A Google snippet is a great way to get your articles ranked by Google and seen by millions of people, which is why getting them right is absolutely key. The good news? You don’t have to rewrite every article on your website, you can just touch up your answer targets.
We’re going to go over some “Good, Better, Best” examples with you, so you can get a feel for where your answer targets are, and hopefully come away with some ideas for how to improve the state of your google ranking.
Introduction to Google Snippets
Before we do our deep dive, let’s go over the meanings of some of the phrases we’ll be using, so you understand their place in your process. The two most important are “answer target”, and “google snippet”. Any time you google a question, and an answer comes up right at the top in bolded text, that is a google snippet. Having an article that “wins” the google snippet gives you a much higher chance of directing traffic to your site, because it proves to people that you not only know what you’re talking about, but that you have the information that people need.
So how do you win the Google snippet? That’s where the answer target comes in. Google essentially scans your articles in your to find answers to the questions people ask, but it isn’t a perfect system. The way you format your articles can make a big difference as to whether or not Google will find the answer in your content, and there are essentially two format styles you can follow to give yourself the best chance: an answer target and a list post. We’ll just be covering the answer target in this post.
So what makes an answer target?
What Qualifies A Snippet?
- An answer target typically goes right after the introduction paragraph.
- You should keep your answer target between 150 and 300 characters. Not words, characters.
- Write in a concise, encyclopedic, and standalone way. Even if you’re using a more passive, or personable writing style throughout the rest of your article, your answer target should read like the definition from a dictionary.
- Once your answer target is written, bold it, and add any other helpful formatting elements to help it stand out.
- After you’ve finished your article, revisit your answer target. Give it any adjustments to wordsmithing and its “encyclopedic-ness” that you can. Remember, this snippet is the key to getting your articles views, so each of these things are incredibly important for you to follow.
Now that you know what you’re doing, lets go over a few “Good, Better, Best” examples for you to compare your own writing to. To provide these examples, we’re going to be using articles from one of our own websites.
Good Snippet Examples
Here is our first example, a “Good” answer target that answers the question, “WHAT FLOWER COLORS ATTRACT BIRDS?”. We’ll be using the same prompt for each quality level to illustrate the changes between quality, and hopefully help give you a more accurate idea of where your own answer targets are at.
Most bird feeders are colored red for a reason. This color not only looks great but is easily spotted amongst green vegetation. The color white is the color of many birds’ tail feathers and under-wing plumage and thus may represent a color indicating birds leaving under distress, so this color is not recommended.
This example answers the question, so why is it bad?
Let’s dissect it while going over the qualifications we listed earlier on. We’ll just assume that it was placed in the correct location in the article and just evaluate the content of the answer target itself.
There are 316 characters in this answer target, which puts it inside the required character limit, so we’re in the clear there. How does it read? Is it encyclopedic? It falls a little short in that area. Several statements made are generalizations or assumptions that can’t be proven, or don’t have much to do with the question we’re trying to answer.
Answering a question about flowers by first referring to a bird feeder isn’t something you should do in an answer target, even though it would be fine later on in the article. You want to stick strictly to the topic you’re writing about, which, in this case, are flower colors that attract birds.
“This color not only looks great-” is fluff. We don’t know if it looks great to birds, and what people think of it doesn’t matter in this context. Saying birds may not like the color white is also not helpful information, since the answer target should only be addressing what colors birds DO like, Colors to avoid can be a seperate subheading later on in the article.
For our second example, we have a “Good” answer target that answers the question, “The Ideal Number of Chickens to Get if You’re New To Them”.
“Those who are new to raising chickens should start with 3-5 chickens. Those new to chickens should get no fewer than 3 chickens because that’s the minimum you need for healthy socialization. Only get 5 or more chickens if you have a big family to feed or if you really want to make sure you get at least 3 hens.”
There are 311 characters in this answer target, which puts it inside the required character limit, so we’re in the clear there. How does it read? Is it encyclopedic? It definitely falls short in that area. The first two sentences start with “Those who are new”, and “Those new”, which are essentially the same thing. It’s repetitious, and it reads as lazy writing. The answer target as a whole is more wordy than it needs to be, and doesn’t read as professional writing. This area is where most answer targets fail, so lets rework it.
