When it comes to any of the topics that we cover here on “Just the Tip”, we can all gain important vantage points and valuable insights when we discard our professional roles and approach each topic from the perspective of the consumer.
So put on your consumer hat, and imagine that you’re a car buyer, performing a search for the Ford F-150 (the most searched vehicle across 32 states). Without a geographic modifier, page one of those search results are likely to be dominated by entries from the OEM, and the likes of Wikipedia, Carmax, Edmunds, Car Gurus and Car and Driver. In some searches, valuable page one real estate could be filled by Google themselves in the form of Rich Answers, or by aggregate responses in the form of Knowledge Graphs. Performing this search from our offices, we have to scroll halfway down page two before we even find an isolated local dealership listing. So, what does that tell us about how effectively local Ford dealerships in our area are positioning themselves as an authoritative resource? If you’re watching this…call us.
Ask yourself, as a consumer, what differentiates one link from another in your eyes? The average consumer’s search behaviors are influenced by (i) how motivated they are to perform thorough research (ii) their personal recognition of the authoritativeness, expertise and trustworthiness of the author or site owner, and (iii) how much the superficiality of a link resonates with them. Of course, ranking position, meta descriptions, and the presence of knowledge panels and GMBs play a role as well. However, the likelihood of your link being clicked can be drastically affected by Google’s inclusion of a featured snippet in that #0 spot, atop the page.
What is a Featured Snippet?
Type that question into Google (for the benefit of any rookies out there) and we’ll find any number of valuable resources ready to serve up an answer. However, it’s none other than our good friends at MOZ whose answer is spotlighted atop the search results.
It’s literally a featured snippet, about featured snippets, which defines them as…
“Selected search results that are featured on top of Google’s organic search results below the ads in a box. Featured snippets aim at answering the user’s question right away (hence their other well-known name, “answer boxes”). Being featured means getting additional brand exposure in search results.”
Literally a perfect answer, taken directly from MOZ’s content, which serves to establish MOZ and a specific piece of content as authoritative resources. But what does this mean to your dealership? What’s the likelihood that you could find your content selected as a featured snippet? And how can you improve your chances?
Could Your Content Be Selected as a Featured Snippet?
Acknowledging that less than 13% of search queries include a Featured Snippet in their results, over 90% of all Featured Snippets come from resources that are included in the Top 5 ranking positions. Now, remember what we said earlier about the big names in automotive that your dealership is competing against for those page one spots? This highlights the importance of an effective SEO strategy; improving your ranking position (especially interns of local search) is a goal unto itself, but it also improves the likelihood of Google recognizing the authoritative responses that your site offers, and choosing to feature it. That said, your content matters.
Let’s just assume that you (or your SEO provider) have gotten your dealership a well-deserved spot on page one. This says something about the quality of your content, and the effective means by which it anticipates, and answers, popular search queries. But is a particular piece of content “snippet-worthy”?
Ask “What Is..?”
Let’s begin with the entity-based keyword research (that we assume) had been performed. Chances are that you’ve focused your efforts on the questions that are commonly being asked by Google users. Good job. By creating your content with those questions in mind, you’re not only focused on the right topics, but you have the means of including the question itself within your content.
Answer the Question
Pretty self-explanatory, but remember that most featured snippets consist of 2-3 sentences. When answering the question, you’ll need to balance thoroughness with brevity. Formatting matters, and your answer should be easy for Google to read. But remember, the snippet is only a brief highlight of your content. If you’ve presented your question as a header, and followed it up with your comprehensive 2-3 sentence answer, your work isn’t done. You can further enhance your answer with imagery that specifically addresses the keyword and showcases your expertise.
Taking these steps will help you to create high-quality content that’s more favorable in the eyes of both the consumer and Google. Combined with the rest of your comprehensive SEO strategy, this will help to improve your likelihood of ranking higher and grabbing those page one spots. And, while the competition is pretty steep, it maybe even nudge a featured snippet from your content in that sweet, sweet #0 spot.