Search is changing. Most search engines now don’t just bring up a page of 10 search results and two ads at the top when you type in a query. Instead, Google search queries can bring up a whole range of results, and sometimes answer your questions without you ever having to click through to a page.
Take, for example, a search like this: “how many days until halloween.”
You can see that instead of displaying the top result right away, Google answers the question for you in a rich snippet. It also gives you related search queries featuring countdowns for other holidays. On the right is a knowledge panel from Wikipedia about Halloween, and below that, you’ll see the featured snippets section. These snippets will expand when clicked with answers for related questions.
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Finally, after these answers to your queries and any related questions, you get to the first result. At this point, do you even need to visit the website?
Google search is not what it used to be. We all want to be No. 1 on the search results page, but these days, getting to that position isn’t enough. It might be worth your while to instead go after the top featured snippet position.
What’s a featured snippet?
Featured snippets are collections of sentences or words that Google pulls directly from a webpage relevant to the search query. These snippets are displayed right below the search box and are meant to answer search queries quickly. The snippets can appear in the form of lists, how-to steps, tables, short paragraph boxes and other formats.
Earning a featured snippet is one of the best things you can do for your SEO. When you have the featured snippet for a popular search term, you’ll enjoy improved organic traffic from Google search results. According to Ahrefs, about 12% of search queries have featured snippets — that’s about 14 million opportunities for you to earn the top featured snippet position.
On a page without a featured snippet, the top result will generally receive 26% of clicks. But when your content is included in a featured snippet, you will essentially usurp 8% of those clicks from the top result for your featured snippet.
It’s true that one blog post can rank for thousands of search keywords, and that holds true for featured snippets as well. If you work hard on a blog post and make it 10 times better than anything else out there, you will reap the benefits over and over. You can even become an authority on the topic because your site’s content or data table is featured. This brand authority allows you to generate passive links as other sites that discuss the topic reference your definition.
For example, for CollegeFinance.com, we created a pell grant guide that ranks for a variety of terms in featured snippet results, like “pell grant income limits.” CollegeFinance benefited from the traffic and also from the authority of the position. Other sites researching the topic have linked back to their explainers and guides, creating passive link generation for this page. For example, Good.IS (DA 80) linked to our guide as additional research on the topic.
Featured snippets, obviously, decrease the number of user clicks. If a question is already answered, like in my Halloween example above, there is no need to click through. Organic traffic, therefore, is less than it would be on a result from a search engine results page (SERP) without a featured snippet.