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I personally don’t think that it’s necessary to shoot for every Google snippet – certainly don’t compromise the quality of your post in order to get it.
Google snippets are certainly desirable, but rather than designing my post to hit the snippet, I try to stick to a few formatting rules that make it more likely that Google’ll pick my article.
What is a Google snippet?
Google snippets are the little boxes that turn up right at the top of the SERP (search engine results page).
(at this point in writing this post, the word ‘snippet’ has lost all meaning btw)
If you win the snippet, you’re the top result on Google. Result 0, as they call it.
Up until recently, this was highly desirable because if you won the snippet and ranked on the first page of Google, you’d have one page twice the first page of the SERP.
A few months ago the algorithm updated, and now if you win the snippet you’ll only feature once one the first page.
This led a lot people to give up on winning the snippet, since they didn’t feel there was any real benefit.
Why should you aim to get a Google snippet?
It can be an amazing way to highlight your article and drive a lot of traffic. A lot of people, especially those in a rush, just click blindly on the first link they see.
The snippet is usually bolded, and in a little box, so it draws the eye.
According to HubSpot, articles that win the featured snippet have twice the click-through rate than a regular result.
Winning a snippet builds authority – if you’re the top result, you must really know your stuff.
Are there any downsides to getting the Google snippet?
A lot of people that are using Google are after quick results, and because of the way Google picks snippets (more on that later), users may not actually be required to click through to your site.
They’ve used your information, but they have what they need without clicking through.
For example, if you google a question such as ‘what’s the capital of France?’ the answer will come up right on the SERP. You don’t necessarily need to click through to any websites to get further information.
I’m not entirely sure if being at position 0 on the SERP is much better than being position 1 – it must vary quite a lot depending on the search query.
What Google is looking for in a snippet
Whilst you want people to click through to your page, Google isn’t that bothered. Ideally, they want users to stay on Google, and click on an ad.
They’re also trying to provide the best possible result for the user. In short, a snippet needs to fully answer the user’s query in a couple of hundred characters.
Bullet points and short phrases are best.
There’s no definitive answer to how long snippets are, but they’re usually around 160-230 characters. It’s not unusual for that to increase to 320 characters, if the result requires it.
How to structure your blog posts to increase the chances of you winning the snippet
There is a little trick you can do that I learned about from the Income School youtube channel.
At the start of every article, put a little bullet-pointed list of the main points that you covered in answering your question.
(It doesn’t have to be the first thing that you write. I usually put it in somewhere in he first few paragraphs)
At the very least, bold the sections of your article that answer the question as briefly as possible. If a bullet-pointed list isn’t really applicable (it would be a really short list in the ‘what’s the capital of France example), then do a little summary, in bold, that answers the user’s question.
This is great practice even if you’re not that bothered about winning the snippet.
User experience is one of the main ways Google will assess your channel for ranking. If a user can click through to your channel and easily see exactly what the basic answer to their question is, then that’s a great experience.
I know that writing mammoth 3,500-word articles is extremely helpful to many people, but sometimes people just need a quick answer, or they already kind of know what’s going on, but they need a quick confirmation.
I like to check my Google Analytics to check that people are spending a long time on my page, because it’s a good way to tell that you’re keeping people’s attention.
However, it’s equally important to not hold important information hostages to increase your dwell time.
Everyone’s sick of those recipe sites that are 2,000 words of waffle (wheeeeey) and then a 3 line recipe.
It’s why the ‘jump to recipe’ button was invented.
Put the basic information right at the beginning, and save your hilarious anecdotes and helpful tips for the people that have the time.
Final thoughts on getting a Google snippet
I don’t spend a whole lot of time desperately trying to win Google snippets.
Since the last update that limited search results, the SEO gurus are now firmly divided into snippet lovers and haters.
I haven’t picked a camp, but I do like to make sure that I make the basic information super clear and accessible.
The old fashioned blogging rules really encouraged forcing people to stay on your page for longer, and bombarding users with calls to action and such.
As an avid consumer of blogs, I began to resent this. So I don’t do it. I don’t even have an email list for this website, because I have no intention of monetising it beyond ads and affiliate links to my hosting and themes.
If you are after a course that holds your hand all the way through the blogging process, I’d recommend the Income School one.
It puts the focus on on-page SEO, which requires an awful lot of work, but doesn’t rely on begging for backlinks or a Tailwind subscription. If you can’t afford the course, the YouTube channel is really useful.