Value of Featured Snippets by Niki Mosier of AgentSync

Bernard Huang

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We hosted Niki Mosier of AgentySync for a discussion on the Value of Featured Snippets.

Yesterday, Google announced AI coming to the search engine results page via what they’re calling Search Generative Experience (SGE).

Niki covers this briefly and what the possible ramifications it will have on SEO. And if it will affect the future of featured snippets.

After discussing Google’s upcoming releases, Niki gives a world class walk through of why featured snippets deserve your attention, common misconceptions, and a strategy you can implement on your websites.

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Check out a copy of Niki’s slide deck here.

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About Niki Mosier:

Niki is the Senior Director of Organic Growth at AgentSync, a SaaS startup, where she has spent the last two years building an SEO/Content program and a team to help support that growth.

Niki's career has included agency and freelance SEO for a variety of clients across various industries. Niki lives in Denver, CO with her partner and dogs.

Follow Niki on LinkedIn:

About AgentSync:

AgentSync builds modern insurance infrastructure that connects carriers, agencies, MGAs, and producers.

Read the transcript

Niki: Well, we will dig in. Yeah, like Travis said, I am Senior Director of Organic Growth at Agents Inc. I also do some freelance SEO consulting on the side. And I recently launched a course called SEO for Non SEOs. The purpose of that is for people in other digital marketing channels or marketing channels that want to have kind of a high level understanding of SEO.

Super excited to be here today and talk to you guys about what featured snippets are, why I think they're valuable. Wanna walk you through what I feel like has been kind of a proven featured snippet strategy and what that should include. And then let you walk away with some items that you can actually start implementing today.

On the cusp of yesterday's Google i o keynote and some of the fun changes that they threw at us that are to come yesterday, I kind of rearranged my slides and moved this feature, feature of featured snippet selection to the start. I think obviously we all need to kind of take a big breath, deep breath.

And there's, there's a lot Google's coming at us with as marketers in the next few months. But that's not new. That's kind of how, how we know Google roles and how I feel like we've come up in, in our careers as marketers. So ready to just take a deep breath. We'll be able to handle the changes.

As far as kind of some of the takeaways that I've seen from Google's presentation yesterday, I personally haven't had a ton of time to dig into all of the recaps and everything. I'm just kind of seeing what a lot of people are seeing on social media. I think as it relates to featured snippets a Elena Solis had a really great tweet this morning kind of talking about what we're going to see in the search results in the next few months as kind of featured snippets on steroids.

Was a good explanation. I think in, in general we're definitely, we've seen changes to featured snippets in the last couple of months already. Google's changed the size of the, the text of featured snippets. We've seen Google bold those featured snippets or highlight those kind of direct answer even with.

In the actual featured snippet itself. So we've definitely seen changes. Obviously these changes are going to be a little more drastic. But so far my biggest takeaway from everything that we've seen from Google in the past couple of days over specifically related to featured snippets is I think the overall strategy that I'm going to talk about later on in this presentation as far as how to optimize for featured snippets is not going to change too much.

What we actually see as the, the output of what a featured snippet. Looks like might change and will change. But what we're, what we need to do on the backend as far as how we're creating content, how we're optimizing that content. I think some of those foundational things are still the same because Google's ultimately still going to want to show that best results, even though kind of how we're getting to that result through through AI kind of interacting in the, in the search results.

Google still needs to pull that content from somewhere and that's the websites that we're working on. So I think I. Tell, that's what I'm telling myself for sure. Just to, to, because this deck was already built. But I think in talking to some other people last night, this morning, that's kind of the general consensus is that obviously some of the things that we, we'll we'll be doing as marketers and specifically as SEOs will change a little bit, but ultimately some of those foundational things will not change.

So calm. That's how I'm calming myself down at least. Kind of previous to yesterday's announcements and things that I've seen interesting that can help in kind of this featured snippet hunt and utilizing new technologies that have popped up in the last few months is utilizing chat G P T. Chris Long over at Gofi, go Phish Digital, posted these prompts on Twitter a couple of months ago.

