As an Automotive company, have you noticed that traffic to your website is dropping? This could be due to Google's Featured Snippet. Learn how to optimise your content to win featured snippets here. Join the #SalesSuperleague.
So what is a featured snippet?
You might have noticed that recently when you search for something specific in Google, you get a box with your answer neatly summarised in it before the ranked list. This is the featured snippet. Great for the searcher, but not so great for the pages below who didn't get a look in. So how does Google do this? It crawls through the top 10 ranked pages and in whichever page it find the best answer to the question, that page wins the featured snippet (it doesn't have to be the no.1 ranked page to win the snippet). This means that it's getting harder and harder for your marketers to get traffic to your website, but on the positive side, your content could end up appearing above the no.1 spot! Below is an example of a search showing the location of a featured snippet.
Different types of featured snippet
A paragraph featured snippet
Illustrated in the example above, a paragraph snippet is a short concise answer to the searchers question.
A list featured snippet
This tends to show up more when a step-by-step or a list answer is required.
A table featured snippet
Google doesn't use this as often, but sometimes a table best illustrates the answer to a question.
Other significant search features
People also ask
Again, if you look at the example above, underneath the snippet box is the 'People Also Ask' section. This is a list of related queries. If you click on any of these related queries it takes you to the featured snippet for that particular search, and subsequently a whole new 'People Also Ask' section.
These appear when Google is asked something with a definite answer. For example, a calculator, sports results and conversions may all appear.
This shows up for high-level questions, usually that are looking for the best or a wide range of something. For example if you search for 'Best Fire Extinguisher' you will see a carousel come up.
Top news stories
This lists the top accredited news sources on the searched for subject.
This usually appears for questions involving a company or business, or even famous locations. It might show Google Maps info, photos, reviews, and information such as business address, phone number etc.
So where do we see featured snippets appearing?
Google is adding featured snippets to more and more search queries so its likely your potential customers are seeing them when they are looking for information. So when are they most likely to show up?
- When a question word is used, for example, Who, What, Where, When, How, Which, Why, Should, Does.. and so on.
- When a result is a head topic or summarises a larger topic.
- When a 'People Also Ask' question is clicked.
- When a high traffic term is used, and Google is adding to these all the time.
Does my Automotive company need to be winning snippets?
The short answer to this is yes! Featured snippets will show up for many of the terms your potential buyers will be searching for. And this is the best way to be seen. With mobile search overtaking desktop search (and the subsequent rise in voice search), you need to change your strategy to be able to attract new customers.
Luckily for us, HubSpot have carried out some research to see how you can win featured snippets.
Will simple, consistent HTML code win more featured snippets?
The answer to this is yes!
If you use copy optimised for the current snippet, and a format the current snippet is already in, it will increase your chances of winning the featured snippet. The new clean code needs to be added to the top of the post. See the examples from HubSpot below.
And here is what it looks like on the front end of HubSpot's blog post.
By using this technique, HubSpot increased the number of snippets in its experimental group from 1-2% to 8-12%, which is a significant increase. There was also a subsequent increase in the number of clicks from the SERP.
Does clear formatting of the headers (h2s and h3s) help win list featured snippets?
Again the answer is yes!
Google showed the ability to pull list snippets from headers within a page. Typically h2s are pulled as the snippet title and h3s as the list items in the snippet. To win these type of snippets you need to clean up both header format and code.
- Make sure h1 is the post title, h2 is the subheader, and h3 the list items.
- Add a h2 if one doesn't exist.
- Change header list format from '1)' to '1.'
- Remove any unnecessary tags from the headers.
HubSpot then went from winning 0-5% of the featured snippets to winning 10-15%, a significant result, and also benefited from an increase in traffic to the post.
To help Google understand what to use for the featured snippet within your blog posts, make sure you format your headers and add the clear code at the beginning of the blog post to maximise your chances.
How to optimise your content to win snippets!
There are plenty of tools out there to help you identify and optimise for featured snippets. Some are more expensive than others. But there is a way to hunt down featured snippets without spending lots of money.
- Use a keyword research tool to find keywords for which your content is ranked 10 or higher.
- Identify Who, What, When, Where, Why and How queries that relate to your content.
- See if there's a featured snippet already. Do this by opening a new window on incognito and go to the Google search domain you want to win snippets in e.g Google.co.uk or Google.com and search for your keyword.
Add Code and Formatting
Once you have discovered high traffic queries where both your page ranks inside the top 10 and a featured snippet already exists, you need to add the featured snippet code to the top of your page. If a featured snippet isn't present you should still add the code, because if a snippet gets added by Google at a later date, you'll have a better chance of winning the snippet right off the bat! You can also add the code throughout the page or as a FAQ at the end if there is a snippet with multiple queries.
The code does change slightly as to whether you're trying to win a paragraph or a list featured snippet. At the top of your post add this HTML code:
Research and Write Good Original Content
- You don't necessarily need to totally write new content. It's possible to tweak already written content providing it answers the query you are trying to win the snippet for.
- Look at the content that is currently winning the featured snippet. Can you see why they are winning it? Make your content even better...
- Keep it short and sweet. Google has a preference for snippets under 500 words.
- When writing the snippet, make sure you include the keyword you are optimising for in the answering paragraph, and try to include the question in either the title or the h2 section of your content.
- Add a hook to your featured snippet paragraph. You ultimately want people to click through to your content so include something to make them want to read the blog. You can suggest further information on the topic, or offer something related to the query for free.
Your company needs to be able to win snippets to ensure you continue to get traffic to your website. Use the guide above to start optimising your content and blog posts so that Google will choose them for the featured snippets.
To learn more about increasing traffic to your website, start with How Automotive Companies Can Survive The Future.
Thank you HubSpot for providing graphics and research.
You might also be interested in…
About The Tree Group
The Tree Group is a business growth agency and HubSpot Certified Partner that combines sales, marketing, and websites to help Automotive companies with at least 10 staff and a desire to grow by 15% in the next 18 months. Does that sound like you?