Search Engine Optimisation

Featured Snippets: A Short CTR Study on Different Types of Featured Snippets and the art of Optimizing for it

Google featured snippets are a powerful tool of SEO and a necessity for any business. This blog post will cover everything you need to know about it to excel your business.
What are featured Snippets and How important they are.

What are featured Snippets

A featured snippet is a feature of the search result page that provides maximum and accurate information to your query on top of the page, along with citations to your website.

Types of Featured Snippet

  • Definition Box

This is a snippet of text designed to give web users a direct, concise definition or description relating to their query. 

For example – when you search for ‘Backlinks in SEO,’ Google shows a definition box on the top, which has the basic definition, title, website URL along with image (the image could be yours or 3rd party)

In most cases, Google tries to show a Definition Box for “What, Full Form & meaning” related queries as they all are inclined towards understanding the basics.

Example

  • Table

This is where Google pulls data from a page and displays it as a table.

Here’s an example

  • Ordered List

This is a list of items presented in a specific order. Google tends to use ‘Ordered Lists’ for queries that need a set of steps.

The key here is to lay out your page so that the specific steps or lists of items are presented in a way that Google can easily understand.

Specifically, you want to wrap every item or step in H2 or H3 text and present each item as a subheading.

  • Unordered List

This is Google’s way of presenting a list of items that don’t need to be in any particular order.

Example

  • Video Featured Snippet

In this type of featured snippet, Google tries to identify relevant videos suited for the queries and deliver the best results.

Example

Why are featured snippets important?

Featured snippets are vital as they allow you to rank higher along with much bigger SERP Estate, which can have a significant impact on your website traffic.

Mainly featured at the top of the page, featured snippets stand out from the regular organic results, thereby giving you more eyeballs and brand recognition. 

CTR STUDY – Below are the sample data for reference out 300 total KW analyzed

Sample – Featured Snippet AVG. CTRs based on its type

Position 1 AVG. CTRs based

Findings – 

Definition featured snippet: Can vary from 3% to 35% based on the intent and query

List and table featured snippet CTRs can vary between 14% to 50% based on the query intent with no ads and 4% to 9% if there are ads.

No 1 Position results CTR can vary between 8% to 14% with ads

No. 1 Position result CTRs can vary between 30% to 45% without ads

Based on the above table, we can see how different featured snippets significantly improve a website’s CTRs (click to ratio). There are situations where the CTRs might be very low based on the intent, results. 

For example – Someone searching for meaning will get a definition, and the CTRs would below. The same person might search a what query and still get a definition or SERP. However, the CTR could be much higher because that query intent was to know more.

Examples – Term insurance meaning, why term insurance is important

Types of Queries that can trigger above Featured Snippets

Paragraph: In this, Google extracts text from a page to provide an exact answer to the users’ query.

This featured snippet can be triggered by “WH” questions, such as

  • What is/are
  • Why is/are
  • Who is/are

The Numbered List: These featured snippets often list out steps that explain how to do something which involves step by step process.

This featured snippet can be triggered by

  • Recipes
  • DIY tasks
  • How to
  • How do I

Bullet List: Listicles are made for these types of featured snippets, whether you’re ranking items or simply listing them.

This featured snippet can be triggered by

  • Best/Top of lists
  • Ranked items
  • Unranked items
  • Feature lists

Four tried and tested methods with anecdotal evidence to get Featured Snippet

  • Identification of Keywords
  • Content Structuring and writing
  • Utilization of Headers, Title and HTML Tags
  • Improve readability for crawlers with Schema Markups

Step 1#: KW Identification

The most important step is to identify the keyword theme and keywords that you would like to target. You can decide the themes that you want to target and go ahead with optimizing the page. For example, if you are in travel business and want to rank for ‘CIBIL Score Check’

  • Go on Google search and look for the competitor, utilise SEM Rush to identify all the keywords for which the competitor is ranking for using filter

This is how you will get list of top wks. for which the competitor is ranking on Featured snippet.

For further we will be utilizing Income Tax Table, Netflix Movies order, unOrder EDTech, Schema Markup definition as a theme for anecdotal observations.

Step 2: Content Structuring

One of the most important aspect when it comes to the chances of getting featured is content and how its structured.

While we evolved long way the way we consume content and that’s what goal has been for major search engines, to provide good, reliable and consumable content.

This has led to the way people create and publish content online and those who did, started receiving the benefits of Featured Snippet.

  • Keep the title of the article conversational in nature along with the targeted query.
  • Start answering right after the question and keep it to the point – Example
  • Ensure the content in these questions are between 35-55 characters based on the query intent.
  • For example, a definition might be 35 characters while steps or list may be 55.
  • Its highly recommended to have hero image/video to enhance your Featured Snippet and more landscape
  • Enhance the readability and visual representation with appropriate structuring use Bullet Points, Numbering
  • Ensure your headers are what, how, list, steps, process to give better content understanding for crawlers

Step 3: Utilization of Headers, Title and HTML Tags

Headers, page title and HTML Tags are integral part of your featured snippet strategy as it helps search engines to better understand the context of the page. Hence, it becomes paramount for SEOs to utilize these efficiently.

