Google’s featured snippets have been around for a while. These are the short extracts from a web page presented at the top of search results that Google has judged to be the best quick answer to a search query.

Last year, the search engine announced that a new algorithm will be updating snippets more regularly to help keep the information up-to-date, especially for more time-sensitive topics. This means there are more opportunities to get your page featured – but also more chances to lose that coveted spot.

If you’re not already writing your content with a view to snagging featured snippets, here’s your starter guide.

Why are featured snippets important?

Featured snippets are a major concern for SEO in 2020, as they come above the search results themselves – so being ‘number one on Google’ isn’t the objective it used to be.

Snippets can be pulled from any website on the top results page that Google’s algorithm decides has the most relevant and easily digestible answer to the search term. While Google used to display both the snippet and the entry for the website it came from, since 2020 the regular search result no longer shows to avoid duplication.

If you’re not sure exactly what featured snippets are, try a few searches and see what comes up. While some sites are lucky to be rewarded with a snippet, many companies and bloggers now tailor their writing style with the specific aim of being featured for different search terms.

Featured snippet for social media

How to write featured snippets

Featured snippets may be a short paragraph of text, a list of items or a table with relevant information. To improve the chance that your site is deemed snippet-worthy, keep the following in mind when writing copy for web pages and blog pots:

  • Target keywords that you already rank for and that already produce a featured snippet on Google
  • Check for eligible keywords using tools such as Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, if needed
  • Write sections of 40 to 60 words in length (the optimal length according to SEMrush)
  • Include the most important detail first that directly answers the targeted search query
  • Use proper formatting or tags for subheadings, bulleted or numbered lists and tables

Local snippets

It’s not only featured snippets that are stealing clicks from organic search results. When you search for a type of business or service, you may be presented with a wealth of information, including a map and contact details for companies in your area.

To improve the chance of your business showing up ahead of the competition, you need to work on your local SEO. Some good first steps are:

  • Sign up to Google My Business and optimise your page
  • Claim your Google Map listing
  • Make sure your business details are consistent across all sites
  • Ask satisfied customers or clients to leave feedback on review sites
  • Target location-based search terms on your pages

Google gives a boost to local SEO, so with a well-optimised site, it’s possible to outrank the big brands for certain search terms, especially if you include your location.