A.J. Ghergich

On-Page Boot Camp: How To Win The Featured Snippet

In the first video of the On-Page Boot Camp series, A.J. Ghergich showed us how he uses SEMrush to find the most profitable keywords and use them for quick SEO wins. His step-by-step approach proved successful for his clients and is very easy to adopt.

In the second video, A.J. is going to reveal the secret of getting into the featured snippet — one of the most popular features on Google's first page of search results. — SEMrush Team.  

Video Transcription

Hey SEMrushers, A.J. Ghergich here, founder of Ghergich & Co. I am here for video number two in our series — Featured Snippets and You. My goal is to show you very quickly how I use SEMrush to find potential featured snippet targets very easily and go about earning them. And I am hopeful that some of you will be able to earn some featured snippets within a week and report back to us about your success. Let’s dive in.

Find the Opportunity

Alright, so let’s earn some featured snippets. The main thing you need to know about featured snippets is that you must rank in the top ten in order to earn a featured snippet.

Step 1. Check Your Organic Positions

So, what you are going to do, right off the bat, is head over to SEMrush and check your organic positions for your domain. In this case, we are using the example site energizer.com.

You can see they have 30,000 keywords, and of course, you want to filter that down. These are two simple filters that you’re going to want to use. The first is just telling SEMrush 'Only show me top ten keywords’, because, again, you have to be on the top ten to rank to earn a featured snippet.

And then, you are going to use one of my favorite filters — the SERP features filter, which is phenomenal. There are all kinds of awesome options you should play around with it for sure. But in this case, of course, we are just going to select ‘Featured snippet’.

When you apply that, what you are going to see is all these top ten rankings, where Google shows a featured snippet. What I am looking for is something I can to drill down into further, and you can see this kind of group: ‘recycle’, ‘how to recycle’, ‘where to recycle’, ‘when can I recycle’, etc. You can see that they rank great for 'recycling'.

Step 2. Find the Target Keywords

Once I find something like that, I head over to my new favorite tool, which is Keyword Magic. This Keyword Magic tool is phenomenal: You’re going to love it.

I entered in a seed keyword, which is ‘recycle batteries’, and leave it as a broad match, and that’s so I could get ‘batteries’ and ‘battery’ in the results. You can include keywords and exclude keywords. I find that very helpful for brands. And you can do all kinds of sorting. I did a little bit of sorting with volume, and a little bit with cost-per-click. And again, you are want to select ‘Featured snippet’.

What this is doing is kind of doubling down on this recycling category for us. These aren’t keywords that Energizer ranks for, necessarily, but this is kind of like all the keywords that SEMrush knows about, that are also displaying featured snippets that are related to ‘recycling batteries’. So it’s a really cool tool, and there are all kinds of fun ways that you can play with it.

In this case, let’s narrow this down to get really specific. I put in that it ‘has to include’ the keyword ‘how’ and we see ‘how to recycle batteries’, which would be a great search result.

Hey, sorry for the interruption! Future A.J. here. While I was recording this, SEMrush came out with some really cool new features around questions. This allows you to just tap a button and see all the questions that have featured snippets inside of that set you’re looking for. Very helpful, awesome little upgrade.

So let’s go check that out. How to recycle batteries.

Yup. There is a featured snippet there. Unfortunately, Energizer doesn’t own it. But they are in a great position — they’re in position two. So they could earn this featured snippet and take it away from a competitor’s domain. That would be one that I would definitely put into the content calendar as a goal. Like, let’s earn this featured snippet.

Once I’ve decided that, and you can do this at scale as well. Once I’ve decided that, I have a very simple four-step process.

1. Reformat and Reoptimize Your Content

The four step process goes like this. Step one: You are going to reformat and reoptimize your content. A lot of you are SEOs, and there's been a million things written about how to reoptimize and get your content closer to the search intent, use more semantically related keywords. So I am not going to focus on that. What I am going to remind you to focus on is reformatting your content.

The thing to remember is that featured snippets (right now) come in four main formats. They come in lists, tables, paragraphs, and now video featured snippets. So, when you’re shaping your content, in this case, if I was going for ‘how to recycle batteries’, I would probably go for a list. So step one, do this, step two, do that. ‘How’ keywords do very well with lists. And so you want to think about format a lot more than you did in the past.

2. Submit Your Page to Google Index

Once you nail that, you’re going to do step two, which is simple. You go over the Search Console and you fetch your new page right after you’ve uploaded it, and you submit it to Google’s index. You don’t have to do this, but hey, I am impatient, I want them to know about it the second that it goes live, and this is the way to ensure that happens.

