What You Need to Know about Featured Snippets for Higher Education

online search landscape

The Google search landscape looks a lot differently than it did only a few years ago. Gone are the days of the ten blue organic links. Now, Google search pages include several new types of results. One of the most prevalent results is the featured snippet.

What Is a Featured Snippet?

A featured snippet is a special box at the top of a Google search page that includes an answer to your specific query. Search “how to save money as a student,” and you see seven money saving tips right up top in the featured snippet.

featured snippet

Google intends for featured snippets to provide you with the best experiences possible. You don’t have to click through a bunch of links to find the answer to your question; an answer appears right at the top of the search page. We’re now in a world of zero-click searches.

Many SEO professionals rally against this new world. Featured snippets discourage clicks and keep searchers away from all the great content we help create. According to an analysis from Rand Fishkin of SparkToro, Google solved 48.96 percent  of searches in Q1 2019 without a click. 1

Nonetheless, any battle against Google is a losing one. Featured snippets and other similar search results are here to stay. Around , up 166 percent since 2016.2 Expect this growth to continue.

Why Featured Snippets are Important for Your School

When your prospective students start their journeys with research on Google, what’s the first thing they see? Probably something like a featured snippet. Featured snippets appear for a variety of search topics, and higher education is no exception.

You need to optimize your content to take advantage of everything featured snippets have to offer. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on search visibility when and where your school needs it most.

Build an Audience with Blog Content

Blogs give you the opportunity to build an audience online through targeted content. With this content, you can reach your prospective students at different stages of their journeys. Featured snippets now change the equation.

If your topic returns featured snippets, you’ll see fewer clicks and less traffic to your blog post. You need to optimize your content for those featured snippets to maintain your visibility online.

Outrank Your Competition to Become the Authority

Let’s say you offer a medical assistant program. Your prospective students go online to learn about the different program options. “How long does it take to be a medical assistant?” “How much does a medical assistant program cost?” These types of queries return featured snippets.

You want to appear in these featured snippets so you can be the first school with which your prospective students engage. If you don’t, your competition will.

Take Control of Your Brand Online

You can use content marketing to build your school’s brand online. Your prospective searchers want to learn about your programs, tuition, financial aid, and so on. Watch out for featured snippets with these types of queries.

It’s important that these featured snippets pull from your site, not from a directory. Only then can you guarantee your prospective students see accurate, up-to-date information.

Voice Search

We’ve all heard about voice search by now. In fact, we’ve probably all heard a voice search by now. Voice search started out as a neat little trick, but now it’s an important part of search. ComScore estimates that 50 percent of all searches will be voice  by 2020.3

A great way to optimize for voice search is to optimize for featured snippets. Backlinko analyzed 10,000 voice searches and found that 40 percent of answers came from featured snippets.4 If you want to prepare for voice search, focus on featured snippets.

ESM Digital: Your Higher Education Digital Marketing Experts

At ESM Digital, we make featured snippets part of your digital marketing strategy. Our search engine optimization team analyzes your search landscape and finds the best opportunities for featured snippet acquisition. Then, our content marketing team also creates and updates custom content that wins relevant featured snippets.

Contact us today to learn more about our higher education digital marketing services. You want more visibility in Google search. We can help.

~Joseph Colarusso


1 https://sparktoro.com/blog/how-much-of-googles-search-traffic-is-left-for-anyone-but-themselves/

2 https://moz.com/blog/featured-snippets

3 https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2018/04/10/voice-search-statistics-2018

4 https://backlinko.com/voice-search-seo-study