Google Featured Snippets: Short answers for Who, What, When, Where, Why, How and Is

Recently I have been picking up extra web traffic with Google Featured Snippets. Below is what I learned so far about them and simple steps you can follow for adding them to your website.

What Are Featured Snippets?

Google uses Featured Snippets to provide a short quick answer for Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How type searches. These answers show at the very top of the Google Search Results, above the organic search results. The Featured Snippets includes a link back to the web page that provided the answers.

What Do Featured Snippets Look like?

Here is what my Featured Snippet for Is Jefferson Notch Road Open?looks like in Google’s Search Results:

Featured Snippet: Is Jefferson Notch Road Open?

Who Should Add Featured Snippets To Their Website?

You should add Featured Snippets to your website, if you know the short answer to questions people are asking Google. Use your Google Search Console to see what questions people are asking. More on that below.

When Does Google Show Featured Snippets?

Google shows Featured Snippets for questions that only need a short answer, AND! it can find a short answer. Many searches in Google are perfect for Feature Snippets but Google does not have the answer. That’s where you come in.

Where Does Google Show Featured Snippets?

Google shows Featured Snippets are the top of the search results page, before everything else. That is why they are so great for SEO. Links at the top of the search results page get clicked more than any others.  

Why Does Google Show Featured Snippets?

Google shows Featured Snippets because finding an answer quickly make users happy. That’s why we use Google. When you search for “When is …” or “Why do …” you probably don’t want to read a big long web page. Google knows you will be happier when you get a short answer straight away.

How Can I Take Advantage Of Featured Snippets?

Here is how I do it:

  1. In your Google Search Console, filter the queries by one page.  Then sort the listing by Impressions Descending. More impressions mean more potential traffic. Next set the listing to show up to 500 rows. If you have lots of queries, choose “export” near the top right side of the page to open the results in Google Sheets.  
  2. Work your way down the list. Review any queries that contain the word: Who, What, When, Where, Why, or How, or Is.  If you are using Google Sheets, you can run my Apps Script to highlight all queries you should review.
function candidate_for_snippet(){
    var spreadsheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActive();
    var sheet = spreadsheet.getActiveSheet();
    var range = sheet.getDataRange();
    var col = 1;
    var match = '(who|what|when|where|why|how|is)';
    for (var row = 1; row < range.getNumRows()+1; row++) {
        var regex = new RegExp(match,'i');
        if (regex.test(range.getCell(row,col).getValue())) {                                  
           range.getCell(row,col).setBackground("yellow").setFontWeight('bold');
        }        
    }
};

What this script does is read row by row down column 1 (aka column A). When it finds a cell that matches (who|what|when|where|why|how|is) it sets the background color to yellow, and the font to bold. This will save you time reviewing the rows.

  1. If you can answer the question directly with a short answer this is the perfect candidate for a Featured Snippet. 
  2. Add the question and your short answer to your web page:
    • Find a place in your content where it makes sense to answer the question.
    • Paste in the question. Keep the wording as close to the original search query as possible. If you change the wording significantly, Google might not use it.
    • Enter your short answer immediately after the question. Keep the answer to a sentence or two. Include in your answer the topic or subject of the original question.
    • I formatted my question and short answer in paragraph form. Each in a paragraph by themselves. I have only been developing Featured Snippets for a few months, so this recommendation may change. Isolating the question and answer this way should help Google knew the one sentence answer was all it needed for the snippet. Other HTML structures should work as well, but this is what I did:
<p>
    <b>Is Jefferson Notch Road Open?</b>
    <br><b><i>No</i></b>, Jefferson Notch Road has been reported as Closed.
</p>

Here is what the 4 snippet looks like on my Jefferson Notch Road page:

  1. After you modify the page, go into your Google Search Console and submit the page to be re-indexed. It may take a few days before google picks up the changes.
  2. The Feature Snippet will not show up right away. This answer for Is Jefferson Notch Road Open?took more than 80 days to show up in the search results.
Featured Snippet: Is Jefferson Notch Road Open?

Published by

Kimball

Kimball is a website designer and developer in Goffstown, NH.

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