Featured snippets have been around for quite some time now. This is Google’s way of answering queries with complete information when possible. It’s especially useful when using voice search as you get an answer rather than a set of results you need to peruse.
Here’s a recent example of a featured snippet from this very short article on ChatGPT vs Playground.
Getting a featured snippet isn’t always amazing for generating traffic, as the whole point is to offer an answer rather than deeper exploration. But features are great for impressions, brand awareness, trust building, and doing your good deed for the day.
Want your own? Here’s our take on how to get a featured snippet. Spoiler alert, it sounds a lot like everything we say. Do it for people and use data (about people) to make sure you’re not missing the mark.
Writing content for featured snippets is writing content for human experience.
The great news about writing for featured snippets is that you’re actually making your content more useful. While there are some tips and tricks to crafting content that is more likely to be served as a feature, there are no guarantees you’ll get the placement. That said, I can pretty much guarantee you that writing for featured snippets will make your content more useful to people and thereby more useful to you.
Google says there’s nothing you can do to make your page a featured snippet.
That said, here are some ways to make content more likely to achieve featured snippets and be effective if/when featured snippets show up.
- Include a clear topic in the title
It’s fun to be clever. Go ahead. But also make sure you include something crystal clear first. In general, we try to recommend clients lead with a short burst of fact, then add the fun.
- Include a question in the title
This is, again, especially useful for voice search. It also helps you, the writer, to frame your answer properly.
- Include “how to” content
Everyone always thinks they can DIY everything. Capitalize on it. “How To” also frequently requires a nice list of steps – which is great for featured snippets and for humans.
Format articles with a summary of the full article at the top. Use bullets, numbered steps, short descriptions, etc. to increase chances of returning a featured snippet in search results.
- Pro tip: make lists longer than 8 bullets to increase the chance of click through
- Destroy the Competition
Pithy, complete, and competitive answers should naturally help you rise to the top. Check out what the top results are for the topic of choice and make sure you’re better. What did they miss that you can exploit? How can you write a more complete or concise response?
- Be Thorough
Create a comprehensive, in-depth answer below the intro – make sure your content is more complete and includes more resources and rich content than competitors ranking well for the same topic / question.
“Thorough” you say? But how?!?
It’s easier than you think. And again, it starts with people. Here are some pro tips on leveraging easy-access, human-focused data to make sure you’re nailing it for the reader.
Pro Tip: Check out “people also asked” to get an idea of related questions and concepts.
Pro Tip: Get ChatGPT to help you identify common questions and themes.
Pro Tip: See if the topic is on Wikipedia, scroll to the bottom of the listing and check out the categories for a quick look at the taxonomy of the concept.
Pro Tip: Use Google Trends to determine related and rising queries. Bonus if your topic is actually a topic and not just a search term.
Pro Tip: Proper schema markup or micro data may also help to increase the chance of these rich snippets appearing in the SERP. Schema’s relationship to the knowledge graph, known entities and taxonomies lead me to believe good use of schema will help you get featured snippets. Oh, and please make sure your schema validates. PLEASE.
How is AI going to affect features?
Both Google and Microsoft are rolling out AI features in search. The most logical place you’ll see that is in lieu of or in addition to features. Featured snippets are one of very few ways that search engines answer your questions directly and it’s a natural springboard for AI.
Right now, asking AI is a better experience for addressing layers of intent than our current search engine experience; it provides complete answers that can be further leveraged to help you actually use the answers (like building a meal plan).
That likely means getting a featured snippet as an organization is going to change. Us regular people with natural intelligence may take a back seat to the monster we created with our great content and massive brains.
How can I use AI to increase my chances at a featured snippet?
Dude, AI was made for this job. Write your article and get ChatGPT (or AI of choice, including Google Docs’ auto summary) to summarize it for you. Ask specifically for more than 8 bullet points as part of the summary.
You can also use AI to plan the content, helping you identify common questions, needs and themes to write a more thorough and complete piece of content.
Be super careful using AI. Don’t just use whatever ChatGPT generates or you are likely to pay for it – regardless of how good it is. Even OpenAI is playing ball now to help make AI detectable. So make sure you edit!
The bottom line – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Don’t make promises with your headlines your content can’t keep. If you tell everyone they’re getting a chili recipe – give them a chili recipe. And make sure it’s great! If you don’t like wading through someone’s intricate depiction of the last 10 years of their family’s beach vacations before getting to the chili recipe, chances are no one likes it.
Get to the point. Be helpful. Succeed.