Position #0 is a desirable place to be.
Reaching position zero in the search results is like being on the front row at a concert – no, even better, it’s like having VIP tickets and dancing on the stage alongside the band.
It’s an exciting and exclusive experience. The VIP that gets you (and you alone) into the absolute best position online and that’s what we call the Featured Snippets.
It puts you ahead of the pack, at the top of Google, in a position where people are more likely to click on your content and pay for your products and services.
Rather than sitting in the (almost, but not quite there) first position, which is the top organic link in the list of returned results, you’ll sit even higher with a dedicated snippet of content linking to your website.
There are many case studies to back up these claims:
They both claim to have seen incredible results. “That’s all well and good” you may be thinking “but how do I get there?”
We’ll get onto that…
Read on for a complete case study giving you the secret to appearing in the Featured Snippets.
4 types of Featured Snippets
These are the four most popular Featured Snippets:
The paragraph is the first and most popular type of Featured Snippet. It contains text, which is usually somewhere between 40-50 words (a snippet of information) and looks like this:
Most snippets will display an image or video on the right side of your text. This is great news for the chosen website as the result is much larger than most organic results, meaning that your content will stand out. However, just because your text is chosen doesn’t guarantee that your image will be too. In fact, a large percentage of images in Featured Snippets are taken from Wikipedia.
Snippets formatted as lists usually contain information that has some order or steps to complete.
They can be presented like this:
Or like this:
The numbered lists usually appear for information that needs to be completed in order, like a recipe. However, bulleted lists appear when there is no order to the list.
Tables are a rare but exciting opportunity to appear in the Featured Snippets. They usually appear when Google is showing a price comparison, several items or data that needs to formatted in rows and columns.
These snippets are so exciting because they are exclusive. Honestly, everyone should be optimizing for table snippets, but they’re not. That’s probably because people don’t go to the effort of formatting the tables on their webpages.
So, if you include a table on your website, make sure it’s formatted correctly.
A Featured Snippet containing a video player usually appears when people search for something related to a movie or song.
Take this example of the search for ‘The fastest car in the world.’
The result is pulled from a YouTube description. It includes a thumbnail, paragraph style description and a link to the video.
Video snippets can also appear in this format, where a video takes up the entire screen. This is a new snippet that Google is testing to promote YouTube.
So, now you know what the different types of Featured Snippets, you can move on to how to steal them from your competitors.
How do you appear in the Featured Snippets?
It’s the million dollar question, of course, is how do I get one of them for my domain?
Here are some facts to get you started:
A big part of this process is ranking in the search results. While Google has previously included snippets from low ranking pages (up to page seven), it’s not very likely.
You have a better chance of being selected if you are ranking in the top 10. Thus, optimizing your content for long-tail, informational searches, otherwise known as low hanging fruit, is doing to work in your favour.
The most popular niches to be found in the snippets are DIY, health and finance. Of course, Featured Snippets are not limited to these niches alone.
Always do your research first as some websites are more likely to appear in the snippets. The likes of Wikipedia will always reign superior in the search results. That’s not to say you shouldn’t attempt to knock them off position zero. It would make one heck of a case study!
Yorkshire, UK, digital marketing agency, Bigfoot Digital, have been tracking their Featured Snippet listings for some time. To date, they appear for 300 Featured Snippets using a proven method of optimization.
They contacted me with the offer to share their secret. Honestly, I don’t always respond to guest post requests – only the good ones! This one certainly had me hooked, so I agreed.
Here’s the process they follow:
Every successful SEO plan starts with keyword research. Featured Snippets are no exception. You are more likely to appear in snippets if you rank highly in the search engines, so it’s a no brainer.
Start with question-based search queries like ‘how, what, why, when’ because they are easier to identify, but don’t stop there.
Target informational search queries, not just questions. According to the Ahrefs study (above), you can see the main trigger of Featured Snippets are long-tail keywords with no questions in them.
It helps to use a keyword tool that gives you the possibility to trigger a Featured Snippet. We use Ahrefs to locate keywords because it combines keyword research with snippet information.
