This post will be showing everything you need to do to get your first Google featured snippet.
A couple of days ago, I found out that some posts on my lifestyle blog are ranking on the first page of Google with a few featured snippets.
Of course, my excitement was off the roof. I’ve been super strategic with my blog from the beginning so I wasn’t surprised when I got these results in such a short time. As always with all my achievements, I’ll be taking a step back to backtrack all the strategies I’ve used to get to this point in this post.
But before we dig in, here are some key statistics you need to know about my lifestyle blog;
- It was created in May 2019 but was mostly inactive until April 2020 during the first lockdown.
- It’s a lifestyle blog with three niches but the primary niche is Skincare.
- Its major source of traffic is Pinterest (80%) and Google (20%) with organic traffic increasing every single day.
- It has just about 100,000 pageviews and gets about 12,000 monthly average page views.
- It has a Domain Authority of 22 (Oct. 2020)
- It has less than 100 published posts and 97% of them are optimized for SEO. The only exceptions are the pages.
Now that these statistics are out of the way, we understand the kind of blog we’re dealing with. I’ll like to mention here that I have seven years of digital marketing experience. So, asides from one Pinterest course that I bought that is responsible for most of my Pinterest traffic, every other strategy including SEO is self -taught.
Here is how to get your first Google Featured Snippet in no time.
Since we’re focusing on Google, this part will dive a bit deeper into my SEO strategies. For those that are new to the term; SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It basically just implies all the strategies you use to get consistent traffic from Google. It’s as simple as that. Now, SEO is majorly split into two;
- On-Page SEO which is basically how you optimize your entire blog and posts for Google traffic.
- Off-Page SEO is all the signals that tell Google that your blog should be taken seriously and is well-deserving of all of that sweet organic traffic.
While SEO can get complicated and advanced very easily, there are two key things that you should have at the back of your mind; Content and Links. On-page SEO is basically ensuring that all your blog posts are optimized for keywords that being actively searched for on Google. While Off-Page SEO is getting as many high-quality blogs/websites to link back to your blog. These are called backlinks.
So, the two major things that can get you a Google Featured Snippet is a well-optimized and structured blog post and good quality links.
So, how do you write great content that ranks on the first page of Google?
On-Page SEO Strategies
Before now, I used to avoid SEO because I thought it was too technical for me. I spent a bit of time in my career as an SEO Content Writer so content is definitely one of my strengths. This means that I didn’t have any issues with my On-Page SEO Strategies. All I needed to do was to implement them.
If you are new to On-Page SEO or you just need a refresher, here are all the things you need to do to get results;
Do Keyword Research.
While everyone blogs for different reasons, if you are serious about organic traffic, you’ll only write content with keywords that are searched at least 10,000 – 100,000 times monthly. Don’t pick short-tail keywords (one-two words) that are highly competitive or are searched 1,000 or 1 million times monthly. Choose long-tail keywords with three to four words and write in-depth posts on them. Your post should be around 1000-1500 words and above depending on the niche. Use keyword tools like the Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest to pick your keywords. Some people also like KeySearch as well. Writing long posts was really a struggle for me for a long time. These days, I do it almost four times a week on both of my blogs.
Optimize your posts for SEO.
If you use WordPress, you should absolutely use the Yoast SEO plugin or RankMath which is getting popular these days. It will show you all the steps you need to take to ensure that your post is well optimized. Use the headings to structure your posts. This is so key if you want your post to be picked up as a Google Featured Snippet. Google loves concise information that is well structured. Sprinkle your long-tail keyword in your post a few times. Try not to overdo it by keyword stuffing. Internally link related content to your post to tie your blog together. Use external links to boost the credibility of your post. Clean up your URLs and stick to your long-tailed keyword. Write a concise meta-description with your long-tailed keyword.
Write Great Content.
It’s so easy to write generic content but because everyone is doing it, it’s not going to set your post apart. So, you need to think outside the box for content ideas. Think Search Intent. Before writing content, put yourself in a typical user’s shoes. If you struggle to come up with something, type in your long-tail keyword into Google and look at the results that it shows. See the kind of content that shows up for the keyword then write something similar but better. These days, I do a lot of comparison posts and guides (not 500-word guides btw) because they work and they help me rank for competitive keywords. If you can’t come up with new content ideas, do a bit of research and check out other authoritative blogs in your niche and see what is trending.
TIP: If you have a long title tag; move your long-tail keyword to the beginning so it doesn’t get buried.