And it's just kind of a fun thing to play with if you've been playing with chat g p t at all. That gives you some kind of prompts that you can give chat g p t to give you some responses back that you could then use to optimize the content of your. The optimized parts of your content to try to grab a featured snippet.

The output I think can be kind of cool. It can save some time in trying to figure out what that kind of snippet of information that Google wants to see that you should be making sure that you, your content includes at all. As with all things AI generated, definitely take it with a grain of salt, play around with it.

Tweak it. Don't just publish things as is, would be my kind of words of wisdom when it comes to things AI generated. But use it to kind of give you that little li little boost and, and save you some time. If you do wanna play around with some, some prompts and chat. G P T. All of that stuff aside let's dig into what are featured snippets.

For now, featured snippets are what shows up at the very top of the search results. Typically we see these show up before any ads are present or on queries where there are not ads present. However, lately I have been seeing some ads show up before a featured snippet, and I don't know if that's indi indicative of what.

What may be to come with search results, but it's typically not how we've seen things, but kind of how I've been seeing things lately. Features featured snippets are also known as position zero in the search result. They're what we see at the very top of that, that search result. Google's own definition which again will likely change, is that they display feature snippets to help people more easily discover what they're seeking.

Which I think speaks to a lot of the changes that we've seen previously with Google around e a t and wanting to give people the most accurate answer to what they're searching for of feature snippets is a way to do that. The current types of featured snippets that we see most prominently are paragraph featured snippets, which typically show up as the answer for an informational query with Google recently starting to highlight a more direct part of that answer, which I think is interesting to be aware of.

Sometimes we will also see people also ask results show up within a featured snippet. Typically when I see this happen, I will see different responses. D seeing that link come from different sources. So typically if I see a, a paragraph feature snippet, and then also a people also ask featured snippet within that.

The U RL that that content is coming from is coming from two different sources. Featured snippets tend to be paragraph featured snippets tend to be the most prominent type of featured snippets. Making up roughly two thirds of all featured snippets. Coming from a study from the team at Stats Search Analytics.

Another type of featured snippets we see is list featured snippets. We see bulleted list, featured numbered list, featured snippets and bulleted list. And we typically see these when the, the answer to the question is best represented in a list format. So for things that require steps or kind of a, a list of items, And then the other most prominent type of featured snippet is the table featured snippet for more data type queries.

So queries where it makes most sense to re reply to that query with a set of data and showing that in a table typically makes the most sense. There's a lot of debate on whether the answer box is a featured snippet or not. I'm in the camp that technically an answer box is not a featured snippet because the data that Google is pulling in for AnswerBox results are coming from Google's own knowledge base of data versus where featured snippets are coming from an actual website.

Some fun facts I like to call out around featured snippets. Currently, only 19% of CRPS actually have featured snippets, which means there's a lot of greenfield out there for capturing featured snippets. Approximately 77% of. Questions in featured snippet that prompt featured snippets. Start with the word why which we'll touch on a little deeper later on.

This one I think is the most important, at least jumps out to me. The, as the most important 50% of a mobile screen is covered with a featured snippet. So knowing how valuable mobile SERP real estate is because you have such a. Small area of space to grab people's attention. If you have a featured snippet for a query, the fact that it's taking up 50% of a mobile screen of super valuable real estate and 70% of articles that show up in a featured snippet were published no later than two to three years ago.

Which is, I think, an important reminder for keeping content fresh, making sure that updating your content is a part of your content strategy so that you're providing users with the most UpToDate information for a query, which then can increase your chances of getting a future snippet for that query.

So why do we care about featured snippets? Why are they valuable? I think as SEOs and marketers in general, it's really easy for us to get distracted by the next shiny thing chat, G P t and AI definitely being a prime example of that. But there are a lot of things that have been around for a while, like featured snippets that are still incredibly valuable as part of a, a digital marketing strategy.

And for me, I feel like that's, that's kind of what prompted this, this kind of resurgence in wanting to talk about featured exhibits. Obviously one value of featured snippets being that they are in position zero. There is a lot of talk and there's a lot of data, and in case studies around whether actually being in position zero is beneficial or not because it could result in fewer clicks.