As you can see, the result that takes the Featured Snippet, in this case, also ranks position four in the search results. From this, you can identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.
The low hanging fruit is the keywords you already rank highly for. It’s going to be easier to appear in the Featured Snippets for these keywords with just a little added optimization.
Use Google’s Search Console to see which pages are your top performing ones. Click on “Search Traffic” and then “Search Analytics.”
You won’t need to create new pages. Simply optimize your existing ones using the tactics we’re going to share with you.
A great place to find question-based searches is Google itself. This is especially useful if you are lacking inspiration. Simply, enter your exact match keyword topic, like ‘SEO,’ and it will reveal questions that people frequently ask.
Once you click on a result, it will blow out the list to include even more related searches.
Our approach was to take the most relevant searches from Ahrefs and the Google results and export them into a spreadsheet.
Once you have a list of possible keywords, filter them based on priority. Presumably, the ‘search intent’ keywords are going to be at the top of the list. These keywords are ones that may land your business enquiries, sales and opportunities.
We included sections for the keyword, category, existing snippet and site URL. From there, we set to work optimizing pages using the existing snippet type.
The idea is to take the layout of the current snippet and make your page better.
That brings us onto the next step…
Once you have identified the pages you want to create, it’s time to get creative. Putting up a page on your website does not guarantee top rankings. Your site has to be deemed relevant for that topic.
Our approach was to create a knowledge hub of frequently asked questions about ‘Marketing Funnels,’ so that we appear more relevant for that topic. We had never posted about funnels before, so Google had no reason to consider us. That is, until now!
The critical step here is to link between pages. We’re going to dive a little deeper into on-page optimization in this section, so get ready.
We published one core Funnel Marketing FAQ’s page with all the Featured Snippet questions we want to be found for.
From there, we created an entire page of optimized content for each question. The core FAQ’s page links to each individual page and they, in return, link back to the core page. The link juice is transferred between pages to make them hyper-relevant for the keywords used.
So, that’s the process.
But how do you optimizse the pages?
The average length of a snippet is 45 words, so let that be your guidelines as to how long your content should be. Our advice would be to include the snippet of information under the question you want to answer. So, ‘What is a marketing funnel?’ would be your H2 and your answer would follow.
Google likes to offer factual content, so get to the point and be clear. Use keywords, synonyms and related keywords in the <strong> keyword </strong> code. This will give your content that extra boost.
While your snippet content should be around 45 words, the same can’t be said for your total word count. These days, Google will give preference to long-form content (known as cornerstone content) that offers real value and has subheadings and images to break up content for easy reading. The best part of this is that you can include multiple headings for multiple snippets.
Google seems to love steps, lists and facts. We see it all the time; results featured are those that include ingredients, statistics, data, etc.
When optimizing for a paragraph snippet, follow the same basic principle. You rarely see an opinion as a snippet. Provide a logical answer at all times. Use the H1, H2, H3, H4 hierarchy to order your content in a logical way.
We have found that answer boxes are easier to get featured because Google loves structured data. For these results, use an HTML table. Make sure the table is no more than four columns wide so that important information is not cut off and doesn’t impact CTR.
4) Update your content
The final rule is to keep content fresh. Google likes to see that you never stop working on your online presence.
The saying “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” comes to mind. Okay, not precisely the terminology we were going for, but you catch our drift. If your content is not updated after three or four days, you will lose your place in the Featured Snippets.
That’s the major downside of snippets. All that ranking power comes at a price!
As a rule, we have one member of staff who is dedicated to updating this content on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be major changes. Remember, if your page ranks, there’s a reason for that. Don’t mess when the structure, but make minor tweaks in line with Google’s latest algorithm changes and trends.
Author Bio: This article was produced in collaboration with an award-winning marketing agency, Bigfoot Digital. With over 20 years’ of industry knowledge, they are the go-to guys for anything SEO, Funnel Marketing, Website Design and Social Media.
Don’t you get tired of all these 200 point lists with Google factors?
Let’s be honest. If you’re not a multimillion-dollar company you can’t cover all ranking factors. It’s pointless to even try, you’ll waste your time.
