Rich Snippets and Featured Snippets are a great way to stand out from your competition in the Google search results.
Have you noticed when you type a recipe query into Google that you get a listing with 1 to 5 stars, the number of minutes it takes to prepare, and the number of calories it contains?
That’s a Rich Snippet:
Or maybe you typed a question into Google like this: “what’s the easiest font to read on screen?”
And you got the answer presented to you in a box with a link to the article beneath it?
That’s a Featured Snippet:
Here's another example of a featured snippet, this time from an article of mine titled: '15 Powerful SEO Hacks for WordPress Sites':
Rich Snippets and Featured Snippets are both examples of a new trend in Google Search.
Google wants to enhance the search results by giving searchers more information about the listings that appear in the SERPs.
But very few websites are optimizing their content for Rich and Featured Snippets.
By now you’re probably wondering:
- What are the benefits of Featured Snippets and Rich Snippets?
- How can I get them?
And that’s what I’m going to show you in this article…
But before we get started, I want to clear something up.
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding Featured Snippets and Rich Snippets and a lot of websites say they are synonymous.
Rich Snippets can appear anywhere in the search results.
But Featured Snippets always appear at the very top of the page, above the #1 organic listing (which is why some people call the Featured Snippet ‘Position Zero’).
With that said, let’s dive in.
1. What Are Featured Snippets?
Simply put, a Featured Snippet is an answer to a query that appears in a box above the organic search results. The answer has been extracted from a paragraph of your article and the box contains a link back to your blog post.
Featured Snippets are also known as ‘Answer Boxes’ and they come in three types:
The Paragraph Snippet
By far the most common type of Featured Snippet is the paragraph.
This Featured Snippet type summarizes the answer to a question in a paragraph of about 50 characters with a link to the article, as in the example below:
The List Snippet
The List Snippet usually appears in response to a ‘How To’ search query.
And it typically presents you with a numbered list, as in the example below:
The Table Snippet
This type of Featured Snippet presents data points. It's typically used for things like performance times, products and prices, and sports scores:
So why is Google presenting information in snippets?
One key reason is to reduce the incidence of searchers clicking on search results that don’t answer their query.
By presenting searchers with more information on the SERPs page, Google hopes to make it easier for searchers to choose the search result that best corresponds to their search query.
Watch This Video by Eric Siu of Single Grain: "Google Featured Snippets: How to Rank "0" on Google" (5 min 27 sec)
2. What Are The Benefits of Featured Snippets?
If Google takes content from your page as the answer to a question, your web page becomes a Featured Snippet at the top of the organic results. Some people call this ‘position zero’ because it appears above the #1 organic listing for that search query.
Your page may have been at the bottom of the Page #1 results, but now you’re at the top!
Ann Smarty reports that a whopping 70% of Featured Snippets come from sites that don’t occupy Position #1 in the search results.
But on the other hand you do need a Page #1 listing to get a Featured Snippet - according to an Ahrefs study 99.58% of featured pages rank in the top 10 of Google search results.
How would I get traffic from a Featured Snippet?
Isn’t the whole idea of Featured Snippets that searchers don’t need to click through to the website?
When SEO agencies first heard about Featured Snippets they assumed the Click Through Rate (CTR) would be low, for that very reason.
But their fears proved to be unfounded. Websites that get Featured Snippets have reported a huge increase in their CTR.
So why would that be?
- A Featured Snippet stands out and gets far more attention than a normal organic listing
- By answering the searcher’s question on the SERPs page, you’ve already created a degree of credibility and earned their trust – and that makes it more likely they’ll click through to your site
So how much increased traffic are we talking about?
Well, it’ll vary of course.
But in one instance, a Featured Snippet resulted in a massive 516% increase in traffic, as reported by Search Engine Land. And their conversion rate went from 2 per cent to 8 per cent!
In another study Hubspot found that ranking #0 (i.e. getting a Featured Snippet) "produced a 114% CTR boost, even when they already held the #1 organic position". That's 114% on top of what they were already getting from occupying position #1!
Having your web page chosen by Google as the Featured Snippet for a particular topic is a huge endorsement!
Anyone seeing your website in a Featured Snippet will assume (and rightly so) that you are the authority on that topic.
3. How Can You Get Featured Snippets?
Is there some special kind of code you can add to your page so that it displays as a Featured Snippet?
Unfortunately not, as Google points out on one of its support pages:
And having Structured Markup on your website is not going to improve your chances of getting a Featured Snippet.
In 2016 Getstat analyzed over one million high CPC search queries and found that Structured Markup was even less common on Featured Snippet pages than on regular organic results.
So how do you get your page chosen for a Featured Snippet?
