The Power of “Is”: A Featured Snippet Case Study

I’m not a literary scholar, however I consider it was Hamlet that mentioned “to have a featured snippet or not to have a featured snippet?” Ever since featured snippets got here onto the scene, websites have been attempting to safe them.

My staff and I wished in on this craze. Throughout our journey of analysis, testing, failure, and success, we discovered some attention-grabbing items of info that we wished to share with the group. I’ll stroll you thru what we did and present you some of our outcomes (although can’t share visitors numbers).

It was Britney Muller’s webinar on Feature Snippet Essentials and the discharge of the featured snippets cheat sheet that impressed me to seize what we have discovered.

What are featured snippets?

A featured snippet is the field that seems on the prime of the search end result web page that gives info to succinctly and precisely reply your question and cites a web site.

Why are featured snippets necessary?

A featured snippet is necessary as a result of it represents an extra SERP function which you could safe. Usually situated on the very prime of the outcomes web page, featured snippets give you larger visibility to searchers and might increase model recognition.

Our featured snippet plan of assault

  1. Research, analysis, and extra analysis on learn how to pull this off
  2. Identify key phrases we wished to focus on
  3. Change how we structured our on-page content material
  4. Measure, check, and repeat the method

1. Research, analysis, and extra analysis

We spent an ideal deal of time researching featured snippets. We checked out alternative ways to search out featured snippet alternatives and researched learn how to optimize our content material for them. We additionally went and noticed Kellie Gibson communicate on featured snippets volatility.

Did we implement every thing from what we discovered throughout this discovery section into our featured snippet technique? No. Are we excellent at it now after a 12 months and a half of practising this? No, no, no. We are getting higher at it, although.

2. Identify key phrases we wished to focus on

We initially began out specializing in massive “head” key phrases. These represented phrases that had indeterminate searcher intent. The first head time period that we targeted on was HRIS. It stands for Human Resources Information System — attractive, proper?

Note: Looking again on this, I want we had targeted on longer tail key phrases when testing out this technique. It’s attainable we may have refined our course of sooner specializing in lengthy tail key phrases as an alternative of the big head phrases.

three. Change how we construction our on-page content material

We labored intently with our writing staff to replace how we lay out content material on our weblog. We modified how we used H2s, H3s (we truly used them now!), lists, and so forth to assist make our content material simpler to learn for each customers and robots.

In most of the content material the place we’re attempting to rank for a featured snippet, we’ve got an H2 within the kind of a query. Immediately after the H2, we try to reply that query. We’ve discovered this to be extremely profitable (see photos in a while within the submit). I want I may say that we discovered this tactic on our first attempt, nevertheless it took a number of months earlier than this dawned on us.

four. Measure, check, and repeat

The first weblog submit that we tried this out on was our “What is an HRIS” article. Overall, this submit was successful, it ranked for the pinnacle time period that we have been going for (HRIS), however we didn’t win a featured snippet. We deemed it a slight failure and went again to work.

This is the place the enjoyable began.

Featured snippet successes

We found a featured snippet set off that we may capitalize on — primarily accidentally. What was it?


Really. That was it. Just by including that to some of our content material, we began to choose up featured snippets. We began to do it an increasing number of, and we have been profitable an increasing number of featured snippets! I consider it was this strategic HR instance that clued us onto the “is” set off.

So we stored it up.

Featured snippet won for "employee orientation"
Featured snippet won for "hr business partner"
Featured snippet won for "employee development plan"

What did we be taught?

I need to preface this by saying that every one of that is anecdotal proof. We haven’t checked out a number of million URLs, run it via any fancy number-crunching, or had a statistician have a look at the info. These are only a few examples that we’ve seen that, when repeated, have labored for us.

  1. Blog/HR glossary – We discovered that it was simpler for us to realize featured snippets from our weblog or our glossary pages. It appeared like it doesn’t matter what optimizations that we made on the product web page, we weren’t in a position to make it occur.
  2. Is – No, not the clown from the Stephen King novel. “Is” gave the impression to be the massive set off phrase for profitable featured snippets. During our audit, we did discover some examples of checklist featured snippets, however the majority have been paragraphs and the set off phrase was “is.”
  3. Definitions – We noticed that definitions of the pinnacle time period we have been attempting to go for was often what obtained the definition. Our on-page copy would have the H2 with the key phrase (e.g. What is Employee Orientation?) after which the paragraph copy would reply that query.
  4. Updating outdated posts – One stunning factor we discovered is that once we went again to outdated posts and tried including the “is” set off phrase, we didn’t see a change — even when we added an excellent quantity of new content material to the web page. We have been solely in a position to seize featured snippets with new content material that we created. Also, once we up to date massive quantities of content material on a couple of pages that had featured snippets, we misplaced them. We made certain to not contact the sections of the web page that the snippet was pulling from, however we nonetheless misplaced the snippet (some have come again, however some are nonetheless gone).


A few closing issues to notice:

  1. First, whereas these examples are anecdotal, I believe that they present some practices that anybody eager to seize featured snippets can do. 
  2. Second, this was course of was over a 12–18 month interval and we’re nonetheless evolving what we expect is one of the best ways for us and our content material staff. 
  3. Third, we had loads of failures with this. I confirmed you one instance, however we’ve had many (short-form content material, long-form content material, glossary phrases, weblog posts, and so forth.) that didn’t work. We simply stored measuring, testing, and optimizing. 
  4. Lastly, I would like to offer a shout out to our writing staff. We massively disrupted their course of with this they usually have been phenomenal to work with (efficient interdepartmental relationships are essential for any website positioning mission).

Let me know what’s labored for you or when you have any questions by leaving a remark down under.

Note: On January 23, 2020 Google introduced that featured snippets would not be listed twice on the primary web page. For extra info, you possibly can take a look at this thread from Google Search Liaison. This could change how helpful featured snippets are to firms and the quantity of clicks an inventory will get. Before you begin to panic, keep in mind will probably be necessary to observe and measure how this impacts your website earlier than doing something drastic. If you do determine to go nuclear and to take away your featured snippets from the outcomes, take a look at this documentation.

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