I'm under the, under the impression that fewer clicks are not always. Just because you're not getting a click on something does not mean it's not benefiting your brand and your website. One example of that I think that I found is that featured snippets can lead to brand awareness. Since we started tracking monitoring traffic for our branded keyword, so Agents Inc.

Being our main branded keyword, that's our business name we've seen a huge jump in search volume just for our branded keyword, and I can't. 100% say this is directly related to the number of featured snippets that we have. But I think that being in that position zero for a lot of keywords combined with having a lot of ads presence I think makes those things a good recipe for increased brand awareness.

Being in that position zero and having featured snippets can also result in some increased click through rate. For example, a query like this, when did health insurance start? The user is getting part of the answer to the question that they're looking for, but we've seen specifically for this query that there is a decent amount of volume of click.

Per search, around 75% of people that search for this actually click through. And for us, that's coming through likely from that featured snippet. So there are instances where if the user is left wanting more information, by seeing that, getting a taste of that information in the featured snippet, they could be clicking through to a website.

So that theory that being a physician zero leads to fewer clicks, I think is not always right. Another benefit of featured snippets is that they're a quick win or can be a quick win when diving into a new project for a client or maybe you are waiting for some other things to get implemented.

Looking at opportunities for featured snippets could result in some quick wins as far as visibility for the project that you're working on. Daniel Chung posted this on Twitter a few weeks ago. He published some content, brand new content, and within 24, Four hours did see a featured snippet show up.

I think there's obviously, it's kind of that it depends situation on a lot of other factors. Are there already featured snippets for that query? Who has the featured snippet for that query? But it can be done. And even not getting the result in 24 hours, if you can see a featured snippet show up in a couple of weeks, could be a quick win while you're waiting for some other things to happen on a project.

Some other benefits of featured snippets can be share a voice for us on the website that I work on most of the time. We have a ton of featured snippets, whereas most of our competitors have none, which means we're getting more share a voice for our brand and for those industry related searches where our competitors are not showing up in those featured snippets.

Featured snippets can also help build authority, like I alluded to before, showing up in feature. In that position zero. People are seeing you more. They're seeing you before your competitors. The more often you have featured, snippets can help build authority and build credibility with, with your clients and your potential customers.

Another benefit I've seen of feature snippets is the more we show up in featured snippets, the more we also show up in people Also ask results because some of the strategies for optimizing, for featured snippets are also similar to optimizing for people also ask we currently have 365 keywords in people also ask results, and we have about 40 keywords showing up in featured snippets.

And a lot of those keywords, we see a lot of overlap for similar keywords showing up in featured snippet results, and then also variations of those keywords showing up. And people also ask, There's also benefit to other channels. So we've definitely seen an increase in direct traffic as we've gotten more featured snippets.

Again, one of those things that I'm kind of theorizing is a connection, but I feel like could, could be a little bit of a connection because people are seeing us more in that position zero, and then leads to them having that brand recognition and then searching for us directly later on because they have seen us show up in that featured snippet.

Obviously screenshots are great but do actually have some data to back up why I feel like featured snippets are valuable as well. Overall we've seen about 14% of our blog page views come from a URL with a featured snippet. Not a super high number, but a number that I feel that I can get excited about enough.

On average our clickthrough rate is around 1.8% for a top URL with a feta. Snippet, we've seen that click through rate be around 5.8%. I think a little bit of that has to do with how niche our industry is and the fact that typically people aren't getting a cut and dry answer just from our featured snippets.

So again, another reason why trying to get featured snippets for maybe some more niche search terms or long tail search terms could be beneficial because you could increase the chances of getting clickthrough rate from that featured snippet. And then overall, we've seen about 17% of our clicks overall from organic traffic come from a U URL with a featured snippet, which I feel like is a, is a valuable thing for us to focus on.

Actually building out a featured snippet strategy. So being the Mario nerd that I am, I like to kind of equate featured snippets as being kind of like that bonus one up that you get when you're playing Super Mario Brothers. You can do all of the all of the right things to try to make the conditions right for one to appear, but ultimately it's up to Google and up to the Mario Gods when you get that, that bonus.

