You have probably seen and benefited from a Google featured snippet.  It’s the box at the top of the search results which contain the exact information you need.  Question is, how can your business score this great marketing opportunity?

Google Featured Snippet

Instead of just typing a few keywords into your Google search, such as hotels in Hartford or restaurants in Raleigh, you phrase your inquiry more in the form of a question.  This is a practice known as a long-tail query.  Along with the standard million hits generated on your Search Engine Results Page, or SERP, a miracle occurs when the exact information you need appears on top of the organic results, along with a handy link to the pertinent website.  At first, you’re simply happy that you have the answer you need, but then you wonder if you can do the same for your business.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your website magically propelled to the top of Google search results?  Through your innocent search, you have stumbled onto a result called the Google featured snippet.  The question now is whether you can take advantage of this opportunity to help market your own business to a wider audience.  It is possible if you pay a little more attention to how you construct and present information on your web pages.

What Is a Google Featured Snippet?

The basic type of Google snippet, or rich snippet, is what you see included under each listing. This is a brief description provided by content authors to help make their page more searchable. But a Google featured snippet, or answer box is a block right at the top of the page that includes a summary of the answer to an inquiry, which has been extracted from a web page.  It also provides an easy link to the page, the page title, and URL.  Most searchers will go immediately to this website because it looks like they will be able to find more information that is pertinent to their search.

To generate its search listings, Google “crawls” the web, looking at websites and analyzing their content.  It is programmed to look for key information that searchers might require.  The summary provided is extracted from content provided on the web page.  The difference with a featured snippet is that it is enhanced and prominently positioned in the results.  When the Google user asks a particular question, the search engine looks for pages that can provide the answer and then displays the result as a featured snippet.  The amazing thing is that the company itself might only be in the top ten of the normal search results, and doesn’t necessarily have to be at the top.  But, their ability to provide content in the desired format can yield a highly desirable result.

Is There a Secret Way to Generate a Google Featured Snippet?

You can’t necessarily include anything behind the scenes in your website to garner the top snippet spot, but you can structure your content in such a way that it increases the likelihood of Google recognizing that your website can provide the answer to a specific search inquiry.  You want to start with making sure your website is formatted properly so that it already appears high up in search results, and then you can add certain touches to reach for the snippet spot.

There are certain basics which help attract Google’s attention to your website.  The first is your on-page SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, which you can generate through keywords, internal links, proper page formatting, timely content, and a quality user experience.  Off-page SEO is garnered when other sites link to yours because of the perceived quality of your content. Getting more backlinks increases the authority and credibility of your site.

Once the fundamentals are in place, you can analyze your content to try to score the featured spot.  There are three basic strategies which can help you get closer to this goal:

  1. Think in snippet terms.
  2. Optimize headings.
  3. Provide quality data.

Think in snippet terms:  Look at your keywords or subject matter, and think about how your customers and prospects might word a question to find what you have.  Then study your content to see how you might be able to structure it to provide strong answers to those questions. For example, instead of just searching for “widget,” a potential customer might search something like, “What are the top benefits of using steel widgets to connect parts?”  If your website has content that actually lists the benefits of using steel widgets to connect parts, its got a good chance of becoming a featured snippet.  The key here is to focus on user intent and create responsive content.

Optimize headings:  The next step is to look at the headlines you use on your page content and blogs.  Google’s crawlers are likely to skim over most of your content and focus on the headlines you provide.  Make sure you use headlines that answer key customer queries and put them in H2 format to be sure they stand out on the page.  Using H2 tags with answers to specific questions helps the search engine focus its efforts, and increases the chances of the content becoming a featured snippet.

Provide quality data:  The third component is to use structured data to provide clues to the search engine.  This helps Google to better classify your page content.  With a craft project, for example, the structured data would include the materials needed, steps in the process, and estimated completion time.  This gives Google the idea that it is looking at a craft page, and helps bring it to the front when it receives queries about a particular craft.

Structured data is best provided through a JavaScript notation, which is embedded in the page head or body.  This is done behind the scenes of your page content and is not seen by your visitors.  This involves a bit more knowledge than simply writing copy.  Behind the scenes, you have to provide data in a certain format that might list key concepts inside of quotation marks, followed by a colon, and link or answer information also enclosed in quotation marks and separated by a comma.  There are tools available which can make this process much easier.

Even if you don’t manage to score the coveted snippet spot, taking this approach to website and content design will definitely help you create a website that is more specific to the needs of your visitors.  You’ll be providing more of the types of information they want in a format that makes it easier to use.  Instead of having a website that is all about your business, it becomes all about how your business helps customers fulfill their needs and wants.

You don’t have to sit idly by and wait for Google to find your website.  Structure it carefully, and then submit your URL information through Google+ or a search console.  We provide technical guidance and information technology support to small businesses.  Contact SunRiver IT Partners today at (615) 646-2121 or info@sunriverit.com if you have IT questions, or need further insights on scoring Google featured snippets.