You have an eCommerce store, but no one is finding it.
What’s the problem?
Is it that people aren’t searching for the product or service that you offer?
You likely have an issue with Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO.
SEO is a series of content tweaks and link building that takes place both on and off your site. Through eCommerce SEO, you can raise your eCommerce store from relative obscurity into an internet hotbed of activity.
The SEO score of your site determines where you rank on Google. That coveted number one spot is the goal for every SEO marketer.
But what if I were to tell you that there’s a slot ahead of the number one result? What if you could have your site appear before any organic search result?
It’s possible, but it will take some work. You’ll need to show in the “featured snippet” for your desired search term.
Featured snippets are bits of content that answer a search query. They appear before even the number one ranked site for a specific topic.
But ranking for a featured snippet is not easy.
In this article, we will talk about what a featured snippet is, and touch on how you can incorporate featured snippets into your SEO strategy. After that, we will give you all of the wheres, the whats, and the hows of featured snippet marketing.
What is a Featured Snippet?
Featured snippets can be a gold mine for marketers. It’s a block of text that appears at the very top of specific search results, usually answering a question posed by the searcher.
What makes a featured snippet so valuable to your eCommerce store?
Featured snippets appear first in Google, before even the number one result.
That’s why featured snippets are known in the SEO world as “Position Zero.”
Here’s an example:
If your information is useful, a searcher will not have to scroll beyond your snippet to get the answer to their question.
This not only puts you at the very front of the line, but it often makes the line behind you irrelevant.
Featured snippets, due to their prominent positioning and informative layout, capture the attention of searching users in a way that an organic link and even a paid ad can’t do.
Unfortunately, featured snippets are challenging to rank for. Much like the majority of SEO, Google has a formula in place that allows it to choose the best and most relevant content to show in the featured snippet..
Typically, there are no guarantees associated with featured snippets, but when you can get one, your click-through rate will skyrocket.
To put this in perspective, think of the number of sites that pop up for any search. There are typically thousands of them. The first page holds the top 10 results. That’s coveted in and of itself.
But only one site out of all these thousands will be chosen for a featured snippet.
When Google puts you on the first page, it’s telling the user that you are an authority on this subject. When it lists you for a featured snippet, it is showing the user that you are the authority on this subject.
Consider Snippets when Creating Content
Featured snippets don’t happen by accident. You have to seek them out, and you should start that process early on when you’re developing your content strategy.
When you’re writing out your product pages, it’s helpful to include content that works with featured snippets.
Featured snippets are often the answer to a question posed by a searcher. Figure out what your audience is searching for, and you’ll understand how best to design your content around featured snippets.
Not every search query has a featured snippet, so you’ll have to choose carefully.
Once you have the question, make sure to ask that question verbatim somewhere in your on-page content. Then, you have to give a great answer to it on the same page.
Structuring Your Answer for Featured Snippets
Featured snippets need to have complete answers presented in one of three ways:
- Using a table
- Making a list – When doing this, make sure to use bullet points to illustrate your answer. It’s easy to read, and it’s popular with Google
- Writing in a paragraph
It’s up to you to determine which format you should use when answering your chosen questions.
If your question features multiple steps, consider making a numbered list. That’s always the best way to illustrate a process. If it’s an informational question asking for a definition, answer it in paragraph format.
Do Your Research
SEO is all about research. Before you type out the first word of content or seek out your first backlink, you need to create a detailed plan of attack.
SEO research has a lot to do with your audience. You have to understand who they are. Once you know that, you have to understand their pain points. Then, once you have a strong sense of those pain points, you have to figure out not only what they are searching for but how they are searching for it.
That’s vital when you’re trying to score a featured snippet. You have to know not only what keywords are relevant to your audience, but you also have to figure out what questions they’re asking using those keywords.
Use Google’s Keyword Planner
One of the best ways to do this is to use Google’s Keyword Planner tool. This is a free service from Google which shows you the search volume for your chosen questions.
It also works for generic keyword targeting:
By doing this, you can determine which questions your audience is asking and which you should be targeting with search optimization on your e-commerce website, blog, and product pages.
