How to grab featured snippet rankings with zero link building effort

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July 12, 2019 11:00 am

how to grab featured snippets with no link building

Featured snippets, also known as “position zero” placements on Google, have been receiving their fair share of glory and blame lately. 

While some big corporations like Forbes went ahead and questioned if Google is stealing traffic with the featured snippet, content creators like me have found it easy to get more traffic, thanks to being able to rank small sites on a featured snippet.

This post will give you a brief idea on how you can rank a page on Google’s featured snippet — without building any links to that page.

Understand the types

There are three major types of featured snippets that you can go for. As most of our clients are bloggers, we tend to go for either the paragraph snippets or the list snippets. Table snippet is another popular one that you can target.

Here’s a quick graph from Ahrefs about the snippet type and their percentages.

graph about the snippet type and their percentages

Targeting the right keywords

Once you finalize the type of snippet that you would want to go for, it is time to dig deep into your keyword research to find keywords that suit your blog and match the requirements for the type of snippet that you are going after.

If you are going for a paragraph snippet, you will have to find keywords that are primarily related to these types:

  • How to
  • Who/what/why

example of finding keywords on snippets

If you are trying to rank for a numeric list (numbered list or bullet points), the idea would be to structure your content in a way so that it offers step by step guides to someone. As per our experience, Google only shows a numeric list on featured snippet when the keyword tells Google that the searcher is looking for a list.

example of a listed featured snippet

For table snippets, the idea is to have structured schema data on your website that compares at least two sets of data on the page. You don’t really have to have a properly formatted column-based table to be able to rank for table snippets as long as the comparison and the schema is there.

example of a table structured snippet

Understanding the type and targeting the right keywords will do more than half of the job for you when it comes to ranking your website on the featured snippet with zero links.

However, you are not going to win the battle by out-throwing an already existing featured snippet. This will only work for keywords that don’t already have a featured snippet ranking on Google.

To grab featured snippets from the existing competition, you will need to go ahead and perform a few more steps.

Copying your competitor

Some will call it “being inspired”, but essentially, what you are doing is copying the structure of an existing featured snippet article and trying to make it better (both with content and if possible, with links).

What do I mean when I say, copying the structure of an existing page and making it better? If you want to rank for the featured snippet for the keyword “best cat food brands” and if the one, ranking at this moment already has a list of 20, you will have to create a list of 25, in the exact same format that the current one is using.

Once that’s done, the final step is simply to make sure you have proper schema on the page.

Note: It is very unlikely that this method will help you outrank an existing featured snippet unless you also rank in the top ten for that keyword.

How do we find keywords for featured snippets?

As you can imagine, finding the right keyword to target is winning half of the battle when it comes to ranking on featured snippets.

I use Semrush, but feel free to use your own tools. Here’s what our agency’s process looks like.

Let’s assume, for the purpose of this article, that I run a pet blog and I am interested in ranking for multiple featured snippets.

I would go to Semrush, and put one of my competitors on search.

example of competitor research on semrush

Source: semrush

Now click on “Organic Research”, select positions and from advanced filters, select – Include > Search features > featured snippet.

example of organic research

Source: semrush

This will give you a huge list of keywords that are currently ranking as featured snippets. As you can see, we found about 231 opportunities to target here:

listing of potential keywords for targeting

Source: semrush

It is time to add another condition to our advanced filters. Let’s select include > words count > greater than five. Here’s what the new result looks like:

example of using advanced filters in semrush

Source: SEMrush

From here on, simply organize the keywords by volume and then select the ones that you think matches with your target market. Like any keyword research, you will have to find keywords that have low competition and moderate search volume. Personally, I would try to go for keywords that have less than 500 monthly searches.

Make sure that you are following the initial three steps that we discussed. You will almost always have a higher chance of ranking on featured snippet following this strategy.

Khalid Farhan blogs about internet marketing at KhalidFarhan.com. He can be found on Twitter @iamkhalidfarhan.

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