“Three to five chickens is the suggested number for beginners. You should have no fewer than three in order to meet the minimum requirement for healthy socialization. Refrain from getting more than five unless you’re positive you’ll need a larger quantity of eggs.”
This new answer target says the same things the first example did, with fewer characters, better grammar, and it reads much more professionally.
Better Snippet Examples
Let’s go over a “better” example”, and we’ll explain what makes it different from the “good” example using the same prompt.
Vibrant colors attract birds and stand out amongst green vegetation. Red, Yellow, and Blue flowers attract a wide variety of birds since these colors are often found in the bird’s plumage.
This answer target is 189 characters, which makes it more concise, and we’ve moved around some of the information. It feels like it flows more easily, but it doesn’t quite read like a dictionary definition, which is what we need to be aiming for. The first sentence and the second sentence say essentially the same thing, while the second sentence is more specific and actually has the information the reader is looking for.
This next “better” answer target is meant to answer the question, “How Often Do Baby Chicks Die? (And When They’re Vulnerable)”
For baby chicks purchased from a hatchery, it is normal for around 5% to die before reaching maturity. However, it’s not uncommon for anywhere from 1% to over 10% of baby chicks to die when you include newly born chicks still at the hatchery. How often chicks die depends a lot on how old they are as well as the conditions they are kept in.
This specific example isn’t as obviously repetitive as the example we used before, but it is at 341 characters, which is dangerously close to being too long. Answer targets that get close to the limit can almost always be condensed. However, the data here is still good, so let’s rework it.
On average, 5% of purchased chicks will die before reaching maturity. They’re most vulnerable right before, and right after hatching, with anywhere from 1-10% of chicks still at the hatchery dying before being purchased.
This brings our word count to 220 characters, and still answers the question posed by the article title, while sounding more like a dictionary definition. You’ll also notice that we completed removed the sentence starting with “How often chicks die”. While that was a good point to bring up, the question the answer target needs to address is “How Often Do Baby Chicks Die? (And When They’re Vulnerable)”, not “How to Improve your chick’s chances of survival”. That would be something worth bringing up in the article body, but not in the answer target. The answer target needs to stay strictly specific, and true to the article title.
Best Snippet Examples
Last, but certainly not least, we have our “best” example.
Red, yellow, and blue flowers attract a wide variety of bird species and are easily spotted amongst green vegetation as a bird flies past. To attract a specific bird species, use vibrant colors that mimic the bird’s own plumage or their primary food sources.
This answer target sounds professional, is to the point, and reads like something you would find in a dictionary, The grammar is good, and sticks to only giving the reader the information that the title is looking for. There are a few areas that may be able to be condensed, but that’s more of a wordsmithing preference. Overall, this is a great example of an answer target that is on point.
For our final “best” example, we have “How Longer Cereal Lasts (And How To Store It So It Lasts Longer)
Once the expiration date has passed, cereal will last between 6-8 months if unopened. If it has been opened but stays properly sealed when not in use, it can last 1-4 months. It will largely still be safe to consume thereafter, but it will quickly become stale and the taste will be compromised.
We’re not going to re-work this example, because it’s already fantastic. There’s no fluff, and every bit of information there is directly pertinent to the question being posed by the title. It reads like a dictionary definition, the grammar is on point, and at 295 characters, it’s within the acceptable character limit.
Time To Get To Work!
Writing a good answer target is honestly a bit of an art, and it’s one that you can learn. It takes practice! If there is anything we want you to take away from this experience, it’s the importance of wordsmithing. The way you phrase the information in your answer target will make or break your chances of ending up with the google snippet.
Step 1. Do your research. You can’t write a good answer target if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Take 20-30 minutes to research your topic, making sure to use credible sources. You need to make sure your information is correct!
Step 2. Write down your initial answer target. It’s ok if it’s rough, you can treat it like the first draft of a paper. Make sure you get all your information from official sources, because you absolutely do not want to end up with incorrect information in your answer target.
3. Once you’ve finished your article as a whole, go back and look over your answer target. This final wordsmithing is important. You’ll be able to double check your information to make sure nothing has changed, do final grammar checks, and ensure that it reads like a dictionary definition.
Go over it as often as you need to, until you’ve really ground it down into a polished gem that google would want featured. It’ll take practice, but once you’ve got it down, the page views will make all your hard work worth the effort!