6 Ways to Optimise Existing Content for Featured Snippet Success

During my recent talk about featured snippets at Search London , an attendee asked: “Is it worth optimising existing content for featured snippets?” The short answer to this is yes. I have done this for clients and I have seen our number of featured snippets for existing content double.

So, if you have an SEO client or project with a library of existing content that generally works well but has yet to achieve featured snippets, here is a tried and tested set of on-page optimisations that you can carry out to improve featured snippet visibility.

1. Add and optimise images

It is not uncommon for featured snippets to include a single image (or a collection of carousel images) alongside the main text. When images are shown as part of a featured snippet, they may be sourced from the same URL as the text or, as is often the case with carousels, will include images from other relevant search results.

In this result for the query where was fast the furious 9 filmed, you can see that there are four different images showing above the paragraph snippet, but only one of the images is from the same URL as the feature snippet paragraph. 

This means that web pages with images have more opportunities to attract clicks and show more prominently in featured snippets. 

To optimise for this, review existing blogs and written content to identify opportunities to:

  • Add relevant images to content with potential to rank for featured snippets
  • Update existing images to include alt text that is relevant to the featured snippet topic
  • Add image structured data to the post to make it easier for crawlers to identify the most important images on the page
  • Update the image file name to include relevant terms

2. Add infographics and charts

There are some verticals where it’s fairly straightforward to add an image into an article or blog. Content around travel, fashion, food, and the arts will have no shortage of images to include with copy. 

But, for professional services like law, consulting, and even recruitment, finding relevant images can be a challenge.

For these verticals, I recommend reviewing content to find opportunities to add the following visualisations:

  • Charts for statistics
  • Diagrams for processes
  • Infographics for explainer posts

I like to use these tactics for lower competition queries, because it’s more likely that both my content and my images will appear as part of a Featured Snippet paragraph and image carousel. 

Tools like Canva and even Powerpoint can make it simple to create these types of visuals while keeping the impact on your time and budget relatively low. And, the visuals will add more user value to your content overall. 

3. Include relevant headers

Content with clear formatting tends to earn more featured snippets. So, if you have valuable content that does not have logical and relevant H2s, H3s, or other header tags, then adding these should help your content perform better for FS and for users.

4. (Re)format content to include numbered or ordered lists

Lists are one of the most commonly seen types of Featured Snippets. Content that includes ordered lists (<ol>) with numbers or unordered lists with bullet points (<ul>) will perform better for this featured snippet type.

To optimise existing content for featured snippet lists, read through your content to see where you have lists that can be reformatted from paragraphs to bullets or numbers. 

For instance, if you have content that is originally written out as a list in paragraph form, like this: 

The Corvid family of birds includes crows, jays, choughs and magpies.

You will better optimise your page for featured snippets by listing the same information as a bulleted list, like this:

The Corvid family of birds includes:

  • Crows
  • Jays
  • Choughs
  • Magpies

And, since this is an on-page optimization that updates the format rather than the content, you can carry this out quickly with minimal delays from any client content approval process.

5. (Re)format content to include tables

Tables are another of the most common featured snippet types, with studies suggesting that 29% of all FS are tables

These snippets are extracted from HTML tables and displayed in the SERP to satisfy the query, sometimes by focusing the visible table on the most relevant sections or tabs. 

For existing content, look for blogs and pages which include banks of data like prices, statistics, dates, or entity comparisons. 

As an example, let’s say you are creating content around legendary girl group Destiny’s Child. You could write a paragraph explaining how many solo albums each member released after the group disbanded and/or you could create a table that shows the information in an easy-to-read format that is optimised for featured snippets.

Solo Studio Albums Released by Destiny’s Child members
Beyoncé Knowles6
Kelly Rowland4
Michelle Williams4
Example of table formatting

In addition to being great for featured snippets, content written this way is also genuinely helpful to users and can make the information more accessible.

6. Add supporting schema markup 

Though 66% of URLs with featured snippets include some schema markup, to be clear: you do not need to add schema markup to a post in order to be eligible for a featured snippet. 

That said, it is the case that Google sometimes replaces features snippets with schema-dependent rich results — the best example of this is featured snippets for recipes, which were extremely common in the early days of featured snippets and are now almost exclusively shown on the SERP as rich results

This means that content that is optimised for featured snippets and rich results is more resilient to these changes. Thus, taking a layered approach to your featured snippet strategy can pay dividends.

Which schema markup pairs best with FS content optimization?

Schema markup that provides additional information for multimedia and supports transparent E-A-T can help content your featured snippet content to maintain traffic as the SERP changes. It can also help new content gain the kind of authority that Google expects to see from pages it might highlight as a featured snippet. Relevant schema include:

  1. Author property 
  2. Review type
  3. Image property
  4. VideoObject type
  5. FAQPage type

Get more ROI by optimising existing content for featured snippets

Taking each of these elements into consideration, you should be able to review and update your existing content to add more value and improve your featured snippet performance.