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How we made it to Google featured snippets

Two of our blog posts recently made it to Google featured snippets. The funny part is we didn’t write them with such intentions. Of course, it’s superb when the content we produce is in the snippets. Anyhow, it was a surprise so we immediately started inspecting what’s hiding behind the curtain. We’ve discovered a lot of useful information and thought you might find it interesting.

What are the featured snippets?

The featured snippet is a piece of information displayed at the top of search results. It’s a block of text with a summary of the answer taken from a website. It includes a title and URL of the website. Google programmatically selects the website by detecting whether it contains possibly the best answer to a question.

featured snippet general

That being said, featured snippets are answers to informational search queries.

Some say featured snippets steal clicks. It kind of makes sense. The point is to provide enough information. In our case, they boosted CTR significantly.

Case study

Let’s take a look at two our blog posts, which made it to Google featured snippets.

Blog post #1

The Top keywords of 2016 was featured in a table snippet on a search query “top keywords 2016”.

featured snippets top keywords

Besides carefully structuring the data and choosing keywords, we have one more advantage. The content is unique and perfectly timed. We gathered one-year data from KWFinder’s database and published the lists in the first half of January.

What was the impact on organic traffic?

We immediately spotted increased organic traffic from Google. To be honest, this post is our best-performing in terms of organic traffic so far (not taking KWFinder guide into account). When you look at the Google Analytics report below, you can see the organic traffic of the post is twice as much than others. So yes, featured snippets definitely boosted our traffic and CTR.

featured snippets organic traffic ctr

Is it possible to get there with low authority domains?

Absolutely! Let’s analyze the SERP of “top keywords 2016”. The snippet represents #1 position, otherwise, we rank on #3 for this keyword. Take a look at the report below. We managed to outrank authorities such as Search Engine Watch or WordStream while reaching slightly above 10 Domain Authority and having 0 backlinks and almost no social shares!

featured snippets rankings serp analysis

Blog post #2

We got lucky again when Google determined our blog post about keyword difficulty represents an ideal answer to search query “What is keyword difficulty”. This paragraph snippet covers the keyword difficulty definition. We originally wrote it to explain what’s the metric about and how we calculate it. It’s basically a very detailed interpretation for KWFinder users.

featured snippets keyword difficulty

Analogically, the Moz metrics and the number of social shares is wafer-thin compared to articles published by Moz or Ahrefs.

featured snippets keyword difficulty serp analysis

What have we learned?

We formulated the outcome of our analysis into the 10 best practices:

1. We don’t need to rank first to be featured in a snippet. However, we need to rank on the first page. Guys from Moz analyzed the results and found out the most results featured in snippets ranked from #1 to #5.

featured snippets serp results ctr

2. We need specific content that directly responds to the search query.

3. How to boost CTR from featured snippets? Formulate the copy so it serves as a teaser for more interesting stuff so it motivates users to click. Ben Goodsell explains in a case study how featured snippets led to a 516% increase in sessions and CTR jumped from 2% to 8%.

4. Page Authority and Domain Authority don’t need to reach high values. The same applies to the number of visitors, backlinks or social shares.

5. Well-structured content is a must. It should answer questions. On the other hand, it turned out that using questions isn’t maybe mandatory. We haven’t used a one that would match with the search query “top keywords 2016”.

6. Skipping keyword research would be a suicide. We recommend playing with questions such as What is, How to, How do.

7. We optimized both mentioned blog posts in the best way possible. Even if you don’t make it to snippets, you’ll boost your rankings.

8. There’s no special mark-up for featured snippets. Google algorithm decides which website is most likely to answer the question.

9. If you don’t want your content in featured snippets, you can opt out by using <meta name=”googlebot” content=”nosnippet”>.

10. Featured snippets are great for users. The ideal scenario is a snippet that covers all information, so they don’t have to click on any of the results. But it’s probably not a very good idea from content creator’s perspective. It’s a bit tricky whether snippets are profitable or not. Our case study proves they can be.

  • Thanks for the post, but I have a question. I searched for both “top keywords 2016” and “What is keyword difficulty” and didn’t see the featured snippets on my search result. Do you know how often or when they show it? Do you know if it’s only showing for specific countries?

    • Hello Phil, thank you for the question. Yes, this can happen, as Google says: “…we might show a search result in a special featured snippet…” It also depends on personalized results based on your search history, location, etc. On top of that, featured snippets are dynamic, so if Google algorithm evaluates there’s a different answer for the query, they will probably change the snippet as well. Hope this helps!

  • This featured snippet thing is really game changing in SEO, I see traffic spikes and downs due to his new Google update. I really dont like this update as it decreases CTR for site ranking 1st position too.

    • Hi Jitendra. Yes, the CTR thing can be tricky. Except the snippets, we ranked on 2nd and 3rd and it boosted our CTR. It really depends on the information in the snippet and overall content structure.