Before we dive in, here are the four most important things you need to know about Google's Featured Snippets: 

  • Featured Snippets are answer box search results that are featured on top of page one Google results.

  • Adding concise statements that summarize the search answer your content addresses will help your article garner snippet status.

  • Appearing in a feature snippet increases page traffic about 20 to 30 percent.

  • You do not need to change the overall style of your article to optimize for snippets.

Although Google search algorithms are constantly changing, we always advise our Masthead Media clients to focus on high-quality content above all else.

Even back in the day when a clickbait title (This Article Ranked for Snippets, and What Happened Next Is Shocking, anyone?) and a high density of keywords could help win search, it has never been the way to win over your audience or customers. Engaging, informative, and entertaining content provides real value to your audience, and studies show consumers actually want to read it.

That said, taking a look at current Google search trends and optimizing your high quality content will help it get in front of more people. One way to do that with a relatively low impact on the overall article style is optimizing content for featured snippets.

Featured snippets on Google are expanded search results that appear in a Google answer box on the first results page. Even if you've never heard the term, you're probably familiar with it if you've Googled for recipes (or anything with numbered instructions) and found a summarized article preview with the first few steps. The traffic improvement of appearing in a featured snippet is significant: Appearing in a featured snippet increases page traffic, on average, about 20 to 30 percent, and the click through rate (CTR) goes up by 677 percent, according to Content Marketing World.

The best part? Optimizing new and existing content for snippets is actually pretty easy. Follow these three steps to set your content up for snippet success:

Assess Your Content

Bad news: Even if your brand writes an amazing article about the upcoming royal wedding, you're probably not going to win the term "royal wedding"--there's just too much noise to break through. Instead, using a search tool like SEM Rush, assess what long-tail search terms your content is already winning, or close to winning--the more words the better. From there, incorporate keyword rich search answers around that term and adjacent terms.

Answer Concisely

The average paragraph snippet is about 45 words (the maximum word count in snippets is 97 words), while the average featured snippet list is just about 4 lines (maxing out at 8), so use your real estate wisely. This doesn't mean you need to stick to short-form content, though: as long as your key information is in one paragraph or list within the article, it can get picked up for featured snippet.

Answer More Questions

One piece of content isn't limited to one featured snippet. In fact, once your article is featured as the snippet for one search question, it's more likely to be featured as the snippet for related questions. So don't worry about cannibalizing one snippet for another--as long as your article doesn't lose its brand voice by reading as an FAQ section, your article won't suffer in search.

Above all, remember that this is a long game. Although you can certainly apply these techniques to new content, don't expect a quick payoff. The vast majority of featured snippets already appeared on page one search results, so your best bet is to use these tips for already high-performing content to take it to the next level.