Google’s Featured Snippets: What Are They, How Do You Get Them & What Do They Mean for Your Brand?

Mark Schmukler on May 22, 2018 in Search Marketing

Search engines are the main channel for discovering information and services in the modern day. Google receives more than 3.5 billion searches in a given a day1 with the estimated number of daily searches only expected to increase as time goes on.

As anyone who has ever used a search engine may have noticed, some inquiries searched in Google return a featured snippet. For instance, if you search the inquiry, “what is a featured snippet?” Google returns this:

Figure 1: Searched 5/14/18

The block of text with a subsequent picture is a featured snippet; an answer to an inquiry that Google’s algorithm deems most relevant. It’s displayed above organic search results with the purpose of answering users’ inquiries quickly and accurately.

With featured snippets taking up sizeable real estate that catches the eye, they naturally steal traffic away from search results, as users won’t be as compelled to scroll through the other search results further down the page.

So how does your company go about appearing in featured snippets, especially if a competitor is already featured for a keyword or phrase that you want? The secret is by producing great content that’s relevant to your users, and in effect, relevant to Google’s algorithms.

How Do I Create Quality Content?

For the few of you who are unfamiliar, web content is text, visual or audio elements on a site that users find value in. Typical instances include blog posts, infographics and recorded interviews, just to name a few. Content is a great way to attract users to your site, giving them the opportunity to learn about your brand and the products or services that you offer.

Content has a few key features that should be golden rules for each piece that’s published to your site:

  • It’s relevant to users and serves a purpose
  • It covers a topic thoroughly, surrounding it from all angles
  • It’s been thoroughly edited for spelling and grammar
  • It targets a keyword or inquiry you want to rank for

The first rule of content that should always be followed is that it must be relevant to visitors on your site and serve a purpose for the user. If you write a blog about an industry topic, but needlessly carry off on tangents, or regurgitate common industry viewpoints without offering additional insight or information that users will find valuable, your brand’s credibility will decrease as a thought leader in the space.

Your content also needs to be long enough to not be flagged by Google as “thin”—a concept that correlates to word count. Writing 100 words for a blog post won’t only drive users away, but Google will devalue it because of its brevity. Additionally, your content needs to be grammatically correct and meticulously spell-checked; users won’t ever take your content or your brand seriously if every blog you write is littered with spelling and grammar errors.

Keywords are also of importance; if you want your piece of content to snag a featured snippet for “what is a parsnip”, you better make sure that your blog describes what a parsnip is. If you’re going for a snippet that answers a question, be sure to include in plain terms and in similar language to the search inquiry, an answer such as “a parsnip is a sweet, cream colored root that can be eaten.”

I Have Quality Content On My Site, Now What?

If your website features quality content, but your brand still hasn’t been granted the coveted featured snippet on Google, here are a few things you can do. First, make sure your webpage is being indexed by Google, a process that can be done in Google Search Console, and subsequently by using a reliable SEO tool to check. Your content won’t appear in the search engine page results (SERPs) if Google doesn’t know it exists.

Next, and this will be the hardest part, wait. Give your new post a few days to show up in the SERPs and see how it stacks up against the existing search ranking for the inquiry. If it’s been a fair amount of time and you’re still not seeing your piece of quality content show up, it may be time to reevaluate it. As stated above, see what the competition is doing and see what the current snippet is featuring.

Don’t blatantly copy content and don’t plagiarize. Both of those practices will render your content and your brand untrustworthy to users and Google, likely penalizing it from showing up at all.

Tweaking content also requires a lengthy round of the waiting game, so don’t change your content every few days because it isn’t performing. Rather, do research and come up with ways to make your content better and more relevant to visitors. Worst case, you end up with a piece of great content that’s most likely ranking on the first page of Google.

How Does A Featured Snippet Help My Brand’s Bottom Line?

Glad you asked. As mentioned, featured snippets and other SERP features take up a lot of prime real estate, usually positioned above the organic search results. So off the bat, your featured snippet is being seen by more potential customers and your brand is becoming more recognizable to them. Not only do these searchers see your brand, but they associate it with being a trustworthy source (this is where those golden rules of quality content come in again) and are more likely to visit your site for similar topics. More users on your site can result in more qualified leads inquiring about your products or services.

In addition, the more featured snippets your site has, the more exposure your brand is going to get for users searching for the industry queries you’re targeting. Suddenly, users will realize that your site is offering a lot of correct, insightful answers and has a boatload of quality content on the topics. That builds trust in your brand, and will build subsequent trust in your products and services. In theory, more users exploring your site increase the probability of more paying customers.

Anything Else I Should Know?

A word of warning: don’t try and dethrone featured snippets from massive sites like Wikipedia or YouTube. In almost every case, it simply won’t work; they’ll outrank your (most likely) smaller and more specific site every time due to their size and the trust that Google places in them for quality search results.

Also, don’t take this guide as gospel; Google’s algorithms decide what content becomes a featured snippet. You can write the most sparkling piece of content that’s ever existed and Google may still think that a competitor’s piece is superior. In that case, follow the tips mentioned earlier: reevaluate and enhance your content. Or, be happy with the probable high SERP spot your content is netting. You won’t regret featuring useful, quality content on your site, regardless of the outcome.

Having trouble creating quality content, getting your pages to rank or converting site visitors into paying customers? Get help from the experts.

Sources: Google Search Statistics, Internet Live Stats

Mark Schmukler
Mark Schmukler
Mark Schmukler, CEO and Co-founder of Sagefrog Marketing Group, LLC, brings more than 30 years of global marketing and consulting experience to the agency, leveraging his B2B background to lead brand strategy and business development.Based in Doylestown, PA and Princeton, NJ, Sagefrog Marketing Group is a full-service B2B marketing agency with specialties in healthcare, technology and business services. Founded by Mark Schmukler and Suzanne Morris in 2002, Sagefrog’s mission is to accelerate client success through integrated marketing including branding, digital, public relations, social media and traditional services. Visit Sagefrog.com or call 215.230.9024.