There are a lot of articles on featured snippets being published lately but they fail to explain how to easily identify featured snippet opportunities.
The most common methods are using keyword research tools to find common questions on your topic, or reviewing Search Console data to find questions that you are ranking on the first page for. There’s no doubt this will help you find opportunities, but it’s tedious and just because the search query is a question, there’s no guarantee that Google will be displaying a featured snippet for that query. There’s a lot of manual work involved.
And what about all those featured snippet opportunities that aren’t questions? Discovering these opportunities would be like trying to find something intelligent on Donald Trump’s Twitter feed…
This article will go through the process of identifying your current featured snippets (if you have any) and performing keyword research to find terms that are known to display featured snippets. I will then show you how to identify some potential quick wins to help get you ranking in position 0 in no time.
How to find your Featured Snippets
The easiest way to find your current featured snippets is with SEMrush (affiliate). I’m using Moz.com in my examples.
Step 1. In the menu on the left, go to Domain Analytics > Organic Research and enter your domain in the search box.
Step 2. On the right hand side of the dashboard, under ‘SERP Features‘, click ‘Featured snippet‘.
Step 3. What you are left with are keywords that your site has featured snippets for. Export your list of featured snippet keywords to Excel – we’ll use it later.
Finding NEW Featured Snippet opportunities for your site
SEO Keyword Magic (Beta) by SEMrush has one of my favorite keyword research features at the moment and I can’t recall seeing it mentioned anywhere.
SEO Keyword Magic performs all of the standard tasks you’d expect in any keyword tool, but the thing that sets SEO Keyword Magic apart from the rest in a big way is its ability to filter keywords by SERP features – more specifically, Featured Snippets.
In SEMrush, you will find SEO Keyword Magic under Keyword Analytics in the left-hand menu.
Once you’re at the SEO Keyword Magic page, enter your starting keyword. In this example for Moz I’ll start with ‘seo’.
Hit ‘Search’ and it will take you to the dashboard.
You’ll find everything you’d expect in a keyword research tool here, as well as a few unique features, but we’ll stick to featured snippets in this post.
In the ‘SERP Features’ drop down, check the ‘Featured Snippet’ box.
You are now left with a list of keywords that are known to display featured snippets!
This is a good start, but let’s build on it. Click the green ‘Export to submarine’ button and we’ll store those keywords for later (I don’t know why it’s called ‘submarine’).
Click the ‘+ New keyword’ button and we’ll go through the same process for another related keyword topic. I added ‘link building’ in this example.
Be aware that you need to select ‘Featured snippet’ for each new keyword you add.
In the ‘link building’ keyword example above, I’ve excluded featured snippet keywords containing ‘chain’ because there were a few relating to ‘how to build a chain link fence’. Export this list to your submarine.
Keep adding featured snippet keywords to your submarine until you think you have enough (the submarine can hold a maximum of 1000 keywords). In this example I continued to add ‘content marketing’ and ‘keywords’.
Go to your ‘submarine’ and export all your featured snippet keywords to a single spreadsheet.
Now you have two spreadsheets; one containing your existing featured snippets and one containing your SEO Keyword Magic featured snippet keywords known to display featured snippets.
This is great, but your site may already be getting featured snippets for some of these keywords so we’ll need to filter out those results so you can identify your new opportunities.
We’ll also go one step further and identify which keywords from the opportunities list you are already ranking in the top 10 for – this is your low-hanging featured snippet fruit.
Identifying your EASY Featured Snippet opportunities
Firstly, we need to get a list of keywords that the site is ranking in the top 10 for.
Step 1. Go to back SEMrush ‘Organic Research’, enter your domain, exclude branded keywords, and include only keywords in positions less than 10.
Export to Excel and open the spreadsheet. I’ll rename this first tab ‘Top 10’.
Step 2. Open the spreadsheet you exported earlier with all your existing Featured Snippets. Copy and paste this data into a new tab in your Top 10 spreadsheet. Let’s call this tab ‘My Snippets’.
Step 3. Open the spreadsheet you exported from SEO Keyword Magic. Copy and paste this data into another new tab in your Top 10 spreadsheet. Let’s call this tab ‘Opportunities’.
Now you have a single Excel workbook with three tabs; Top 10, My Snippets, and Opportunities.
Step 4. In the ‘My Snippets’ and ‘Opportunities’ tabs, insert a new column B and fill each cell in this row with ‘Yes’. These columns will be used in the VLOOKUP formula and will allow us to easily filter the ‘Top 10’ tab and find the new featured snippet opportunities we are looking for.
Step 5. In the ‘Top 10’ tab, insert a new column at B. This column will be used to check if we already have a featured snippet for the keywords that are already ranking on the first page. I labelled this column ‘Current Featured Snippet?’
Paste the following VLOOKUP into B2 and apply to all cells below:
Step 6. In the ‘Top 10’ tab, insert a new column at C. This column will be used to check if we already have keywords from our ‘Opportunities’ tab that we are already ranking on the first page for. I labelled this column ‘Featured Snippet Opportunity’
Paste the following VLOOKUP into C2 and apply to all cells below:
Filter this column to only display cells containing ‘Yes’.
Filter column B to only display cells containing ‘No’.
What you are left with now is a list of keywords you are ranking on the first page for that are known to display featured snippets, but one of your competitors is getting those featured snippets.
In my example looking at the Moz website, this simple process uncovered 107 featured snippet opportunities in about 5 minutes.
Optimize your content and steal your competitors’ Featured Snippets
The basic process of stealing your competitors’ featured snippets is:
- Identify the type of featured snippet displaying for your keywords – paragraph, list, or table.
- Optimize and tweak your content to suit that type of featured snippet.
- Submit to index in Search Console to help speed up the changes.
I won’t go into more detail on the optimization process in this post because it has been covered many times before and it’s not what this post is about.
If you need more information on how to optimize your content for featured snippets, I recommend reading A.J. Ghergich’s recent Moz article titled What We Learned From Analyzing 1.4 Million Featured Snippets.
Another featured snippet resource I highly recommend is episode 039 of Dan Shure’s Experts on the Wire Podcast titled Seizing the Featured Snippet Gold Rush, with guest Rob Bucci from STAT (if you haven’t already, you should subscribe to this podcast).
Final thoughts and comments
I hope you find this process helpful in identifying new featured snippet opportunities for your website.
There is absolutely no doubt that we’ll continue to see keyword research tools evolve in 2017 and I’d love SEO Keyword Magic to automate the process outlined in this post. All the data is obviously there and it would be extremely beneficial if the dots were joined and users were able export a list of featured snippet keywords you are ranking on the first page for, but not getting the featured snippet for.
I’d also love it to go one step further and identify the type of featured snippet that is displaying for each keyword – that would be a real time saver.
If you have any more tips for finding featured snippets, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below or on Twitter @davebuts.