Optimizing Content for Featured Snippets

Optimizing Blog Posts for Featured Snippets

SEO is not just a race to the number one spot anymore. Nowadays, you have to be quick on your feet to try strategies like Featured Snippet Optimization. Featured Snippets (also known as Rank Zero) are taking over. According to a study by Ahrefs in 2017, keywords with Featured Snippets are taking 8.6% of all clicks while 19.6% percent goes to the organic search result that is ranking at number 1. This can help you drive a load of traffic to your site without churning out new content or backlinks.

Let’s face it, it’s getting harder to rank these days especially for those who don’t know what they would like to achieve with their SEO. That is why after the basic nitty-gritty of optimizing your site to rank on Google’s SERP, looking at Featured Snippets as a means to gain an edge and competitive advantage for traffic is something that you definitely have to consider.


What are Featured Snippets?

Featured Snippets are types of Google search results that show a summary of a webpage directly answering a query. It appears at the top of the search results page. To help you get started on what types of content rank for a featured snippet, we came up with this guide. Check it out:


What are the Types of Featured Snippets?

  • Paragraph Snippets
  • Numbered list snippets
  • Bulleted list snippets
  • Table Snippets
  • YouTube Featured Snippets


Let’s talk statistics. In 2017, a study shows that 30% of search results in Google have Featured Snippets. According to Stone Temple, about 97% of those featured snippets answer user query correctly and accurately. If you rank #1 for a keyword and you earn a spot in a featured snippet, there is a great chance that you get 28% of click-through rate compared to the 26% of pages who do not have a featured snippet based on a study by Ahrefs.

This affirms the role of featured snippets in targeting high search rankings because it does a great job in addressing user intent. Featured snippets are more than just displayed information in the SERP, as it also properly identifies user queries related to your business.

Targeting featured snippets doesn’t mean you have to be the top search result. According to a study by Ahrefs, Only 30.9% of featured snippets in 2017 rank at number 1.

where featured snippets tend to rank

Featured snippets are also important for Voice Search Optimization. Moz confirms that voice search borrows answers from more than 85% of Paragraph snippets come up as results in voice answers. This is information that would be even more useful in the near future since Google predicts that more than half of the search queries will result in voice search by the year 2020.

There is no doubt that ranking for keywords with featured snippets should be part of any SEO strategy. While some SEOs frown upon snippets for stealing clicks because it already answers some of the user queries, it should never be missed out. Take it from us, because we were able to rank our content for keywords with snippets and here’s how we did it.


Research Keywords with Featured Snippets

Whether you are writing new content or optimizing old content, you can use Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer or Organic Keywords report to look for keywords that have featured snippets.

For our example, we optimized a previously written article. Using Ahrefs, we checked the keywords it is currently ranking for. Under Organic Keywords, click SERP Features and select Featured Snippets.

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer 2

Now that it lists the keywords with featured snippets, select a keyword that you want to optimize for. For this one, we chose “unique debut theme ideas” since it has low difficulty with reasonable volume and the article we wrote is already ranking for it.

Unique Debut Theme Ideas

Scout Results

It is important that you look at what the search results look like. It will give you an idea of how you should optimize your content. You need to have this question in mind: What type of content does Google rank for that keyword? You don’t have to exactly replicate the top result but at least you have an idea on the quality of the content that Google ranks for that keyword. Also, avoid being penalized by duplicating content from these related articles.

Before we optimize the article, we took a peek at the current featured snippet ranking for the keyword we are targeting.

Unique Debut Theme Ideas SERP

Increase Word Count and Overall Quality

At that time, our competitor was showing 15 Debut Theme Ideas, our article had 7 debut theme ideas and the article was about 700 words and we increased the word count of our article to 1,300 words. There is no recommended word count for this but we wanted to make sure that our content is of reasonable depth and its quality is high enough to garner a reader’s attention. Additionally, we also inserted new images for each subheading.


Snippet Bait

A snippet bait is placed at the beginning of an article. It makes it easier for Google to pull up a summary from your article to show to users.

For Numbered and Bulleted Lists Snippets, Snippet Baits would look like this:

Knowledge Graph

Featured snippets usually answer questions. Using an H2 subheading, we placed a question with the keyword we are trying to optimize for. We also listed the 15 other subheadings which are like a summary of the article. This is not a requirement per se for results with featured snippets but it is a “bait” to make it easier for Google to pull up the result from our blog post.


Proper Subheadings

Having proper subheadings is essential for featured snippets and it is connected to snippet baits. Although it is not a requirement, it helps Google easily pick up the important points in your article for featured snippets.


For Paragraph Snippets

Paragraph snippets usually answer queries that involve defining a term or answering questions. To optimize content for paragraph snippets, use H2 headers.

Paragraph Snippet

For Numbered and Bulleted Lists Snippets

Google pulls up all the H2 subheadings for this type of snippet. Make sure that each subheading is in H2. Numbering them or adding bullets is also recommended.

 Numbered List Snippet

For Table Snippets

According to the Search Engine Journal, table snippets are one of the most popular types because it makes up 29% of all the snippets. Table snippets are easily seen as helpful since it displays a sortable list that can help you compare between brands. Queries that are data-centric is also organized accordingly for this type.

Table Snippet


Gathering links for your optimized article is also important. Links, as we all know, is one of the top ranking factors. Google only shows featured snippets if it trusts the source and links is one way of showing Google that you can be trusted.


Result: Drastic Increase in Traffic

Drastic Increase in Traffic

Our optimization efforts for this article started around January. Once it got the top position, its traffic doubled than its previous one. All of this is thanks to Featured Snippet Optimization. Directly answering user query is the main point of doing this and this is what you should aim for in doing SEO. In a kingdom where content is King, you should also remember that he values what his subjects have to say; the same way that user intent validates content.


Key Takeaway

Featured Snippet Optimization is one of the key aspects you have to look into if you want to drive more traffic to your site. As it targets voice search, user intent, and high-quality content, you would notice that it will also drive value from the visitors of your site. These direct answer results will benefit you in the long run so this is the time to stop neglecting it.

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Sean Si

About Sean

is a Filipino motivational speaker and a Leadership Speaker in the Philippines. He is the head honcho and editor-in-chief of SEO Hacker. He does SEO Services for companies in the Philippines and Abroad. Connect with him at Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Check out his new project, Aquascape Philippines.