5 Easy Steps to Update Your Existing Blog Posts and Gain New Featured Snippets | SEOblog.com

5 Easy Steps to Update Your Existing Blog Posts and Gain New Featured Snippets

Anusha Sriram

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Did you know that the top five positions in Google search engine results pages (SERPs) get 67.6 percent of the traffic? With billions of websites worldwide, ranking for competitive keywords and landing in the top five feels like a far-fetched dream. But there is an easy five-step way to bypass the first five SERP positions and land at the top of the page? You can do this without having to create new content, build tons of backlinks or wait for years! You can climb to the top of the SERPs space in a few easy steps that optimize and structure your existing content for featured snippets.

When you own a featured snippet, you can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Occupy most of the space in SERPs above the fold
  • Enjoy a huge traffic bump
  • Increased brand awareness and boosted domain authority
  • Get picked up for more voice searches
  • Higher click-through rate

The Truth About Featured Snippets

Seventy percent of featured snippets are pulled from results other than the first organic result and 30 percent of snippets are picked from listings between the fourth and 71st organic positions.

So, what does this mean for you? If you secure a featured snippet spot, you jump to the first position on Google almost instantly even if you are currently in 10th position! Featured snippets are picked by Google based on user intent, the precision of your answer and the structure of the page. This means you can strategically optimize every piece of your content for featured snippets.

Also, with the new 2020 Google update, featured snippets are not considered to be position zero anymore. They are now a part of the top 10 search results which makes them even more desirable.

13 Common Observations on Featured Snippets

Google says that there are no specific ways for us to indicate that a piece of content should be used for featured snippets. So, the best way to optimize for a featured snippet is to identify the common traits observed in most of them and follow the same for your content as well.

Here are few observations related to featured snippets:

  1. Featured snippets can be different formats — paragraph snippets, video snippets, table snippets, listicle snippets or image snippets.
  2. According to a study by Hubspot, snippets are more likely to have a word count between 54 to 58 words.
  3. Featured snippets are usually pulled for user queries, which answer questions such as “how”, “what”, “why” or “when”. Semantic relevance and matching user intent are the most important factors taken into account by Google while featuring a snippet.
  4. Another major observation is that the majority of featured snippets available are for long-tail keyword variations as compared to the shorter, more competitive ones.
  5. Page structure plays a huge role in featured snippet optimization so make sure to use proper HTML tags for your keyword and its answer.
  6. Featured snippets are usually more data-driven than opinion-based.
  7. Lower page load speeds have better chances of landing featured snippets.
  8. Featured snippets are usually stand-alone content which make complete sense even when snipped from a long piece of content.
  9. Google prefers to pick featured snippets for voice searches and research says that 90 percent of Google Assistant answers come from snippets.
  10. According to Google, adding structured markup has no effect on your featured snippet optimization efforts.
  11. Backlinks for featured snippets do not matter as much as they do for ranking in the first position.
  12. Also, one web page can be featured in multiple snippets for various search terms.
  13. Certain words tend to trigger featured snippets more than others.

Here are 5 Easy and Actionable Steps to Optimize Your Existing Content for Featured Snippets

Now you know all the factors that might increase your chances of getting featured snippets. Let’s look at the five actionable steps for optimizing your existing content to grab featured snippets:

1. Analyze Your Existing Content

The first step is to conduct an audit of your existing content to fish out all the featured snippet opportunities you can get.

  • Get a list of all the keywords you are already ranking for (preferably in the top 10 positions on SERPs) and pick out the ones that are question-based search terms. For example: pick keywords like “how to add schema markup” instead of “schema markup”. You can use any keyword research tool for this.
  • Next, find the pages which are ranking for these search queries. For example, a keyword like “what is link building” might be ranking for your post on “The ultimate guide to link-building”.
  • Here’s a way to find more question-based keywords – pick out the keywords that you are ranking for and simply do a Google search. Then find related search queries from the “People also ask” section. For example, if you are ranking for the keyword “voice search optimization”, then you can find related queries such as “how do I optimize voice search”. Or, you can also use Answer the Public tool to find related search queries.
  • And now, you have a list of queries and pages that you want to optimize for featured snippets.

