How your content can rank for featured snippets using SEMrush


What is a Featured Snippet?


These are rich and enhanced visualizations of search results on Google that display quick information for users. Also known as Position 0, featured snippets are located above position 1 and below PPC results (paid).


It can look like this and I am sure you have seen it many times:




Advantages of the featured snippets


The main advantage of a featured snippet is that a URL with featured snippet can jump straight to position 0 and then rank in another position as well. So, with the featured snippet, Google will show two results in SERPs for your content as opposed to one result only. This will enhance CTR and traffic to the URL.


I wrote an article on career change ideas in 2018. Today if you search for "how to look for career change ideas", you'll get that little list of tips extracted from my article.



Most SEOs want to rank for position #1 on page 1. That's the best possible option, right?

Well, if you get a featured snippet, you can rank position 0 and one of the other positions in the page.


Here’s what Google has to say about featured snippets: “When we recognize that a query asks a question, we programmatically detect pages that answer the user’s question and display a top result as a featured snippet in the search results.”



Average CTR %


An analysis of 2 million Featured Snippets found that for the SERPs with them, 8.6% of all clicks go to the featured snippet.


If your page gets a featured snippet, it will be the first result on the first page for your keyword(s). Only paid ads (if applicable) will be featured above it.


Search Engine Land analyzed one site featured in the snippet and the results are astounding. The site had a 516 percent increase in sessions and the conversion rate skyrocketed from 2 percent to 8 percent!



Who is eligible?


99% of the featured snippets come from results on the first page. This means that to be eligible for a featured snippet, our ranking for a given keyword must be in the first 10 SERPs results.


Also, we will have better chances to get a feature snippet is we already rank on position 1, 2, 3 or 4 for a given keyword.



Types of featured snippets


There are 4 types of featured snippets:


  1. Numbered list

  2. Bulleted list

  3. Paragraph snippet

  4. Table snippet


Numbered list snippets




Bulleted list




Paragraph snippet





Table snippet




Part 2: How to analyse and find feature snippets using SEMrush


Tactic #1: find quick wins Featured Snippet Opportunities


Step 1: Open the Project dashboard on SEMrush and choose the website you want to check:





Step 2: Once in the your website project dashboard, click to “Position tracking” and the click to Featured Snippet





Step 3: Click to Opportunities


This report shows who, from your competitors, own the featured snippets for some of the keywords. These represent the “quick wins” featured snippet. They only require a small amount of work to implement.



Step 4: Filter by Est. traffic potential to understand which featured snippet would send more traffic.


It's worth spending your time optimising for featured snippets that show from 1,000 search traffic per month.


How to read the report:


Volumes: it’s the estimated number of monthly searches on google

Est. traffic potential: it’s the number of clicks we would get if we get the featured snippet for a given keyword

You: organic position for our domain

Diff: the difference in organic position between our URL and the URL that is getting the featured snippet. If the number is negative means that we rank lower in search results. A positive value means we rank higher.

It’s easier to get a featured snippet if we already rank higher in search results.


Step 5: click on the Crown icon and check what type of featured snippet opportunity we can have.




Example. If you click on the crown icon for the keyword of your choice, you can see SERPs results that show a table featured a snippet from your competitor, the URL that is owning the featured snippet.


This list of competitors is not the same as your normal SEO competitors. Featured snippets show different type of rankings.


Let's work with an example of a keyword: Level 2 gym qualification.


The University of Edinburgh ranks #6 in the SERPs and another URL ranks #1 for the keyword “level 2 gym qualification”:


https://www.futurefit.co.uk/personal-training/diplomas/level-2-gym-instructor-course/


However, Uni Edinburgh own the featured snippet at position 0 and this is their URL:


https://www.ed.ac.uk/sport-exercise/sports-centre/classes-workshops/courses/gym-instructor-level-2


In theory, because Future Fit ranks #1 and Uni Edinburgh on #6, it should be very easy for Future Fit to get the featured snippet.


Why is Uni Edinburgh getting the featured snippet even if they rank 5 positions lower?


Formatting.


Check out the Uni Edinburgh table format:




As explained earlier, tables are one of the featured snippets that appear on Google. The Uni Edinburgh is the only website on the top 10 search results that shows a table for this given keyword and hence will get the featured snippet, even if it tanks on position #6.


The result on #1, while it goes much more in-depth into the course details, doesn’t show any table. This means Google won’t have a table to show as a featured snippet.


Google likes to use tables to condense information quickly into a featured snippet, but in our page, there are no tables to answer the query.


In this case, Google decided that a table was the most appropriate structured data to show to users, as it answer the question of which courses are available for Level 2 gym qualification.


Question: what can we do to be a stronger contender for the featured snippet?


The safest bet would be to include a new section on the URL that starts above the fold and consists of a table. The table would include information on the course.


Tactic #2: find new keywords for featured snippets


We have just covered how to find featured snippet opportunities for given keywords.

Now we are going explore how to find new keywords containing featured snippets.

In SEMrush go to the Position tracking report on


Dashboard > Projects > Your project URL> Position Tracking


And then add a new keyword for which we want to find featured snippets opportunities. In the Ranking Overview, click to “Add keywords” as per the screenshot below:




We add for example “water cooler” because we want to find featured snippet opportunities for this keyword.


Then, after adding this keyword, go back to the Featured snippet report and you should see the keyword opportunity for featured snippet being added to the report:




If you have done everything right and if Google is showing featured snippets for one of our competitors, you should see the above report updating with the new opportunity.

In the above example, all the conditions were true, so the report updated from 35 to 36 opportunities.

You can then verify this opportunity directly on Google, by simply typing the keyword, which in our example was “water cooler”.



Actionable ways to win featured snippets


#1 target questions-based queries


Question keywords are great at earning featured snippets:

Examples:


  • How to

  • What is

  • How do

  • How does

  • Why do

  • Why does

  • What did


While there isn’t a scientific way to earn featured snippers, Google has demonstrated it prefers content that provides a direct answer to queries.


#2 Include summaries in list posts and how-to guides


The easier you make it for Google to understand your content the more likely it is they’ll award you with a featured snippet. For that reason, choosing the right keyword is only half the battle.

You should also include numbered and bulleted lists that summarize the key points or steps in a post that answers the question.



#3 Provide immediate and concise answers


Google is looking for a short paragraph -- around 50 words -- that give a direct answer to the search query.

It’s obvious why Wikipedia is the world leader in featured snippets. Every article includes a useful answer to the query in the first sentence of the content.


Conclusion


Landing featured snippets is a very good alternative strategy at landing position #1, which often proves really competitive.


Google designed the featured snippets to best answer a question. If you provide that answer, you'll get the featured snippet.


SEMrush provides the right reports for featured snippets. If you use SEMrush you can spot opportunities in your niche.



© 2020 by Luca Tagliaferro. All rights reserved.