So just kind of one thing to keep in mind with featured snippets, we obviously can't control when they show up. But we can do everything we can to make the conditions right for one, two, show up. When tackling featured snippets, I like to start with keyword research as most things we typically do in marketing and in SEO specifically, is, is definitely start with keyword research to give ourselves a sense of what, what the landscape looks like.

I use this template super straightforward as, as far as kind of a, a tracking template and kind of a, a way to structure my keyword research when I'm specifically focusing on trying to target featured snippets. I like to start with looking at keywords that are already ranking that my website is already ranking for.

And when I get that list, typically if it's a big site, it's probably going to be a big list. So then I will narrow that list down even further and focus on keywords that are in positions two through five, and typically keywords that have a higher search volume. An example of r e i, where they are already ranking in the top two to five for some of these keywords, two to six for some of these keywords.

And they would be a lot easier lifts to get from position two into position zero versus coming from position like 14. To position zero. So that's why I recommend starting with keywords where you're in, in the range of, of two through five and then also looking at those higher volume search terms because, you know, people are searching for those terms.

So it's likely that Google wants to display a featured snippet for those keywords as well. Focus on question searches when you are doing keyword research. We typically see that queries that start with the six Ws had featured snippets roughly, roughly half the time across both mobile and desktop results.

So really focusing on those question queries, and then more specifically focusing on those why questions as those typically make up a larger percentage of featured snippets. Using tools like even just Google Search Console to filter for queries specifically by question word. You can do this in hf, sub rush, any of the the keyword research tools to break down and really just narrow down on those question queries and work, work on working those into your content or creating new content around those queries.

One website that I feel like really has their featured snippet game nailed is the investing website Investipedia. They currently have over two thou 200,000 featured snippets for a variety of keywords across the space. Obviously a pretty competitive space. There's some big players in that investing space, but they're their strategies.

Seems pretty straightforward. Ask the question, answer the question as far up as close to the top of the content as possible. Seems to be kind of the, the formula they're using across most of their question type content. And getting that that featured snippet, that using that formula has seemed to result in obviously giving a lot of feature snippets for them.

When it comes to actually optimizing for featured snippets I think it's kind of like that again. Another, another Mario reference because I can't help myself, is that it's kind of like having that super mushroom in Mario Brothers. You need to have that kind of foundation built to get other things.

And one of those foundations to getting featured snippets is making sure that you're following SEO best practices. Google, we know, wants to serve users with the best version of content, so, Targeting a featured snippet means that you're also doing all of these things right as well. You have your keyword usage in the appropriate places.

You're not keyword stuffing your content. You're using your keyword in your title tag, in your heading tags and using it thoughtfully throughout your content. You're using relative both relevant internal and external links throughout your content. How your content structure matters which we'll talk about in a minute.

Linking to author pages is one thing that I've definitely seen, gives things a boost. Even just from regular, even just in, in regular search results, not just thinking about featured snippets, but you're building that credibility and that authority with your content, especially with E E A T, something that, that we know Google looks at.

And then using FAQ schema specifically when it makes sense. Obviously we've kind of seen a trend in the last probably month or so of, of FAQs kind of not being as prevalent in the search results. But there's definitely a correlation between schema markup, more specifically F FAQ schema markup and featured snippets.

So utilizing article schema markup and F FAQ schema markup when you can within your featured snippet content. An example of kind of what you need to pay attention to when formatting your content. Looking kind of back at the Investipedia example and the kind of successes that we've seen, making sure that we're using heading tags very explicitly with the questions that we're asking, and then directly after that question, answering the question as.

As succinctly and factually as possible makes it super clear to Google, this is the question, this is the answer. And we've seen that result typically in being directly re, re, re responded to with the featured snippet. Some other things to pay attention to when you're optimizing your content and looking at the content that you want to try and get into.

The feature snippet is typically content with higher engagement rates, so content that you're already seeing, good click through rates on content that converts well. And content where users are spending a lot of time on, on the page with that content typically shows up better in featured snippets because Google already knows that that content is valuable.

