Web users old enough to remember what Google search results were like way back in 1998 know full well how much the world’s number one search engine has evolved over the years. As web user preferences have changed, Google has changed in order to serve up the data they want. One of the more recent adaptations from the collective Google brain is something known as featured snippets.
Featured snippets can be SEO’s best friend when combined with other white hat SEO practices. The interesting thing about featured snippets is that website owners cannot directly create them. They cannot even opt in. More on that in a minute. But first, it is important to define just what we are talking about.
What Featured Snippets Are
Google deefines featured snippets as “special boxes where the format of regular listings is reversed, showing the descriptive snippet first.” Perhaps that definition doesn’t do much for you. We will try to explain in another way.
Have you ever run a Google search and noticed the first listing at the top of page is a block of text with the desired link underneath? Sometimes the data is presented as a table or list. At any rate, this special block is a featured snippet. It is essentially an expanded search engine result presented in reverse order.
Note that featured snippets appear at the top of SERPs. That extra block of information that might appear on the right side of the page is not a featured snippet. It is known as a knowledge graph. Likewise, a block of text that appears underneath a listing is also not a featured snippet. Rather, it is a rich snippet.
To reiterate, a featured snippet is a unique block of text that appears above organic search results. The snippet’s information appears first, followed by the link to which it pertains. Its purpose is to provide users with bite-size chunks of information that Google thinks they can use.
Different Types of Featured Snippets
Just as there are different types of snippets found on Google SERPs, there are different kinds of snippets. There is no concrete format that web designers must follow, but featured snippets generally fall into the following three categories:
- Paragraph – A paragraph snippet is the most common of the three. Paragraph snippets make up about 82% of the total featured snippets Google displays.
- List – Featured snippets can be formatted as bulleted or numbered lists. About 11% of the total featured snippets found on Google are list snippets.
- Table – The least common featured snippet is a table snippet. It is presented in table format, just like you might see in a spreadsheet. Just over 7% of all featured snippets are table snippets.
You might be interested to know that Google algorithms automatically determine what pages deserve feature snippet status. As previously mentioned, you cannot opt in to this process. You can opt out by inserting one of two special tags:
- nosnippet – This tag blocks the entire page from being utilized by Google for a featured snippet.
- data-nosnippet – This tag only blocks the tagged data. Other data on the page could still be used for feature or rich snippets.
Google says that if both tags appear on the same page, the nosnippet tag takes precedent. No data from that page will be used for either featured or rich snippets. This is important to know if you are creating pages specifically with rich snippets that you don’t want to see end up as featured snippets.
Again, Google algorithms automatically determine those pages that would make for good featured snippets. You can increase the chances of a page being chosen by carefully crafting text to make it succinct, accurate, and appropriate to popular keywords associated with that topic.
The Impact on Search Engine Results
We teased you with a headline that said featured snippets can be SEO’s best friend. Now we need to explain why. It starts with the understanding that beginning in January 2020, Google changed its algorithms so that the same page could not be used as a rich snippet and show up in organic search engine results below the snippet.
Prior to that change, both could occur. That gave savvy SEO developers with the Golden touch opportunities to double dip, so to speak. Getting both the first position in organic results and a featured snippet would greatly increase the chances of generating more traffic.
This is no longer possible. Still, there are particularly good reasons for wanting a page to be used as a featured snippet. In terms of SEO benefits, it boils down to position. Historical data demonstrates that the higher a page ranks on organic search results, the more likely it is to generate traffic. That’s why SEO experts are always competing for that coveted number one slot.
By the same token, the featured snippet is listed directly above organic results. Therefore, most users are going to see the featured snippet before anything else. That immediate visibility is exactly what SEO is designed to accomplish. You want the most prominent position in order to derive the largest benefit.
Another benefit of achieving featured snippet status is a better understanding of how Google algorithms have analyzed your content. You might have been focusing on one particular keyword only to discover that the featured snippet seems to be based on another keyword. Combine that knowledge with keyword research and you have greater insight into what Google’s algorithms are doing.
How Featured Snippets Help Businesses
Featured snippets have an obvious impact on SEO by taking the top spot on SERPs. But there is more. They can directly impact businesses as well. That impact can be described in one word: visibility.
By their nature, featured snippets are larger than the individual entries found in organic results. They are larger because they are dealing with entire paragraphs of text, numbered or bulleted lists, or tables. Just their sheer size alone demands that users look at them. If the information they contain is important and relevant, the impact can be huge.
The right information can lead users to click on the link immediately, thus bypassing organic results altogether. Likewise, that information can establish a website’s authority on a given topic. Finally, the right information can further enhance a company’s brand awareness.
You should know that clicking on a featured snippet does not redirect the user’s browser to the top of the page on which the information is found. Rather, the user’s browser goes right to the exact spot on the page where the featured snippet information is found. As such, achieving featured snippet status allows you to direct visitor attention to a specific location on your site. Talk about targeting an audience; that’s the way to do it.
Let’s Improve Your SEO
Featured snippets are just one of the many tools we utilize to improve SEO for each of our clients. Please know that featured snippets are as much an art form as a science. We know how they work. We know how to craft content that is attractive to Google algorithms. Ultimately however, those algorithms have the final say.
If you would like to learn more about how featured snippets can improve your SEO, reach out to our knowledgeable and friendly staff. Let us work together to improve your SEO and your business.