After you’ve determined what significant questions your audience is asking, it’s time for a little competitor analysis.
Type your target questions into Google and see what pops up.
Take a long hard look at the results on the first page. Then, look into the current featured snippet on that page (if there are any).
There are two questions you’ll need to ask yourself immediately.
- What are they doing right?
- How can you do better?
Do a deep dive into the ranking website. If they’re ranking in the featured snippet, then their SEO game is on point. Figure out what keywords they’re going for and try to model your content toward those terms. You need to beat them at their own game.
Also, take careful note of how they’re answering the question. Are they using a paragraph format where a table or list might serve better? Are they leaving out any vital information? Are they including information that you weren’t planning on tossing in there?
Once you know the competition, your goal has to be answering the question in a better and more complete way in order to overtake them and claim the featured snippet spot.
It’s not going to happen overnight, but with the right amount of research, determination, and patience, it is possible.
The Where, What, and How of Featured Snippets for Online Stores
When trying to rank for a featured snippet, there are some criteria you’re going to have to meet. If you have any hope of achieving featured snippet supremacy, you have to create a checklist and make sure you’ve got everything in order and ready to roll out.
The first major factor in featured snippet selection is that the site in question needs to be on page one of Google for this topic.
You don’t have to be the number one selection, but you do have to already rank on the first page to be considered.
This first item is a steep uphill battle. Page one penetration for SEO is something that takes a long time to achieve. You’ll have to be diligent about including high value and relevant keywords on your pages.
On top of that, you’ll have to ensure that you have a wealth of backlinks coming from respected sites that are relevant to your industry. Backlinks are the heart and soul of SEO, and also one of the most challenging aspects of the process.
When a site that Google already respects links to you, they’re telling Google that you’re trustworthy, and worth sending searchers to. This acknowledgment of authority goes a long way toward pushing you up the search engine ladder, which in turn goes a long way toward earning a featured snippet.
You can’t mince words when it comes to trying to rank for a featured snippet. The content that you include has to be specific to the question being asked and concise in nature.
Remember, featured snippets are not very long, so you have to make sure that you get to the point and stay on the point.
Everything has to be relevant to the question that is being asked by the user. The key is to stay on topic while also including the various keywords that are associated with the matter. Any deviation or tangents are going to disqualify you in favor of a site that had a more informative and concise answer to the question.
Formatting Your Question
When it comes time to answer the question, there is a certain format that you should follow. Remember we’re going for the answers to a question, so ask that question in your site.
If you’re marketing an eCommerce company that sells lawn care products, consider these questions:
- Who should you talk to about lawn care?
- Where should I go to get the best weed killer?
- Why should I worry about crabgrass?
- Should I hire a landscaper?
- Does hiring a landscaper lead to a healthier lawn?
You’ll also want to make the question a header on your page. In the case of a product page, it could be something at the end of the description, so long as the question is related to the product and its uses.
There are a number of extras that you can include on your eCommerce pages to increase your chances at netting a featured snippet.
For starters, you can create a Question and Answer section of your site, where you can answer a wealth of questions on subjects that have to do with your industry. Just make sure that they are questions people are searching for.
There are also specific phrases or terms that you can use, which will let the Google search bots know what you’re trying to do.
Some of these include:
- “In the table below…”
- “This list…”
By including these specific terms, you’re telling Google’s crawler what to expect on your page. You’re showing them that you’re answering a specific question, and your quest for a particular featured snippet becomes more likely to be recognized.
There are also a number of terms which are known to trigger featured snippets. Check them out in the image below.
A featured snippet could be the deciding factor that puts your online store over the top and drives an influx of new customers.
But getting a featured snippet is much easier said than done. It takes a lot of planning and SEO expertise to be able to spin your content in a way that adheres to Google’s featured snippet formula.
By understanding what a featured snippet is, factoring them into your website copywriting, performing dutiful research, and including extras, you could stand to claim “Position Zero” on a search engine results page in your industry.