The Long Game: Optimizing for Featured Snippets





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June 3, 2024


UK, Manchester

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The Long Game: Optimizing for Featured Snippets

The Long Game: Optimizing for Featured Snippets

As an SEO professional, I’ve seen the landscape of search engine optimization evolve dramatically over the years. Gone are the days when simply ranking on the first page of Google was the holy grail. These days, it’s all about that coveted “position zero” – the featured snippet that sits atop the search results, beckoning users with its concise and compelling answer.

But let’s be real, optimizing for featured snippets is no easy feat. It’s a game of strategy, patience, and a deep understanding of how the Google algorithm works. That’s why I’m here to share my insights on the long game of featured snippet optimization. Strap in, folks, because this is going to be a journey.

First and foremost, let’s talk about the importance of featured snippets in today’s search landscape. According to a study by Ahrefs, featured snippets appear in a whopping 12.3% of all search queries, and over 30% of them rank in the number one position. That’s a lot of real estate that could be yours if you play your cards right.

But the benefits of featured snippets go beyond just visibility. They also have the power to drive serious traffic to your website. After all, when a user sees a concise, authoritative answer to their query right on the search results page, they’re less likely to click through to a website. That’s where the concept of “zero-click searches” comes into play.

A zero-click search occurs when a user finds their answer without needing to visit any website outside the search engine results page (SERP). According to Semrush, a staggering 57% of users on mobile and 53% on desktop don’t click on an organic or paid result. That’s a lot of potential traffic that could be heading your way if you can snag that featured snippet.

Now, you might be thinking, “But wait, if I’m the one in the featured snippet, won’t that mean I’m losing out on those clicks?” Well, it’s a valid concern, but the truth is, the benefits of being the featured snippet often outweigh the potential loss of direct traffic.

Think about it this way: when you’re the featured snippet, you’re establishing your brand as the go-to authority on that particular topic. You’re building trust and credibility with the user, which can translate into a higher click-through rate down the line. Plus, you’re still getting that valuable exposure and the opportunity to showcase your expertise.

But enough about the why, let’s talk about the how. How can you position your content to be the one that Google deems worthy of that coveted featured snippet spot?

The key is to understand the different types of featured snippets and how to optimize for them. According to the folks at Semrush, there are three main formats: paragraph, list, and table.

Paragraph snippets are the most common, and they typically provide a concise, one-to-two-sentence answer to a query. List snippets, on the other hand, are great for step-by-step instructions or itemized information. And table snippets shine when you need to present data in a structured format.

The trick is to analyze the SERPs and see what type of snippet is currently being displayed for the keywords you’re targeting. If it’s a paragraph snippet, focus on crafting a direct, authoritative answer in the first couple of sentences. If it’s a list, structure your content with clear, numbered steps. And if it’s a table, well, you know what to do.

But that’s not the only thing you need to consider. According to the team at Seer Interactive, you should also be mindful of the specific language and formatting used by the current featured snippet holder. What kind of tone and voice are they using? How long is their answer? What type of supporting information are they providing?

By taking the time to reverse-engineer the successful snippets, you can gain valuable insights into what Google is looking for and tailor your content accordingly.

And let’s not forget about the importance of visuals. According to the Semrush study I mentioned earlier, featured snippet hubs have an average of 8 images breaking up the content. That means you’ll want to make sure your images are optimized for thumbnails and that they’re relevant to the information you’re providing.

But the key to long-term featured snippet success isn’t just about chasing the algorithm. It’s about creating high-quality, user-centric content that truly answers the searcher’s query. By focusing on providing value and addressing the user’s needs, you’ll not only increase your chances of snagging that featured snippet, but you’ll also build a loyal following of readers who trust your brand as the go-to authority.

And speaking of building trust, don’t forget to leverage the power of schema markup. According to the folks at Seer Interactive, schema markup is a way to tell Google exactly what your content is trying to say. It’s a structured data format that can help the search engine better understand and categorize your information, making it more likely to be featured.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “This all sounds great, but how do I actually find the right opportunities to target?” Well, my friends, that’s where the magic of keyword research comes in.

According to the research, over 30% of featured snippets come from pages that are already ranking in the top 10 results. That means you’ll want to focus your efforts on the keywords and queries that your content is already performing well for.

Tools like Semrush and Ahrefs can be invaluable in this process, allowing you to dig deep into the search landscape and identify the featured snippet opportunities that are ripe for the taking. And don’t forget to keep an eye on those “People Also Ask” and “Related Searches” sections, as they can provide a treasure trove of content ideas.

But at the end of the day, the key to winning the featured snippet game is to never stop learning and adapting. The search landscape is constantly evolving, and what works today may not work tomorrow. That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of the latest trends and best practices, and to be willing to experiment and iterate.

And if you ever feel like you’re in over your head, don’t be afraid to reach out to the experts. At MCR SEO, we’ve got a team of seasoned professionals who live and breathe this stuff. We can help you navigate the ever-changing world of featured snippets and position your brand as the go-to authority in your industry.

So there you have it, folks. The long game of featured snippet optimization might seem daunting, but with the right strategy and a commitment to creating valuable, user-centric content, you can turn that position zero spot into your own personal slice of search engine real estate. Happy optimizing!

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