Tagging your important questions under H1, H2,H3 so emphasis on the query that is targeted and gives search engines better understanding

HTML Tags such as <TH> <OL><UL> are some of the most important HTML tags that can be used represent table in much better tabular format. Such type of content is tag under aforementioned html tags.

Step 4: Use Schema Markup Tags

Schema Markup (or schema.org markup) is a form structured data along with set of parameters to filled for specific entity or web page which goes into the HTML of the page so that search engine crawlers can better understand the content in a much efficient way. There are several ways to implement such as microdata, rdf. However, JavaScript Object Notation-Linked Data, or JSON-LD is the most popular of all

While devising your featured snippet strategy Schema can play a pivotal role in uplifting your chances.

You can use following schema –

Quick Analysis and Observations

Income Tax Slab – you get a TABLE Featured Snippet

Netflix – You get Ordered List Featured Snippet

Life Insurance Company – Unordered List

Schema – You get Definition Featured Snippet

Table Snippet observations

As per my observation working with numerous clients looking at their data, I have come to a conclusion that the data for such type of featured snippet is exact replica of the data present on the website page under a well-structured table.

Based on our example on step 2 let’s observe for income tax slab

HTML Code

The key take way here is to have the Keyword Targeted in your Headers along with the data in a well-structured table format and it’s important to use the <TH><TD> tags as majority of the table featured list gets triggered if a website has utilized these html tags.

In addition to this, we have also observed for numerous queries the table featured snippet shows content anywhere between 45 -55 characters

List Featured Snippet Observations

Ordered List

Based on the search query in step 2 which was “top 10 movies of 2019 netflix”

Unordered List

The Key here is to utilize the H1 tag to target your important keyword for which you want to rank for in Featured Snippet. Additionally, the movie names subsequently are tagged as H2 and important to note here is to have the numbering which helps the objective. Along with this most importantly utilization of OL& UL Tags can have positive impact on your chances

Definition Featured Snippet observations

Based on the search query in step 2 “What is schema markup” we were getting 2 different results now and then. Let’s look at these website pages –

(SEMrush)

(Impactplus)

The key observation here is how the content/definition/answer for the query is described. The content in both the cases seem more like a dictionary context and starting the content in this tonality would improve your chances of ranking in this position. Apart from this few other this you should focus are

  1. Usage of headers (H1,H2,H3)
  2. Implementing article markup
  3. Ensure your answer is within 30-40 words
  4. Include Hero Image and implement alt tags

Passage Indexing Observations

Google passage indexing is an automated feature that pulls sections from pages into search engine results, even if the page covers a slightly different topic from the main one.

Example – Term Insurance Age Limit

When user clicks Google takes me to exact location of the content automatically by highlighting the context

We can clearly see the article topic is something different from that of the query however due to passage indexing algorithm Google deemed the website to be authoritative in its domain and because the website has covered the content. The key takeaway would be to have more information about a specific topic and enhance the master articles or content to reap additional search traffic

3.5 Optimizing for Video Featured Snippet

Although, optimizing for video featured snippet can be a daunting task given the fact YouTube dominates the video search and anything related to Google. Having said that it shouldn’t stop a marketeer to be creative and think outside of box

Other Factors to consider are Backlinks.

 You may wonder all that we have seen above is related to the way content is written, structured, usage of appropriate queries and other html tags. However, backlink forms a core factor here too why? Because majority of times for each industry you will vastly see similar names in the featured snippet / organic SERPs because they have higher authority then any smaller players out there. Hence, I believe backlink plays and important role along with

For example –

In india for insurance segment will always see the known player HDFC, ICICI, Policy, Max acquiring the maximum market share due to their authority.

For Stock Market you will see MoneyControl, Zerodha, Groww, Upstox, Mutual Fund Sahi hai

Featured Snippet and Voice Search

40% of internet users in the U.S. use voice search, so yes this is the next big thing that’s happening.

The Manifest also reported that younger generations (ages 18–34) are more likely to use voice search to issue commands (27%), while older generations use it to find information (52% of users over 55).

More voice search stats –

20% of mobile queries are now voice searches 

40.7% of all answers from voice search are pulled from a Featured Snippet

The average voice search result contains only 29 words

Websites with high domain and link authority tend to rank best in voice search

 – source

You don’t need to do anything different however you have to ensure the keywords or query that you are targeting is more of conversational nature while following all the above strategies.

For example: I used voice search – “Name change procedure after marriage for a girl”

Some queries,

  • How to reach Pulga valley from kasol by foot
  • Near Me (GMB & Website)
  • Quick information – why money plant is called a money plant

My Thoughts

Featured Snippet is Google’s way to enhance user experience by providing quality results. However, that’s a challenge for SEO experts to ensure that they work on CTR to influence people to click and visit your website.

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