Google continues to tweak the way they structure their search engine results page in ways that devalue the coveted number one position. The rapid growth of featured snippets, local packs, and voice search have all eroded the importance of the number one position.
And now the newest version of Google’s Chrome browser provides answers directly in the search/URL bar – no need to even visit the SERPs.
Given all these changes, does it still make sense to put SEO efforts toward ranking number one? In some ways, yes. The position is valuable, even if it buried behind featured snippets, answer boxes, and local packs. But in another way, it is time for SEOs to shift their focus. Reaching number one isn’t the holy grail anymore – we need a broader view that values a range of potential positions on (and off) the SERPs.
Focusing strictly on position number one leaves out a big part of the modern SERP picture. Today, SEOs need to consider the effect of the many other SERP features when crafting a strategy.
There are times when going after a featured snippet makes sense. Or when the local pack is more important than position one. Today’s SERPs are a crowded place, and a good SEO strategy needs to consider the value and feasibility of each element.
One SERP feature that continually offers value and relative feasibility is the featured snippet. Winning the snippet increases your brand exposure, boosts click-through-rates, and puts you above position number one. Additionally, as voice search continues to grow, featured snippets will become more valuable.
We’ve recently covered some local SEO tips, so today we will look at what you can do if you want to pursue ranking in Google’s featured snippets.
Winning Featured Snippets
So, how can business owners and SEOs go about winning a featured snippet? Like all SEO, there is no magic bullet. But there is a list of best practices that can get you on the right path.
Rank on Page One
Before chasing a featured snippet, your content should already be in the top ten. If it’s not there yet, you should focus on optimizing the page until you are on page one. The vast majority of featured snippets are pulled from page one – so start by getting there.
Long Tail Keywords
Featured snippets are more common on search results for long tail keywords. So put on your research hat and find some keywords that you have the resources to target. Using a tool like the Moz Keyword Explorer will allow you to narrow down suggestions to questions – a popular featured snippet target.
Google loves answering questions in featured snippets. Include both the question and a short, one-paragraph answer in your content. You can use schema markup if you want – it can’t hurt. But it is not necessary for winning a featured snipped. A clear question and answer is the most important element.
Provide In-Depth Context
You can’t just throw up a short Q&A and hope for a featured snippet. You need to prove the value of your content by providing in-depth context around the simple answer that will appear in the featured snipped.
Easy to Digest
Your featured snippet content should be easy to digest, factually based, and (if possible) presented in a list format. Google is looking for authoritative answers that are well-supported and easily presented in the featured snippet box. So, spend some time crafting your content accordingly.
Simply chasing position number one isn’t a winning SEO strategy anymore. Modern SEO needs to weigh the varying options that sit atop the SERPs and build a plan around which ones to rank for and how to accomplish those goals.
Winning featured snippets takes a combination of technical knowledge and creative content creation. But by harnessing the power of keywords tools and an understanding of search engine algorithms, winning featured snippets doesn’t have to be just a dream.