Alternatively, you can now simply go to Google, visit the “Submit to Google” page, and tell Google about your new or updated content without logging into Search Console.

3. Give It Some Time

I’ve seen people earn a feature snippet within hours. But you’ll see that... step three: I’d say wait at least a week. Not every time you do this, you know, you are going instantly get that gratification. fter a week, if you haven’t earned it, don’t just throw your hands up and go ‘well, I guess we can’t get that’. If you haven’t earned it after a week, simply repeat steps one through three until you earn it.

4. Repeat Steps 1 to 3 If Necessary

So, just re-tweak your optimization, maybe re-tweak your formatting, and go in a different direction, submit it back to Google. And sit back and wait. You can do this within your editorial calendar where you have all these featured snippet targets you’re kind of monitoring, tweaking, and earning over time.

Keep it Going!

Alright, so in our next video I am going to show you how to use the SEO Ideas Tool to generate tons of semantic keyword ideas, content optimization ideas, strategy ideas, and even technical SEO edits and ideas at scale, and really use it as a virtual assistant for your entire SEO operations.

In the meantime, pick out one featured snippet using SEMrush that you want to earn over the next week or so. Hit me up on Twitter — I am @SEO — and let me know if you’re successful.

Find Your Featured Snippet!

SEMrush Keyword Magic tool

Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com
Very useful info, thanks
Great post - thanks for putting this together. I think I might be missing something, but whenever i do step 1 I only see terms where the domain I'm analysing has already won the featured snippet. Am I doing something wrong? Would be great to see snippet opportunities where the site is performing well in normal results but hasn't already won the snippet.
A.J. Thanks for the step-by-step process along with the images. Very helpful. Something i'm going to really dig into.
Thanks, Kevin and happy hunting for those Featured Snippets with Keyword Magic!
Great info, thanks
Great post it was very benefical
I'm still not quite convinced that I want Google to steal my traffic, with a featured snippet. You know, I kinda have a love-hate relationship with them, when it comes to organic search.
David Zimmerman
I thought the same exact thing the first time I heard about FS. I was like WTH. However, I am seeing really strong CTR on client FS so I was wrong about that. The trick is in how you format the content. You need to have say a large enough list that Google truncates it...which leaves the user needing to click through to see the rest. I did this study with SEMrush and we found some very specific data on how to do this https://moz.com/blog/what-we-learned-analyzing-featured-snippets if you want to give it a try.
David Zimmerman
Hi David - I also thought the same thing but I think it really depends on the snippet type. Some snippets answers the question right away, and the searcher moves on. Other times it offers a true "snippet" of information almost with a 'read more...' aspect which can then drive more users to your site. I think in that aspect (how Google decides to display the snippet, and how much of it) is a roll of the dice.
Hey A.J. thanks for the info. Your articles are really helpful because I didn't know some of the functionality existed.

I think the Search Featured Snippets filter isn't working how you describe.

"When you apply that, what you are going to see is all these top ten rankings, where Google shows a featured snippet."

What appears to be happening is when you apply the Featured Snippets filter, it filters based on your keywords having a featured snippet and filters out keywords where you aren't featured. At least that is what I am seeing.

It would be huge if it didn't filter out keywords where the competitors had a featured snippet instead, but that isn't what I am seeing on my end.
Thanks! Yep, it looks like that has been tweaked. I will ask SEMrush if they would consider allowing you to filter to show keywords in the top 10 that have Featured Snippets that you don't own. Maybe if they allowed you exclude your domain as a filter. Which I just tested and currently does not work that way.
A.J. Ghergich
What I would do for now is to use Keyword Magic to find all the Featured Snippets in your vertical and then use the export manager to create a large list. Export than then filter out your own domain. Should work just fine.
A.J. Ghergich
I think your suggestion would be a real winner. It then would make it super easy to continue on with what you wrote. It also would make it super useful to see where you might really gain some traffic.

The articles that I have written that are featured snippets are driving a ton of traffic. In most cases I have the number 0 spot and the number 1 or 2 spot of Google. So it's like having 2 listings.
I see the same with our clients. FS CTR is generally very high. Especially if you optimize your images once you earn it. A good image can make an FS turn into a magnet.
A.J. Ghergich
You mention optimizing images. Is that where you're naming them and making them more clickable by having more enticing images.
No, I mean more like thinking about how the image will look at around 200 x 200. Landscape images tend to display much better than vertical images. So you can tweak the images a bit so they look fantastic and engaging even at smaller renderings.
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