They're using the same signals that we look at. To get that content into the feature snippet. Similarly to focusing on content that's already ranking high, making sure that the content that you're focusing on is on page one. Like I mentioned before, if you're starting with a piece of content that you wanna get into a featured snippet, and that piece of content is on page two or page three of Google, it's going to be a lot bigger lift to get that content up there.

But if Google's already showing that piece of content on page one of Google, you know that they're seeing it as a valuable resource. So doing that extra work to kind of boost it up and hopefully get that featured snippet is a lot lighter of a lift than if it's further down in the search results. When you're thinking about either creating new content or optimizing your content for featured snippets making sure that you have search query alignment.

So creating a piece of content around the question, what is an insurance claim? We know that somebody's looking for information with that query. They're not looking for. To purchase an insurance policy. They're not looking for new insurance. It's not a transactional type of query. It's definitely more of an informational query.

So making sure you understand what the search intent is behind the questions that you're asking in your content will, will help you have a better chance of success. Other things to think about with content, structure and formatting. One thing I do like to call out is that featured snippets are kind of the icing on the cake while creating and optimizing content with the goal of getting featured snippets is helpful.

It should never be the, the. Primary goal and reason for creating a piece of content. We always wanna be creating content with our users in mind and creating content that we know is valuable to them. So just creating a piece of content for the sake of answering a question and getting it into a featured snippet, not necessarily something I could, I would recommend.

Again, back to heading tags. So making sure that we're using heading tags in our content. We're using lists, especially with lists being a form of featured snippets. Google really likes the list type of responses and helps break things up and makes your content more readable. Using make anything you can do to make your content readable with heading tags and lists and making it more engaging for users is, is always a, a good idea because it sends those engagement signals to Google.

Again, like I've talked about, making sure that you're asking and answering that question in a very clear and succinct way. Being factual within your content. We know more and more important every day that Google wants to present users with the answer to their query. That's the most factual. So anytime you can provide source data or any or why those author pages are helpful, anything you can do to show Google that your content is the most factual answer will only help.

Help things. Answer related questions within your content. We know that Google help likes to make connections between different types of search queries. So when it, like for this example what is an insurance solicitor? We're also talking about what is an insurance consultant, because the two are very much related and it wouldn't necessarily make a lot of sense to create an entirely separate piece of content around what's an insurance consultant when we already have a very similar piece of content.

So, Answering related questions within one piece of content can help you potentially capture multiple featured snippets as well. Use images within your content. Google shows images a lot in the featured snippet, and typically we see the image come from a different URL than we see the actual paragraph or list featured snippet coming from.

So using images helps break up your content, make sure content, more engagable, more engaging for your readers and you have the, the potential to actually get a featured snippet for that image. If you do, don't grab it for your content. Some things I like to call out when it comes to actually winning featured snippets.

Obviously you need tools to be able to tell you kind of what things look like outside of just spending time in the search results. Both H refs and some rush. And stat do a really good job of breaking down what URLs have featured snippets how. Stat, especially if you have been using them for a while, you can get really good historical data around featured snippets.

I don't have a preference. I think all tools do it in a slightly different way, but do it really well. But using a tool like that to help you get a sense of not only what your featured snippets are, but also what competitors' featured snippets are. Typically when a URLs in a future just snip it, it also gets a tracking parameter added or parameter added to it which takes you to the exact answer in that piece of content.

You can then filter for this parameter in Google Analytics or Google Search Console, which will help give you a really clear picture of who's coming to your site from those featured snippets, which helps justify the work that you're doing. One way or another. Other thing, like I've mentioned, make sure that you're focusing on those page one keywords when you are figuring out what key, what your featured snippets strategy will look like.

Utilize featured, utilize competitors as an opportunity for your featured snippets. Competitors can be a low hanging fruit when you're figuring out where to start when you are. Wanting to gain some featured snippets. If a competitor already has a featured snippet for a keyword, we know that Google's already decided that that query makes sense to have a featured snippet for.

