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How to boost your odds for Google's Featured Snippet box

How to boost your odds for Google's Featured Snippet box Melissa Duko

Ever notice when you do a Google search that you also get a box of handy summarized info at the top? That's Google's Featured Snippet box.

Advertisers who appear in the Featured Snippet box on average see a 114 percent increase in CTR for high traffic keywords. And its increased visibility gives many advertisers significantly improved organic performance, as much as 516 percent increase in sessions. No wonder so many advertisers want in "the box."

Unfortunately, where you rank on page one has little influence on whether you end up in the box, as HubSpot discovered. But there are four simple things you can do to increase the odds of your content appearing.

Identify complex questions

While you may be tempted to gear your content toward common questions, don't. Simple questions like "how to bake bread" or "how to change a tire" are already inundated with responses, decreasing your odds of ever making it to the Featured Snippet box.

When crafting your content, you need to write for complex questions. Complex questions will allow you the opportunity to provide unique, in depth responses that will help you stand out from the competition.

To identify potential complex questions related to your particular niche:

Do keyword research.
BrightEdge is a great tool you can use to research relevant industry-related keywords and queries. When researching, be sure to include keywords like "how," "why," and "where." 

Google Search Console is another great way to search snippets to see what your competitors are featuring. And don't hesitate to knock those competitors "out of the box" by hijacking their snippets.

Investigate questions people are asking.
Using your keyword results, investigate the kinds of questions people are asking. SerpStat is a great tool that pulls Google Suggest phrases based on your chosen keyword. Be sure to select the "only questions" filter.

Write logical answers

Once you have your complex question, it's time to craft a logical response. No need for flowery prose, just stick to the facts. In essence, write like a reporter. Why? Longer text will automatically throw you out of the running.

Google sources for "how" and "why" responses to complex queries. And they specifically look for answers that fall under 64 words (with a sweet spot between 54-58 words). So, to rise above the competition, make sure your content follows that format.

Here, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company answers a query: "How to cut grass." Their brief content (approximately 47 words) provides common sense tips on how to mow your lawn.

Notice within the snippet, they optimized their content by including a variation on the question "How to Properly Mow Your Lawn," as well as variations of the keyword "mow" within the content (mow, mowing, cut, and cutting). This increases their odds of popping up in searches.

Add value

Offer added value by providing information that's beyond the direct answer. Readers will appreciate the extra tidbits of information, and they may just click-through to see what other insight you have to offer.

Also consider having your URL reflect your content, as well. Here, Bose's URL is "Pairing with your Bluetooth device (video included) - Bose." And the URL indicates there's a video, too. Without it, readers wouldn't have known they have also a video option.

The more value you provide your readers, the more likely they'll be to leave you a favorable review with Google, too.

Try the seven-minute formula

Google Snippet box competition is fierce, but don't get discouraged. If you're still not getting placed, or not as often as you'd like, consider using Joe Kelly's "Seven Minutes to a Featured Snippet" formula. After 17 weeks of waiting for his post to crawl up the rankings, Kelly found himself cracking the elusive code.

Using high volume keywords, he:

  • Added an H1 text format that addressed the question.
  • Directly answered the question with a numbered list.
  • Made the numbered list a shortcut menu to jump to specific headings and other details.
  • Hit republish.

Kelly's process took just seven minutes. Two hours later when he checked, his new content was in the Google Featured Snippet box. And so the "Seven Minute Formula" was born.

So to sum it up, use an exact-match heading at the beginning and an explicit short list or two sentence answer. Hopefully once you hit republish, you'll be "in the box."

Conclusion

Google's Featured Snippet box is still an unraveling mystery, with some advertisers questioning if being in the box is a blessing or a curse. Some advertisers have found a decrease in traffic due to placement, particularly on mobile devices. If mobile ads are your bread and butter, you may be tempted to opt out of snippets, but don't. Opting out means you won't be able to see any snippets, which means you can't keep tabs on the competition either.

On the flip side, Featured Snippet boxes build brand awareness and authority, and for some they increase traffic. Weigh the pros and cons for your company to determine if placement is right for you. And should you decide to shoot for the stars, write straightforward tips formatted as "how" and "why" content to significantly increase your chances of landing in the box.

Melissa Duko is currently the Editor and Content Writer for eZanga.com. She’s a graduate of both the University of Delaware and Towson University, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English (technical writing) and a Master of Science in...

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