Here are some tips:
- First, get a Page #1 listing in the SERPs (your page already has to be ranked on the first page in order to be programmatically selected as a Featured Snippet)
- Ask questions in your article and then answer them
- Provide the answer in a single paragraph of 45 to 55 words
- Accentuate your questions by turning them into headers, using the H2 or H3 tag
- Include a Q&A section in your article. SEMrush Data Scientist Qi Zhao analyzed over 10 million keywords and 1 million domains to find out what makes Featured Snippets tick. A Q&A section is one of Zhao’s tips to increase your chances of getting featured.
- Apply Brian Dean’s 'Skyscraper Technique' – can you improve on the answer provided in the existing Featured Snippet? Do some research and write an article with a more detailed or more up-to-date answer.
- Do a search on Google for the keyword you’re targeting and notice what kind of Featured Snippet Google is offering for that keyword (paragraph, list, or table). Then tailor your content to that format.
- Include ‘priming phrases’ such as 'Follow these steps', 'Here are the key elements', or '...in the following list'
- Do keyword research with a focus on questions. In KWFinder, for example, you have the option to search for questions. This feature generates search query phrases containing ‘question words’ such as how, what, why, when, who etc. Keywords containing ‘question words’ are more likely to be picked up by Google and used in Featured Snippets.
- Target the most frequently occurring words in Featured Snippets. Ahrefs identified the top 30 most common words in Featured Snippets:
4. What Are Rich Snippets?
A Rich Snippet contains some extra lines of text designed to give the searcher a better idea of what content a search result contains.
In the case of a recipe, the Rich Snippet might include an image, the popularity of the recipe (number of votes), the preparation time, and the number of calories:
For an events web page, a Rich Snippet might include the dates of upcoming performances:
There are many types of Rich Snippets available, well over 100, as you can see from this list on Schema.org.
But the main ones are:
- Business and organizations
And yes, there’s even a Rich Snippet for ‘articles’. One of the elements in the ‘articles’ Rich Snippet is breadcrumb navigation (instead of the default URL):
Watch This Video by The Google Search Team: "Introduction to Rich Snippets" (50 secs)
5. What Are the Benefits of Rich Snippets?
It’s important to emphasize that having Structured Data Markup on your site is not in itself, an SEO advantage.
The advantage of Structured Data comes from the increased visibility you get from a Rich Snippet.
Rich Snippets stand out from other organic results for the simple reason that so few websites are using Structured Data Markup.
But more than that, Rich Snippets often give you slightly more real estate on the SERPs. And that’s another reason why Rich Snippets get a higher Click Through Rate (CTR) than ordinary organic results.
Search Engine Land cites studies showing that Structured Data Markup results in an average 30% increase in CTR.
And of course higher CTR directly impacts SEO: the more clicks you get on your listing, the higher Google will place you in the search results.
6. How Can I Get Rich Snippets?
Rich Snippets are created using Structured Data Markup, which is basically a syntax for telling search engines what categories of information your content contains and how you want it displayed.
There are at least three different formats of Structured Data Markup (including JSON-LD, the one currently favored by Google) and two different vocabularies (the main one being Schema.org).
But let’s not get bogged down in details.
How do you include Structured Data Markup on your website so that your organic listing can appear as Rich Snippets?
Well, as with most things in life, there are WordPress plugins that do exactly that.
The one I use is Schema App Structured Data.
Why that one?
Because it was recommended by Neil Patel and I thought if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.
One good thing about adding Structured Data Markup to your website, is you’ll be in a very small minority. You’ll be giving yourself a big advantage over most other websites.
Search Metrics reports that only 0.30% of domains regularly use schema markup (that’s about 1 in 330).
And Bing carried out a survey in 2016 that found that only 17% of marketers are using (or were planning to use) Schema.org structured data markup.
The first thing to do is download and install the Schema App Structured Data plugin.
Once you’ve installed the plugin, you’ll find it in the WP dashboard in the ‘Settings’ drop-down menu:
On the Schema App page within WP, the first field you’ll see is a box for entering a registration ID.
This is for the paid version of Schema App and you can ignore it – you don’t need the paid version in order to use the Schema App Structured Data plugin.
Just fill in the remaining three fields with your information and you’re ready to go.
So what will the free version of this plugin do for you?
As soon as you activate the plugin, it automatically creates schema.org markup for the all your pages, posts, author and category content leveraging information that already exists in your WordPress website.
As the product page explains:
Once you've activated the Schema plugin, wait a few days and then head over to Google's official testing site. Enter the URL of your website and this tool will tell you if your site is eligible to display rich snippets in the SERPs.
Rich Snippets and Featured Snippets are a way to stand out from your competition in the Google search results.
With less than 1 in 330 websites using Structured Data Markup, Rich Snippets are an easy way to steal a march on your competitors. Just install the Schema WP plugin I mentioned, and your pages will automatically be eligible for display as Rich Snippets.
Featured Snippets require a little bit more work. You'll need to 'prime' your content (by following the tips above) so that it's eligible to be chosen as a Featured Snippet.
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