Appearing above the regular organic search results and other Universal Search elements, Featured Snippets are a great way of generating additional traffic for your website. With the right keyword targeting and the know-how to carry out the required technical optimization, you stand a great chance of occupying this highly visible piece of online real estate. In this post, we look at what makes the perfect Featured Snippet and we present data, facts and infographics for Featured Snippets in five industries. Who is on top in the battle for position zero?
What is a Featured Snippet?
Featured Snippets appear above the normal organic search results as a kind of Direct Answer. Unlike Google’s own info-boxes, which often answer questions like “How old is LeBron James?” or “When is Thanksgiving this year?”, Featured Snippets are enhanced versions of normal organic results, and include a link through to the website. Featured Snippets normally appear as paragraphs, lists or tables – often with an accompanying image.
You can’t create a Featured Snippet the way you would create a social post – Google’s crawler checks your page programmatically to see if contains a possible answer to a question – this result is then displayed as a Featured Snippet. Of course, you can take steps towards getting a Featured Snippet, but it’s more than just simply making sure you answer users’ questions. If hundreds of sites are doing that, you need to know exactly what Google is looking for when it is crawling and evaluating pages for the best answer, as Björn Beth, Director of the Searchmetrics Digital Strategies Group, explains in this video:
Featured Snippets in your Industry
As well as knowing how to optimize your content for Featured Snippets, it is vital that you understand the importance of Featured Snippets in your industry. As demonstrated in our recent Universal Search whitepapers, the different kinds of result displayed vary considerably across different industries. When looking at Featured Snippets, it makes sense to ask yourself the following questions:
- What role do Featured Snippets play in my industry?
- What kinds of searches does Google display a Featured Snippet for?
- How much traffic could I gain from Featured Snippets?
- Am I lagging behind my competitors?
To answer these questions, we’ve analyzed some KPIs surrounding Featured Snippets in five industries: eCommerce, finance, health, media and travel. Here are a few of the most interesting findings.
- Featured Snippets show up most frequently in the health and finance industries. 18% of health and 27% of finance keywords return a Featured Snippet.
- The rate of Featured Snippets is much lower for eCommerce, travel and media keywords; in these industries, position zero is occupied for less than 3% of searches.
- Wikipedia is the Featured Snippet king in all industries, except travel, where it does not even make the top 5.
- Featured Snippets for media keywords bring their websites the most clicks: On average, a media Featured Snippet has a monthly Traffic Index of nearly 27,000.
- In eCommerce, Featured Snippets are less common, with the top of the SERP instead usually containing other Universal Search elements like Google Shopping results. However, some websites gain valuable additional traffic by optimizing for keywords like “best wireless headphones” or “cheap tablets”.
- If you set up an AdWords campaign for finance keywords that return a Featured Snippet, then the average Cost-per-Click would be $5.17. This is a higher CPC than in the other industries analyzed and shows there’s much greater potential to save costs by pursuing a Featured Snippets spot.
What does an optimized Featured Snippet look like?
For normal organic search results, Google displays a meta description. When optimizing this, the aim is to grab the user’s attention and make them click on the link. Of course, the meta description should still match the content on the page and not act as dubious clickbait. Otherwise, the user will quickly bounce off your page and your user signals will likely suffer.
The approach to Featured Snippets is similar. However, with the enhanced preview there is an increased risk of the user getting all the information they need from the snippet. If this happens, then it is highly likely that the website will miss out on valuable traffic. For this reason, you should always monitor the Click-Through Rates of your Featured Snippets. If they are lower than you expect, then you may want to change something. To demonstrate this, we can compare the position zero results for two search queries, “what to do if you get a snake bite” and “how do I treat a snake bite at home”:
The answer provided for “what to do if you get a snake bite” is a clear, short paragraph telling you what to do. If the user is in a hurry, they will probably leave the computer straight away and go to their medicine cabinet. With this Featured Snippet, the website enjoys a certain expert status, but the traffic generated will probably be modest.
If you search for “how to treat a snake bite at home”, you see the first four points in a list. The phrase “More items…” encourages the user to click to find the hidden information. Tables work in a similar way, with “X more rows”, as in this result for the search, “What animal will eat a mongoose?”
The perfect Featured Snippet will answer the question posed, but also make it clear that the page contains further relevant content, which the user can see by clicking through to the page.
I want to optimize! Where do I start?
Online marketers are increasingly recognizing the advantages of optimizing for Featured Snippets. For many, however, it still isn’t clear where to start. Whilst this analysis should offer some inspiration, the Searchmetrics Suite provides complete transparency into all aspects of Featured Snippets. You can see all up-to-date rankings, find out how you shape up against your competitors and discover new opportunities for conquering that all-important position zero.
If you’d like to learn more about optimizing for Featured Snippets, you can take part in our webinar, Winning “Position 0”, with Izzi Smith and Malte Landwehr. It’s on August 21st and you can sign up for free today.