How To Optimize a Webpage For Featured Snippets

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Targeting featured snippets is a great way to fast-track your web page to outrank the top position. These “zero placements” are listed above the organic results 96% of the time. In fact, from April ’17 to November ’17 there has been an estimated 50% increase is featured snippets showing in search results. The one major drawback since their release is that there is only one chosen answer to be used as a snippet. Well, as of recent, this too is changing with a limited amount of two featured snippets showing up in the results pages.

Organic Featured Snippet

A featured snippet giving the answer to “How to tie a bow tie” is found above the organic listings.

How to optimize a webpage for Featured Snippets

Build authority to the page

Through testing, domain authority isn’t a necessity for a featured snippet. I’ve personally been able to gain the featured spot for websites with a domain authority under 10.  So, the up-side is that fairly new websites, or those sites who have recently become known, are still contenders in achieving these placements.

With that said, featured snippets are given to those websites who are organically ranking within the top ten positions. Now, you don’t have to focus on the number one position to get in the featured snippet. The average placement that is used to fill the zero placement is actually third to seventh place.

Since domain authority represents the likelihood of gaining top placement for a keyword, it is most likely that correlation between featured snippets and domain authority is actually the byproduct of domain authority representing top listing likelihood. Either way you slice it, if you can get top ten placement for the keyword then you have a good chance of getting featured.

Offer “the best” answer to the user’s question

This is what it’s all about. The entire goal of these snippets is to offer a quick, complete, and accurate answer to the user’s query. If you can present the answer to the user’s query in a better manner then you can take over the featured spot or be chosen to be featured when that question is complemented by a zero position featured snippet.

How do you offer the “best” answer to the user’s question? Brainstorm the answer to the question and when you’ve come up with the best answer, brainstorm on how to expand upon the main points of that answer.

Remember that quantity does not equal quantity. There is probably a correlation of word count to attaining the featured spot but this is highly likely to a quality answer given in detail. If you haven’t read this yet, take a look at “How long should my content be to get top search engine placement“.

You can also harness video and images to convey your message along with the text. There is a growing trend of video snippets that are complimented by featured snippets. So, even if you aren’t featured you might be able to have your video snippet shown on the same results.

Summarize your answer

Along with taking the answer to your user’s question to the next level, be sure that you include a summary of those details into a short paragraph that Google can use. Again, not always required but it is useful. This is especially true when dealing with featured snippets that deliver a paragraph as an answer to the user’s query.

This make is easy for Google to not only fully understand the overall topic of your article but a great article summary hands Google the information it needs to be able to formulate a snippet of your content. Even better, a well-written summarized introduction will hook your reader and pull them into reading the rest of your page. A conclusion that highlights and summarizes your article is optimal for bringing all of your points together and driving your message home.

Properly format your content relative the question

If Google offers a snippet in list format and your content isn’t written to were a logical list can be pulled, you will not get the featured spot. Likewise, if you just list out your answer with details under the list items but omit any summarized answer that in an attempt to gain a featured listing for a paragraph featured snippet, you would be wasting your time.

The best way is to just do the search and see what listing appears. If you are targeting a question that is likely to have a featured snippet then you can follow this little cheat to give yourself an upper-hand advantage when formatting your article.

What is = Paragraph “what is the tide pod challenge”
How to / To do = List “What to do after an earthquake”
Does = Paragraph “does coffee expire”
Rate / Abbreviations = Table. “abbreviations of us states”

A few important facts to note when going after featured snippets. First, the paragraph snippet is by far the most common. Currently, 60% of snippets are in paragraph form. Lists are gaining the most steam with an increase of 29% to 32% from April ’17 to November ’17. Tables are on the decline and currently represent only 8% of the featured snippets.

Follow the “People Also Ask” clues

If you want to know if a featured snippet has a high likelihood of showing up, do a search for the term and see if the “People also ask” suggestion box exists. When a featured snippet exists, there is a 64% chance of it being accompanied by a PAA feature. This is the highest percentage SERP feature to accompany snippets.

If you were to search “how to pet a skunk” you can see the PAA listed directly under the featured snippet.
People also ask for example

So, if you want to tackle a question and there isn’t a featured snippet but there is a PAA, there is a decent chance that a featured snippet might show up in the near future. When planning out content, be sure to check if there is currently a snippet or if there are signals for a snippet coming in the future and format your page appropriately.

Hopefully, with these helpful hints and tricks, you can have a better understanding of how featured snippets work and how you can optimize your content to take advantage of them. Cheers!


Matthew Post

Beginning his career as a website developer and SEO in the late 90s, Matthew Post takes a data-driven approach in SEO and CRO. In 2018, he co-founded SEM Dynamics to focus on his passion for assisting local businesses increase their reach.

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