If you focus only on 3 ranking factors, you will see an enormous effect. The 80/20 rule is valid 100% here. I’d even call it the 95/5 rule.
Many online business owners, bloggers, and marketers get obsessed with doing something for each of these 200 points so they can rank their site higher. But they end up seeing just a small boost in SEO after doing a ton of work or realize they’ve invested too much time in unimportant things and have left the factors that really matter behind.
If you have the best content, quality backlinks and users stay on your page and don’t need another source to find more information, there is nobody who can outrank you, even if they’re beating you on the rest 197 factors.
Even the experts at Moz confirmed a long time ago that the 200 point list is a myth, most of the factors are correlation instead of causal, and are often presented just so the final number can look impressive.
Now, what should you focus your SEO efforts on in 2019? Here are the ranking factors that really matter and can do wonders for your website and business.
If there’s one aspect of a website, brand and company that matters online today more than anything else it’s content. That also means content marketing gives the best ROI. It produces 3 times more leads than paid search and more than 70% of online users prefer to learn about a product from an article instead of an ad. In fact, more and more people are using ad blockers and your advertising campaigns might not even reach them.
Your content needs to give the user what they’re looking for. If they’re looking further after seeing your page, it means your content is missing something. Superior content is detailed content, and once optimized well (basic on-page SEO is usually enough), it can rank high and bring you tens of thousands of visitors some time from now.
Your content is the foundation of your online presence and is closely related to outperforming your competitors, getting new leads and increasing revenue.
Too many people hire social media managers, web designers to change the look of their site and brand, or else, but fail to understand that if there’s a budget for outsourcing, it should be invested in creating and distributing superior content.
Content marketing is changing and every next year it becomes more and more important. The very first thing you’d want to do differently in 2019 to make Google love you, to increase your traffic and engage people with your brand, and rank your site higher in the search results, is to create the best content you can.
The type of content you should create can vary. In 2019, blog posts won’t cut it anymore. To reach as many people as you can, give them great information but in different formats.
The second one of the 3 crucial SEO factors that will continue to play a key role in 2019 is the number and quality of your backlinks.
Relevant and authoritative backlinks can be earned in multiple ways as long as it’s naturally, and if you start doing that early on, you’re boosting the time it takes for SEO to work.
The types of backlinks you should be looking for include:
Finding opportunities for backlinks can happen with a tool like Ahrefs or Semrush. These help you analyze the links your competitors have built so you can replicate the process.
Investing in content creation is another thing that can earn you backlinks from authoritative sites. That’s yet another reason to focus more on that in 2019 and create longer, more informative and practical content than your competitors.
There’s another aspect of link building that helps you create the perfect site structure and rank higher – internal linking.
Some experts call internal links the sauce of link building. It’s true because making changes in site architecture through proper link building techniques can do wonders for your rankings and the results are often immediate.
For that, you need to rethink your internal link building strategy, start updating old content, reducing page depth so Google bots can crawl your pages faster, giving a boost from pages performing well to those that can’t earn quality backlinks, and more.
Internal links are also what can help your pillar content get indexed quickly. Don’t forget these help Google and tell search engines what the content is about and bring the spiders to other relevant pages, but they also exist to navigate users through your site and show them relevant content that they would otherwise fail to find.
User experience is another aspect that’s critical for SEO. In a nutshell, this is the combination of actions that aim to keep the user on your website and thus show Google you’re making your visitors happy. In return, people stay on your site longer and search engines send you more traffic.
In 2015, Google confirmed using an algorithm called RankBrain to provide the most relevant results to users. That’s when webmasters realized it’s more important to write for people rather than stuff their content with keywords with the hope that Google will rank them on top for these phrases.
When UX and SEO are done together, your site will grow and you’ll see a massive return on investment.
Here are some of the best practices:
Understanding how website architecture works will be beneficial to ranking higher in 2019 as it affects all the other SEO factors. When done right, you can create a site structure that drives traffic, lets users navigate easily through your site and allow spiders to crawl it fast and frequently.