If possible, use original images.
While this tip might be difficult because of the various niches available, if you can, try to use your own images. I started with my iPhone but now I have a DSLR that I use to take my own photos. I don’t have the best photography skills but the images I take are decent enough for a featured snippet. Plus, the more pictures I take, the better my skills improve. Rather than using stock photos that have been used over and over, taking your own pictures will increase your chances of ranking on the first page for a keyword. Asides from my posts, I also optimize my images with my long-tailed keywords which is why you can see all of them in the featured snippet.
Site Speed matters a lot too.
I used to be with a very slow hosting company. As a result, my blog had quite a lot of downtime. Two months ago, I moved to Lyrical Host which is a cheaper alternative to SiteGround and I’m sure you’re seeing the results from my receipts. My blog is super fast and I have zero downtime. These are one of the signals that tell Google that my blog deserves to rank on the first page.
Off-Page SEO Strategies to get a Google Featured Snippet
In my opinion, On-page SEO is pretty easy if you know what you’re doing. Off-Page SEO is where the work is.
Most of the strategies for Off-Page SEO are tied to link building which is the very foundation of Google Algorithm. This is the process of building high-quality links to your website which signals to Google that your website is trustworthy which in turn helps to boosts your rankings.
Now, you’re probably wondering what is so difficult about getting links. Before now, any kind of backlinks to your website used to be fine. But over the years, the Google Algorithm has become more advanced and the digital space has become even more competitive and saturated. Over time, this has lowered the effectiveness of low-quality links. So your backlinks have to come from a website with a high domain authority for them to have any significant effect on your rankings.
One of the reasons why I was able to rank that fast was because I got a high-quality backlink from a credible website with a domain authority of 81. That’s pretty high for my DA of 20 at that time. Of course, with that single high-quality backlink, my DA went up to 22. When you pair that with my well-optimized posts, I was able to get a Google Featured Snippet easily.
It goes without saying that when it comes to backlinks, it is quality over quantity. Don’t be in a rush to get just any links just for the sake of it.
Here are some foolproof ways to get backlinks:
This is easily my best discovery of 2020. HARO is a service that connects reporters to sources. So you have reporters and editors from all the major and minor digital publications looking for sources for their next articles. When you register with HARO, you get three emails daily with tons of enquires from different industries. Your job is to sieve through those requests to find the ones you can respond to. When you find one, you respond to the reporter and if they are interested they follow up with a few questions. If they decide to use your response as a source, you get rewarded with a backlink. This is one of the sure-fire ways to get press coverage and a high quality backlink as well.
Now, that seems easy yeah? Well, not really. These days. based on what I have noticed, majority of the enquires are specific. The reporters are gravitating towards experts and licensed professionals. If you fall into any of these categories, good for you. If you are like me and you don’t, you just have to work harder to find requests that you can geniunely answer.
Like I mentioned earlier, I got a single backlink from an authoritative website through HARO and it boosted my rankings. So, give it a short. It will definitely take a while but it will be so worth it in the end.
TIP: Make sure that you are getting a do-follow backlink as opposed to a no-follow backlink. This ensures that some juice from the authoritative site is passed to you.
There is a lot of speculation about the effectiveness of guest posts. As far as I am concerned, they still work. The only issue is getting genuine websites that respond to guest post requests. A lot of them claim that they accept guest posts but when you reach out to them, it’s all radio silence. They never get back to you. There’s also a category of websites that have the most ridiculous conditions for guest posting that completely put you off.
These challenges doesn’t mean you should put off guest posts. They work if you are ready to put in the work. So, if you have connections in digital media, take advantage of them.
Inasmuch as I hate the platform, I won’t dispute the fact that Facebook groups have been pivotal for my blog. In terms of link building, I’ve been able to find similar blogs that I can swap links with. This involves joining a link building group and posting your blog and niche as a post. You’ll get responses from people in similar niches. You’ll then go ahead and add their link to any relevant post on your blog and vice versa. If you’re link swapping, make sure the content is related. You don’t want to give Google a spam signal that will affect your rankings.
While the links you get from the Facebook groups might not as authoritative as HARO, it is better than nothing. At every point, always ensure that your backlink profile is a priority.
I would say writing SEO optimized posts and getting a high quality backlink is how I was able to get a Google Featured Snippet. I hope this post has been able to identify the areas where you’re lacking and what you need to do about them.