Featured snippets are a specific format in Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page), which displays a concise answer to a search query, with a link to original page.
Here is an example of featured snippet.
Should you optimize for featured snippets?
But, this blog is about another thing, should you optimize for featured snippets?
The issue is, when your page is displayed as a featured snippet, it is removed from other results in Google.
Here is a brilliant study from Ahrefs about featured snippets by Tim Soulo.
It shows, that in fact, featured snippets drive less clicks, than first result in Google Search.
According to Ahrefs:
“When there’s a featured snippet at the #1 position, it only gets ~8.6% of clicks (on average), while the page that ranks right below it will get ~19.6% of clicks (on average).”
So, seems featured snippet can steal clicks from #1 ranking result.
Then I stumbled this tweet by Cyrus Shepard from Moz.com.
New SEO Experiment: What happens to traffic when you remove yourself from Google’s Featured Snippets?
• Google’s nosnippet tags effectively remove you from snippets
• We measured 12% traffic loss
• Some snippets never came back
— Cyrus (@CyrusShepard) April 15, 2020
So, seems this experiment contradicts with Ahrefs study. Maybe, because Ahrefs data is already outdated?
The @ahrefs test was definitely the best! Could be wrong, but I believe the data was from circa ~2017? We might need an update as user behavior might’ve changed since then.
Also, no double-dipping results anymore might alter the data.
— Cyrus (@CyrusShepard) April 15, 2020
Anyway, I think we need to settle it once and for all – should you stick to #1 ranking result in Google or try to push it to featured snippet?
Yeah, we definitely need an update, to settle this once and for all 😁 Optimize or not for featured snippets, I’m a bit confused now 🤔 Seems, from your data, that featured snippets is the way to go. Thanks for a great experiment!
— andrii (@andriigrh) April 15, 2020
This is a good point. It obviously depends, which types of featured snippets will drive clicks.
Big difference in click driving snippets and full answer snippets. Moz’s example has “More items” on the list – which helps drive the click. It’s not just about getting snippets, but making it so a click is needed to get a complete or more comprehensive answer for the user.
— Stockbridge Truslow (@StockbridgeT) April 16, 2020
At the moment, I think, featured snippets is the future and you should aim for them.
- Google will prioritize rich data more and more
- Featured snippets are above all other results, except ads (e.g. above “People also ask”, Videos, Top stories and so on)
- If you have a lot of FS, it also strengthens your branding – users constantly see your domain on top, even if they don’t click.
This is my subjective thought 🙂
How to optimize for featured snippets?
There is a great study from HubSpot about their experience with featured snippets optimization.
Here is how to optimize for featured snippets:
1. Export your pages and posts, which rank in top 5 results on Google
It can be easily done using e.g. Ahrefs.
2. Update formatting on these pages
There are mainly two types of featured snippets – paragraphs and lists. Below, I’m using example content.
a. For paragraphs, in the top part of the article, add this in HTML:
<h2>What are featured snippets?</h2>
<p>Featured snippets are … </p>
b. For lists – add this:
<h2>What are best SEO tools?</h2>
Add up to 8 bullet points. Don’t use numeric lists, as Google sometimes automatically adds numbers in featured snippets.
Also, if your content has list elements, for example, blog post about best SEO tools, you should have a clear list formatting. Each SEO tool name should be either H2 or H3 heading and have a number. It will look like:
<p>Ahrefs is a backlink analysis tool, which …</p>
So, Google bot can clearly identify list elements, while crawling the page.
Bottom line, if your formatting is not clear, even if your page ranks higher, Google can prioritize a lower ranking page, but with a better formatting for featured snippet result.