So then it can be really easy to kind of see what the competitor's doing and then just do that better to try and increase the chances of getting the featured snippet and taking it away from your competitor. And as I said before, make sure that you're checking all of those SEO best practice boxes.

Without those strong foundations in place, it's going to be a lot harder to get featured snippets because Google wants to give users the best answer possible. So making sure that, that, that you're making sure that all those boxes are checked. And last couple takeaways. Feature snippets can be incredibly valuable for brand awareness.

If you haven't started to look at the correlation between your brand ERPs and featured snippets, think about the impact on brand awareness. They can be a, a quick win if you're looking for something to try to gain, gain traction with a project. And lastly, use keyword research as the foundation for your plan.

Thank you guys so much. Here's where you can find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, or my website and we can dig into some questions.

Travis: Awesome. Yeah, thanks for that Nicki. That was fantastic. And it's recap. We got a couple questions. We are recording this and we'll send out recording tomorrow. And the recap email.

But to kick it off with the questions, and remember you dropped the questions in the q and a box for Zoom. But to kick it off, what would be kinda going back to the competitor slide, you just kind of recapped, what would be a strategy for winning a feature snippet back? So say like your, you had a spot for a couple weeks and then your competitor came in and took it away from you.

How would you approach getting it back?

Niki: Yeah, that's a great question. I think one thing I would definitely do is look at the last time you updated the content that was in that featured snippet. So it's possible that the competitor maybe made a content update more recently. If you're not telling Google explicitly in the top of your content, like.

You have the published date, but I think it's also important to have an updated on date as well, so Google knows when that content was updated and making sure that that's getting reflected in your site map as well. So starting there and optimizing updating your content and also obviously paying attention to what the, what the competitor did in their content as well.

Travis: Makes a lot of sense. And then yeah, killer just sent it. Question. Do you have any advice for how to get PDPs on position zero? Could these be included in the feature snippets if you have an FAQ section?

Niki: That's a good question. Typically I've seen. Content show up in feature snippets when the question is specifically asked within the content versus if it's in an FAQ section because Google wants to guide people to something that's going to give them kind of more, more full information.

Like a, like an an ar a full article or piece of content that way. It, I think it kind of, unfortunately, it depends on what. What the SERP looks like for that keyword. If it's not a very crowded serp, then I think Google's probably gonna be a little less picky on whether it's coming from an F FAQ section or a piece of content.

But that could give you an easy opportunity to create more content by taking some of your FAQs and turning them into kind of like 1 0 1 type of content on your website as well. Makes sense.

Travis: And then, Can you still win a featured snippet when you're on page one, but a lower position, say eight, nine, or 10?

Or do you need to be at the top of the first page? Maybe like position one through three?

Niki: Yeah, I think you definitely can get there. I feel like it's just a little bit of a bigger lift and might, might take more patience and might take being more, being as explicit as possible. And obviously depends on who already has the featured snippet, if there is one for that query.

If there is a featured snippet for that query already, I feel like it's probably a little easier to move up into that space versus if you're just in page on. Position, like eight or nine for a random query where Google hasn't decided it's important for there to be a feature snippet. That's where I feel like it would probably be a bigger lift.

Travis: Awesome. And then this might be the last question, but how would you suggest adding the kind of, what is question for the feature snippet. When you have a table of contents in the post, would you place the what is answer above the table of contents or does it matter?

Niki: I think it's okay to keep it below the table of contents but just making sure that you're marking up that, that, that content with with the FAQ schema definitely gives, it, helps give it that boost.

But I think the table of contents is super important, especially when you have a piece of long form content. And that I feel like takes precedence over the position of that, that question.

Travis: Awesome. Awesome. That's super helpful. Cool. Yeah, we're getting some good notes. Everybody appreciated your time today.

Put any last parting words before we give everyone their day back. Now, before we

Niki: wrap this up, don't forget to share, like, and subscribe so you don't miss out on more great content from the industry's best SEOs. Content marketers and content strategists. The Clear Scope webinar series happens every week and helps SEO content creators of all skill levels advance their knowledge.

Hope to see you tune in next time.

Written by
Bernard Huang
Co-founder of Clearscope
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