure site (https)
  • Make sure your site is mobile-friendly
  • Include authoritative links
  • Write at a seventh-grade reading level

Do you have a featured snippet success story? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.

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