The e-book “Google’s Featured Snippets in the Context of Strategic Content Marketing” deals with featured snippets on Google’s search engine results pages (SERP). Featured snippets are a SERP feature that displays excerpts of website content above the list of ‘traditional’ search results.
The e-book examines the strategic impact of featured snippets on digital marketing and, in particular, content marketing:
“The e-book is an adaptation of my master’s thesis which explored Google’s featured snippets. By publishing this e-book and making it available for free, I intend to help digital marketers to better understand featured snippets, how to harness their potential and how to deal with the challenges they entail.” – Kristina Sam-Martin
While there is no official definition, featured snippets may be defined as follows:
A featured snippet may be displayed on top of Google’s search results. It is a concise, automatically generated summary that is extracted from a web page. As opposed to ‘regular’ search results, a featured snippet shows the summary content first, which is followed by the source’s page title and URL. In addition to text and images, featured snippets may also contain videos that are launched at a specific timestamp.
The featured snippet and the first result of ‘traditional’ search results are not always the same. Therefore, competing for the first spot in organic search can require to optimize content specifically for featured snippets.
Research for this e-book has led to the development of seven ranking factors that content marketers should be aware of when targeting featured snippets. Two fundamental factors are without a doubt the overall SEO competitiveness of the website in question, as well as the content quality and authoritativeness on the given topic. While it is important to stress these factors, their importance is by no means limited to featured snippets only. There are two other factors that stand out and are particularly relevant when optimizing for featured snippets: Content structure and HTML formatting as well as text length and phrasing. Following experts’ recommendations on how to address these two factors may give a website the extra boost to rank for featured snippets. In addition, the role of structured data markup, images, and content freshness was explored in the e-book.
Featured snippets – as well as other SERP features – do have an impact on the on-SERP click-through rate. Two phenomena can be distinguished: on the one hand, featured snippets take clicks away from the traditional first organic result. On the other hand, featured snippets are designed to keep users on the SERP by already providing them the answer to their question there, so the share of zero-click searches is on the rise. In addition, they take up quite a lot of display space, so traditional results are not even visible anymore above-the-fold on mobile devices. Their behavior and functioning are very similar to ‘People also ask’ boxes and together, these two SERP features can be found on a large proportion of search results nowadays. Furthermore, featured snippets do play an important role in the development of voice search. Most voice answers are drawn from featured snippets – and Google’s digital assistant only plays one result.
Featured snippets should be considered in all stages of content marketing strategies: their development, implementation and evaluation. That being said, it will not pay off for everybody to specifically target featured snippets – especially in areas with few featured snippets and strong competition. Use a tool such as SEMRush sensor to gauge the share of featured snippets in your sector and country. Once this has been determined, there are a number of ways featured snippets can be integrated into strategic thinking: the role of featured snippets in the customer journey, and how to address featured snippets in content outlines are but two examples.
Experts generally recommend starting with existing content that already ranks well. Therefore, a thorough content audit, as well as a competitive analysis are essential to determine where to begin. Articles that rank in the top five of organic search results are the place to start. The next step is to tweak and improve content by adapting it to the required structure of the snippet and providing a concise bit of information that still offers added-value to the reader.
If you need help to carry out a featured snippet audit and tweak content so it fits the requirements for featured snippets, contact me to start optimizing your website for featured snippets:
The e-book answers the following questions: