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How Google Snippets Work
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Google Snippets are among leading developments in the world of search engine optimization (SEO). Odds are good you’ve seen them, perhaps without even realizing it. But what exactly are featured snippets, and how can you leverage them to improve the position of your website in the search engine results page (SERP)? Today our team of experts is here to help you get a clearer picture of what snippets can do for you.

Defining Snippets

Featured snippets are Google’s way of providing users with an answer that doesn’t require any further action. A featured snippet appears first on the SERP, below paid ads but above the organically top-ranked page, though a featured snippet isn’t always from the number one search result. Instead, the blurb featured at the top of the SERP is the one Google’s algorithm finds best answers the search query.

Snippets appear in various formats, as text paragraphs, lists, or tables, depending on the sort of information that is being displayed. There are also snippets which link directly to videos or images. There are other types of information that show up in the top of the SERP, including:

  • People also ask: a list of related questions that show up as a drop-down menu, often appearing when there isn’t a featured snippet that directly matches the query, but there is one for a similar or related question;
  • Quick answers: appear as a tool, such as a calculator, weather widget, dictionary, conversion table, game score, or another answer to a very specific type of question;
  • Carousels: appear when there are numerous potential answers to a specific query like “best imaging software” where the answer could be subjective and there are multiple vendors providing plenty of rich content;
  • News: appears when the query could be answered by a variety of verifiable news sources; and,
  • Knowledge cards: appear when the search can be answered by a local expert, business, or map.

For any given query, various snippets may appear in any combination. Most importantly, these snippets are going to appear above normal results within the SERP.

Leveraging Snippets

Now let’s talk about how you use this understanding to your advantage. The most important thing to do is acknowledge that you need to be including well-crafted snippets as part of your SEO routine. This doesn’t have to be difficult, but takes effort on your part. We recommend you follow this four-step plan to reach out and grab the featured snippets most relevant to your keywords:

  1. Never Stop Optimizing: it’s true that a featured snippet will fall above the top-ranking page in the SERP, but don’t assume that’s a shortcut to the top of the charts. The majority of snippets are pulled from the pages in the top ten, so you’ll still need to practice good SEO to be in with a shout of that snippet spot;
  2. Format Wisely: in addition to maximizing your SEO, using solid, clean formatting for your content will win more featured snippets than keywords alone;
  3. Add Fresh Content: the best way to snag a featured snippet on the SERP is to use your target keywords, plug them into Google and see whether featured snippets already exist for them. Then get writing, add new content with a solid H1/H2/H3 or list structure, optimize it for keywording and let the spiders do the walking;
  4. Be Realistic: understand that every snippet won’t drive traffic, but if you work to create featured snippets for your selected keywords, and craft them with a thoughtful hook, you are more likely to convert the featured snippet exposure into real web traffic.

Hopefully, this quick-and-dirty guide to understanding Google’s snippets gives you and your team a solid starting point for making the most of your SEO efforts. Happy snippet making.

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