If you’re launching a new site, make sure to plan your site hierarchy in advance. If your site already exists, you can rethink the structure and make changes to optimize it.
Google now penalizes websites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices and instead works in favor of those that are responsive. If you want to take into consideration this one of the top ranking factors in 2019, make sure you consider the following for the mobile version of your website:
The age of your domain and how long ago the top pages were published also play a role in increasing your rankings. Google favors sites that have been around for a while and new ones need some time to show they are valuable and appear on the first page.
In fact, a study by Ahrefs concluded that the domains ranking at position #1 in the search results are 3 years old.
Follow the other best practices for SEO and know that the older your site gets, the more authoritative it will become and the more trustworthy it will look to search engines and people.
Last but not least, social media still matters for SEO. Social signals are all the shares and likes a web page has received. The higher the number, the better the overall social media visibility, which in turn shows Google that people like your content.
Maybe you’ve been neglecting social media so far or maybe you haven’t given all big social networking sites a chance. In 2019, test different platforms and follow the best practices for it to see if you can build a following, improve your online presence and get traffic.
SEO isn’t about reading long lists of factors and realizing how left behind you are or that you need a budget to rank your site higher. Instead, it’s about providing value on a regular basis with your content and making it interesting and easy to read, thus letting this earn you backlinks, trust and traffic.
Follow the advice above and create a better SEO strategy for 2019.
Guest blogging has two main benefits. First, you get free exposure in front of a new audience, which can lead to many positive consequences, such as new partners, new followers, subscribers, and of course new clients.
Second, you get a link or two to your website. Many people use guest blogging to get backlinks. Guess why? Because backlinks from guest blogging work incredibly well. But there is a downside, too. Guest blogging is a link-building method that requires lots of time, effort, and resources.
1) Spend time researching and finding blogs to reach out to.
2) Find the contact person and their contact details.
3) Reach out to them and propose to write a guest post for their site.
4) Discuss, back and forth, what post topic is okay before agreeing.
5) Write the article, which costs time, or pay your writer to write it, which costs money. If you’re like me, hire a native speaker to edit it.
6) Send them the article and wait.
You should always focus on sites that don’t just look good, but are worth it. So, what should you check for in a site before considering publishing a guest post? If you read my mini guide and follow the 9 steps in it, I promise you that you will focus only on the best blogs.
As you may have already guessed, DA (domain authority) measures the authority of the complete domain. PA (page authority) shows the authority that a certain page of your site has. DA uses 40 different metrics to measure this, including both the number of links to your site, and the number of root domains that link to your site. This particular metric is essentially the total number of other sites with links to yours.
DA is a metric from 1 to 100. When you’re just getting started with a new site it will be with DA 1 because it is still just a baby. The most authoritative sites in the world have the highest DA. Sites like HuffPost, Forbes, and NYTimes are sites that we know well, and such sites have the highest authority.
huffingtonpost.com – 98 DA
forbes.com – 96 DA
nytimes.com – 100 DA
DA is very important. I’ve seen in my experience how a new page ranks well just because it is from a website with high domain authority. This means that if you publish a guest post at a site with high DA, it will have good chances to rank higher in Google.
You want your backlinks to come from sites with high authority because this will help your authority and ranking as well.
You can install the MOZ bar on your browser, which will show you the DA of the site you’re browsing at the moment. Or you can check at Open Site Explorer.
First, because there are many sites with high authority that have no moderation and literately everybody can publish an article. This devalues the power of the backlink you will get. Even though it is easier to publish an article, with no moderation it is not worth the effort.
Second, there are sites with extremely high DA above 60, but they do not get any traffic and are heavily abused with spammy 350 words articles and guest posts for $10, and it is just a matter of time until they get penalized. Usually, people buy expired domains with high DA and then build a new site on it. Then they publish a bunch of crappy posts and sell links until the site gets penalized. Do not bother publishing posts at such sites.
Citation Flow uses the number of sites linked to a URL to predict its potential influence. Trust Flow uses the number of sites considered trustworthy that link to a URL to predict its potential trustworthiness, based on the idea that a confirmed trustworthy site will generally link to another trustworthy site.
