Google's featured snippet framework is a digital marketing strategy to trigger Google's featured snippet. A box that gives answers to users' questions. It consists of five tactics: target a long-tail keyword; answer in 50-52 words; use Alt Tag consistently; implement Schema markup and publish it as open linked data.
With the team at WordLift, I've been fixated in the last year about the Google's featured snippet. That is a little box that Google triggers before the search results which main is to give a short answer (usually about 50 words) to users.
I argue that the featured snippet is a critical feature, that is bridging the gap between traditional search and voice search. Indeed, getting a featured snippet isn't only about ranking. That is also a matter of branding. When Google is picking up an answer coming from your site, that is - I argue - in the mind of users a powerful branding effort that Google is doing toward your site.
Even though many argue and fear that the snippet might reduce organic traffic toward their site - the argument is "if you give a direct answer to the users why do they have to click through your site?" - I still believe getting a featured snippet is effective for branding. In fact, although the snippets might reduce organic traffic. It is also true that direct traffic might increase over time. If more and more people find an answer that mentions your site, you'll become a trusted source in your industry!
Also, in part, the featured snippet is connected to voice search. In fact, as of now (things are swiftly changing in voice search) that featured snippet also helps you trigger voice search answers to users as shown by a recent study by Backlinko. In fact, the study says:
Appearing in a Featured Snippet may help you rank in voice search. 40.7% of all voice search answers came from a Featured Snippet.
So, how do you improve the chances to get the featured snippet? There is a framework I've been using with the team at WordLift and that I've been testing myself on this blog. I want to show you how I got "snipped" by Google after one day after publishing an article.
The Google's featured snippet framework
Recently I wrote an article about Google's business model. More precisely, about how Google uses a business model, called "hidden revenue business model." I targeted that long tail keyword to get Google's featured snippet. After one day of the publication this is what I got:
How did I get there?
There are five factors I make sure to focus on each time I'm targeting the Google's featured snippet.
Target a long-tail keyword
A long-tail keyword for me is just a specific question I know a user - landing on an article - would like to have answered right away. For instance, as I'm talking about Google's business model regarding "hidden revenue pattern" I'm going to address right away the question "what is a hidden revenue business model?"
That approach - I argue - is effective because you can target a lower competition long-tail keyword, and at the same time rank for other more competitive keywords. In this case, in the title, I have both "hidden revenue business model" and "Google business model." While it will be easier to rank for the former; it will be way harder to get on the first page of Google's SERP for the latter.
Therefore, with this approach, I can target both a less competitive keyword, while still competing for a more difficult keyword.
Answer in about 50 words
The first 50-52 words or the meta-description are critical to trigger the Google's featured snippet. That is why I'm obsessed with making the first lines perfect. That means three things. First, provide an answer, stripped of story-telling in the first few lines. Second, make sure you're in the 50-52 words count limit. Third, include the main keyword so that both Google and the users know that is the relevant answer you're providing.
Be consistent with the Image and Alt Tag
When you upload an image on your site, Google doesn't know what that is. Unless of course, you facilitate that with the Alt attribute. In fact, that is a feature which primary goal is to let visually impaired people what is in the image by allowing screen readers to read the image description.
However, that is also a signal presumably Google uses to understand what the image is about. I believe that is critical because it also allows the search engine to understand the context of the article better. That is why - I believe - is vital to include in the Alt attribute the main keyword you have in the title. In this case, for instance, I used "Google-business-model" as Alt tag.
I also make sure to have a nice graphics as an image. There are several reasons why I do that. In the context of the featured snippet, I use well-designed graphics or compelling images so that I improve the chances of the user clicking on the featured snippet.
Indeed, when triggering a featured snippet Google at times gets images not related to your site. Therefore, Google might opt for pictures coming from other sites. However, if it picks up the image coming from the article that triggered the snippet; with a graphics, you will improve the click-through rate.
Schema markup to facilitate Google understanding of the page
With Schema markup I will allow Google to understand better what's on the page by deciding what to emphasize. This is a critical step as Google has been recommending the use of Schema markup since a few years. Yet, Google now is suggesting to use it more and more as this facilitates its job of understanding web pages. I'm not a programmer, so I use WordLift to add this Schema markup on the page, in a few clicks.
Open linked data to better discoverability
When you create Schema markup on a web page, that Schema can be added in several formats. Among those formats, Google suggests using a format called JSON-LD. This is great because it allows passing critical information to Google without affecting the performance of the page.
Also, JSON-LD can be published as open linked data, which makes it easier for a search engine to discover the content on the page. Put it shortly, after passing critical concepts to the search engine through Schema. You allow the search engine to see how those concepts are connected to each other on the page. Also here, I do that with a tool, WordLift, which does it automatically.
Summary and Conclusions
The Google's featured snippet framework is a marketing strategy which main aim is to trigger Google's feature snippet. This is based on five main tactics:
1. Long-tail keyword addressing a specific question
2. Use a short definition (50-52 words) that gives a specific answer, stripped of any narrative
3. Fill the alt tag field and make it consistent with the title
4. Add Schema markup on the page to pass critical information to Google about the key concepts the article is talking about
5. Publish that data as open linked data which makes it easier for Google to discover the content on the page
Now it's your turn to test that out! Ready? If you need more info feel free to comment below.
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