How to Optimize for Featured Snippets and Why It’s More Important Than Ever

Featured snippets are a strategic target of most well-rounded SEO and content marketing campaigns, but with 2017 closing in, they are only getting more important. Get a look at what Google has up their sleeve, and start optimizing your content today.
Alexis Wisniewski
Associate Editor
Lex is a writer who used to turn up her nose at SEO — with its forced keywords and its shady backlinks — until she met a team of people doing it right, and got roped in by her love of excellent content. Find her on Twitter @estherproject.
October 18, 2016

When featured snippets started showing up on SERPs in 2014, opinions were divided. Was this a great opportunity for SEO, or the beginning of the end as Google perfected the art of scraping content? Would it encourage click-throughs or destroy them?

The data is in.

  • Featured snippets produced a 114% boost in CTRs for the pages they displayed in one 2016 study.
  • A case study from 2015 demonstrated a 516% increase in sessions when a landing page secured the featured snippet box.

Two years later, featured snippets are a strategic target of most well-rounded SEO and content marketing campaigns. Moz coined the term “Ranking #0” (which I love), and has called the featured snippet box, “the closest thing to an SEO shortcut you’re likely to get in 2016.”

With 2017 closing in, featured snippets are only getting more important. Not only are they showing up in more search results every day, Google may soon start relying on this feature even more. Recent patent sketches and technology releases all continue to highlight the importance of creating content that feeds Google the answers users really want.

Google Patent Shows Expanded Featured Snippet Box

We shared Google’s latest patent a couple weeks ago, because it looks like they’re creating a data store and that’s kind of creepy. The patent also showed an expanded featured snippet box that would display three snippets at the top of a SERP instead of just one.

google patent new serp

That means, again, two things for your SEO:

    1. It will be easier to get in a featured snippet box. Three is more than one. That’s improved odds for you.
    2. It will be more important to get in a featured snippet box. That’s also improved odds for the competition, however. With three featured results, how far are users really going to scroll?

      Additionally, three featured snippets will push the first organic rankings much further down the page, and for high-traffic keywords that generate the full four paid ads at the top—organic ranking #1 could easily end up below the scroll. And dare we think about mobile screens?

The stakes may rise further if Google decides that three featured snippets makes the SERP too long, and cuts the number of organic results on Page 1. They’ve already started pulling away from “10 blue links” on every results page, and they have ads at the bottom of the page that they’re trying to sell. #justsayin

Voice Search and the IoT Are Using Spoken Attribution

The increasing functionality and popularity of voice search, and the growing number of IoT devices capable of tapping into it, raised similar concerns about attribution and scraping content that featured snippets did years ago. Until recently.

Earlier this month, Google demonstrated Google Home with Google Assistant.

Google Assistant uses the same source and information that displays in the featured snippet, and vocalizes the attribution.

featured snippet

Google Home is definitely a consumer product, but the same Google Assistant is built into Google’s new smartphones. (And Apple’s Siri defaults to it’s own Safari web browser, which, in turn, uses Google as its default search engine.) As the IoT continues to expand into new hardware and ingrain itself in our daily lives, it won’t be long before B2B applications start to emerge. When a buyer asks his or her smart assistant to define one of your core business terms or service offerings, which brand name will it cite for its answer?

Start Optimizing for Featured Snippets Now

featured snippets seo coverSnagging a featured snippet box for your brand is already a key SEO goal, and it might become even more crucial in the near future. If your SEO strategy doesn’t already include featured snippets, it’s time to get started.

And if you’re not sure where or how to get started, or why your featured snippet strategy doesn’t seem to be working, check this out: How to Use Featured Snippets to Increase SEO Traffic. One of the latest in our SEO Best Practice Series, that PDF will demonstrate what is (and what is not) a featured snippet and how to capture the coveted box for your brand.

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