A good ratio of TF to CF is 0.50. High ratios indicate very trustworthy sites, while sites with a much higher CF than TF are most likely to host many low-quality links.
Focus on sites with high TF and a good ratio between TF and CF. Sites with high CF but low TF are not worth the effort; skip them and go on.
Go to Alexa and check the site’s world ranking.
This website ranks at 374,417 in the world and 160,139 in the US. Everything with a World Alexa ranking below 600,000 is worth checking further. You can have a quick look on any website’s Alexa ranking if you use SEOquake. It’s a free nifty plugin that shows you data about the website you’re browsing at the moment.
Think about it: If your targeted audience is people from North America, should you publish a guest post at a blog whose traffic comes from South East Asia? Well, the link from this guest post will still be valuable, but if you do not publish many guest posts, you had better focus on what is best for you. As you can see on this photo, 47% of traffic comes from the US, which is a pretty good number if your target is people from the US.
You want blogs that rank well in search engines. But sometimes it’s difficult to guess their targeted keywords.
Check the title tag, h1, check alt tags, and the blog post titles. You can get some clarity about the keywords they’re trying to rank for. Then, just search in Google for these keywords and see if they appear on the search results.
Another option is to try different tools that show you what blogs rank for and how much traffic they get from search engines.
Check their backlink profile. Do they have any spammy backlinks? Or do the links to their sites come from reputable and authoritative sites? Do they have any top notch links and brand mentions from big sites?
Do they allow only author bio links? Do they put nofollow tags?
First, very carefully read their guest posting guidelines page. Then, think if you’re happy with what they allow. In most cases you can get a very good idea if you’re okay with their requirements or not just by reading the guidelines.
But sometimes site owners are unethical and they will publish your post with your link. After a few weeks or months, they will remove the links or will nofollow them. This happened to me a few times.
I published a guest post a few weeks ago. DA of the site is above 70, they get tons of traffic, I like the site and I put time and efforts in creating an article for them. Today I noticed that they removed the backlink.#GuestPost #unethical #FeelsBadMan
— Georgi Todorov (@GeorgiTodorovBG) February 1, 2018
That’s why I suggest you check older guest posts (from 6 months ago and older) to see if the site is playing smart and removing links or adding the nofollow tag later (sometimes it happens).
First, check how many Facebook shares, tweets, Linkedin shares, G+ shares, and any other social signals the latest blog posts are getting. You should share your guest post with your audience, but I think that the host should have their own audience as well.
Second, check if the website is getting comments. Who are the people that are commenting? Are they influencers? If they commented on your post, you have a pretty good chance to start a conversation with them and eventually build a relationship. At the image above you can see that I gave an example with my guest post at Jeff Bullas. Besides the fact that it has 1.5K social shares, it was also noticed by Dona Merril and Ryan Biddulph, both influential bloggers.
Sometimes, you will get positively surprised by blogs that are not huge but have their own true audience. For example, a few weeks ago I published a guest post at Growmap. I was happy to see that people are interested in what I am saying and they find it useful. As you can see up to 2 February 2018, the post has 41 comments. I think that Gail Gardner is doing well leading her tribe at GrowMap.
Find out if the website has social media pages, at least on the biggest social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. Even this is not the most important thing for me. I prefer that the website has a decent following. This will bring some added value for you.
For instance, I am an author at SEMrush. They have a huge following – and every time they share my posts at their platform, they tag me. That’s how their followers sometimes end up engaging with me.
— SEMrush (@semrush) October 21, 2017
Also, every time someone reads any of my posts and shares it, my name automatically displays and I am mentioned in the tweet.
— Shane Barker (@shane_barker) October 12, 2017
These are the basic things I’m looking for when searching for guest posting opportunities. By using my tips, you will be sure to target only blogs that are worth the effort of creating a guest post for.
Do you have any more ideas? I’d like to update this post on a regular basis by adding more information. If you think that I’ve missed something, tweet me your idea @GeorgiTodorovBG.
P.S. Are you freelancing? Check my detailed Upwork guide.