The search results of the largest search engine in the world, Google, are subject to constant change. Long gone are the days when Google simply listed 10 results per page. Welcome to the age of “Vertical Search Integrations” such as Google News, Images, Maps, Videos, etc., which offer the user a wide range of information-rich options in addition to conventional search results.
Probably the most interesting change for inbound marketers is the so-called “Featured Snippet”. A result that is displayed above the organic search results and can ensure remarkable click rates not only because of its attractive position, but also because of its highlighted display.
Google defines the highlighted snippet as follows:
“This block contains a summary of the response extracted from a website, a link to the relevant page, and the title and URL of the page.”
In principle, the highlighted snippet is therefore the appropriate answer to the ever-changing behavior of search engine users. Users are looking more and more specifically not only on the basis of advancing technologies such as voice search. The more specific a question, the more compactly it is usually to be answered. So instead of directing a user to a long information page, Google provides the short answer in the search results pages. If you need or want more information, click on the snippet and land on the detailed article.
Figure 1: Search result with “Featured Snippet” for the search query “gmbh gründenkosten”
As can be seen from the figure, starting-up.de will generate more traffic than for-gruender.de with the help of the “Featured Snippet” (despite the actually poorer organic search result in second position). But is it really like that?
The general assumption: Google wants to keep users on the search results page
Since the highlighted snippets were published and integrated into the search results by Google, critical voices have repeatedly been raised that Google wants to keep the traffic on the search results page. Whether you like the search engine giant or not is an open question – the data speaks a different language.
Figure 2: Hubspot study on the click rate with and without the “Featured Snippet” result
A study by Hubspot clearly shows the importance of “featured snippets” for inbound marketers. If there is a highlighted snippet, the click rate for Hubspot is up to 2x higher than without it. It is also easy to see that for extremely specific queries (usually significantly less search volume), the click rate is higher if no snippet is displayed. That makes sense, because the very specific question will most likely already be adequately answered on the search results page. With the majority of the traffic potential, however, publishers clearly benefit from the better click rates.
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Get hold of featured snippets: Important facts in advance
Before we delve a little deeper into how potentials can be identified and highlighted snippets triggered, it is important to know some basic facts about “featured snippets”.
- Featured snippets are often also referenced as “position 0” or as “answer boxes”. This is due to the two delivery formats, one above the first search result or as a “question and answer box” in the upper area of the search results. This article deals primarily with “Position 0”.
- Those who are already in the top 10 have a better chance of getting a “Featured Snippet”. So here too, Google looks at the relevance and authority of a page, just like with conventional search results.
- Almost 90% of all “Featured Snippets” rank in the top 5 on Google for the search query that triggered the snippet. (Source: AHREFS Featured Snippet Study)
- Google already delivers “featured snippets” for more than 12% of all search queries. Ascending trend. (Source: AHREFS Featured Snippet Study)
This is how you can find “Featured Snippet” potential
In general, it is of course always possible to manually search for results with “featured snippets” that are interesting for your own website or your own business. Of course, this is not only extremely laborious, but also very time-consuming. Fortunately, there are some good tools out there these days that can do a lot of the work for us.
Figure 3: Rankings with positions 1-5 and featured snippet, arranged according to traffic potential for Unternehmer.de
The procedure is very simple. As we have already learned, it is the results 1-5 in particular that trigger “Featured Snippets”. So if we filter all available results (eg in Sistrix) according to position 1-5 and only display results that show a “Featured Snippet”, we have uncovered our primary potential.
A keyword like “opt in opt out” in position 5 will currently deliver little traffic. If you succeed in triggering a highlighted snippet, you can expect a noticeable increase in traffic.
How can “Featured Snippets” be triggered?
As is so often the case, there is no universal guide to this. But there is data and there is the magic word “reverse engineering”.
But let’s start with the data. According to the analysis “How to earn your featured snippets” by SEMRush, the length of the highlighted snippets most used by Google is between 40-50 words.
Figure 4: Number of words that are displayed in a “Featured Snippet”.
This figure also applies to the example we have chosen, “opt in opt out”. Here the highlighted snippet contains exactly 46 words.
Figure 5: “Featured Snippet” with 46 words for search query “opt in opt out”
The second step is to take a closer look at the content that triggers the highlighted snippet. It is interesting that Google uses a certain text module from the article on Digitale-offensive.de for this snippet. The following considerations can be made:
- The length should not exceed 50 words
- The text module should explain the opt-in and opt-out model and contrast them briefly.
- With the Robinson list, the result provides interesting additional information
Figure 6: Potential “summary” for Unternehmer.de (50 words)
In order to increase the chances of triggering the highlighted snippet, a summarizing text module could be added, as can be seen in Figure 6. Anyone who adheres to the previous data analysis and chooses a really well-structured and easily digestible format creates the best conditions for this.
Which formats work best?
As already indicated, there is no magic bullet. However, some formats have proven themselves and can be seen again and again in “Featured Snippets”:
- Brief explanations (see above)
- Lists (numbered or bullet points)
- Use of images & graphics
Featured Snippets: Efficient & Free
The highlighted snippets are becoming increasingly important in search engine optimization and inbound marketers and are a free and efficient way to increase organic traffic.
Although there is no universal recipe for triggering appropriate snippets, appropriate data analysis and reverse engineering can increase the chances of improved visibility in search results. Anyone who is able to combine a good content strategy with the basic knowledge imparted here can soon look forward to more organic visitors.
Even more link tips on Google
EXTRA: How to increase the click rate in the search results
EXTRA: How long does SEO take? Google reveals [+ video]
EXTRA: 5 reasons why Google won’t index your page
EXTRA: Relevant content: The ranking criterion for Google
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