2. Decide on the Type of Snippet Based on Your Query

Like we discussed in one of the previous section, snippets can be of many types:

Paragraph snippets (the most common type):

Table snippets:

Table snippets

Listicle (Numbered/Bullet style) snippets:

Bullet style snippets

Video snippets:

Video snippets

Now, you need to decide which type of snippet would be best suited for your query. The easiest way is to look at the already ranking snippet for your search term and see what type does Google prefer.

If Google doesn’t have a snippet for your query then you can figure it out by looking at the search term. For example, a “how-to” question would usually fit into a listicle style snippet whereas, a “why” or “what” kinda query would be best answered in a paragraph format.

3. Prepare a Perfectly “Snippable” Answer Based on the Query

Now, you have your search query and the decided snippet format with you. So, the next step is to chalk out the actual answer for your featured snippet query. For this, start by analyzing the structure of the page which you want to optimize for the featured snippet. Check if you have already answered the search query in that page in some form or the other.

Now, create the answer content in the format that you have decided. Here’s what you should keep in mind while creating content that is optimized for featured snippets:

  • First and foremost, make sure that your featured snippet answer and the post is up-to-date.
  • Create content in the range of 40 to 55 words.
  • Use words that are highly likely to trigger featured snippets like “best”, “make”, or “definition.”
  • Make sure that your answer is data-driven and accurate.
  • Do not use a very casual tone for your featured snippet content, avoid humor or sarcasm or even a strong brand voice in the featured snippet answer.
  • Positive sentiment always works better, so avoid creating content that has a strong negative tone.
  • Make your answer concise and to the point.
  • And the most important thing to remember is to keep the user intent in mind, make your answer useful and relevant to the person searching.

4. Add Your Snippet Content to the Already Existing Page

The next step would be to add the snippet to your content.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Follow an inverted pyramid structure for your page:
    Which means, add the most important information at the top of the page, and end the page with the most general and least relevant information.
  • Try to add your featured snippet content in the first 200 words of your page:
    This improves your chances of getting picked by Google and improves user experience as well.
  • Try to reduce your bounce rate and increase your dwell time as much as possible:
    This can be done by updating your content to match user intent, and making it useful and engaging.
  • Make it a point to keep your snippet as a standalone entity without disturbing the user experience :
    So, when your snippet appears in the search results, it should look complete. And yet the user should want to click on it to get further information on the topic.
  • You can also add answers to multiple search queries in one single post:
    This will be helpful because if a page appears in a featured snippet, chances are high that the page will rank for other related snippets also.

5. Format Your Page in a Way that Google Features Your Snippet

Formatting your snippet and page structure is a major part of featured snippet optimization. Only with the proper format, will Google be able to crawl through your content, understand the context and ultimately pick it up for the featured snippet.

Here are a few tips to format your content for featured snippets:

  • Add your search term or query in a header tag and your answer in a paragraph (<p>) tag if it is a paragraph snippet, ordered or unordered list tags for listicle snippets, and table tag for table snippets.
  • For images and videos, make sure that the alt tags and titles contain your keywords.
  • Ensure that your search query and the answer to it stands out, so that it is easier for both the user and Google to fish it out.
  • For video snippets, add transcripts so that Google can read it and feature it.
  • A useful tip here would be to add transcripts to your videos on YouTube so that these are also indexed for search results.
  • Add illustrations, relevant images and charts wherever necessary as this increases user experience.
  • Try to add your snippet content above the fold for maximum optimization.

A Few Other Best Practices to Follow for Featured Snippet Optimization

  • Conduct an SEO audit of your page/site and fix any technical SEO errors such as broken links or indexing issues.
  • Make your site mobile-friendly.
  • Improve your page load speed.
  • Optimize all the images and videos that are added to your site.
  • Use user-friendly URLs.
  • Make your content readable and avoid walls of text.
  • Optimize your content for user intent.
  • Implement advanced SEO tactics to maximize your chances of getting featured.

Conclusion

Remember that all your efforts for optimization will go to waste if your content is not high-quality. So make sure that you put out top-notch quality content and only then optimize these for featured snippets.

A good way to look at it is to compare your snippet content with the already ranking snippet content. Is your content more helpful, up-to-date and accurate than the existing one? Then you are on the right track to grab hundreds of featured snippets for your website!

Do let us know if you have any other tips for featured snippet optimization!

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