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How To Get Your Content to Appear

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How To Get Your Content to Appear


Updated March 7, 2022

In the rush to get on the front page of Google search results, a major opportunity stands out as the most useful and relevant: featured snippets.

At the top of many informational searches, these bits of text provide a quick answer to a searcher’s question. Since featured snippets outrank standard list results, they often are referred to as “position zero.”

If the brief answer appearing on the results page isn’t sufficient, searchers are more likely to click on that link to learn more. Thus, knowing how to increase the chance your content will be the featured snippet is a razor-sharp tool for marketers looking to increase brand awareness and organic traffic.

Knowing how to increase the chance your content will be a featured snippet on Google is a razor-sharp tool for marketers, says @JuliaEMcCoy via @CMIContent. #SEO Click To Tweet

How do you create content that has a high chance of ranking in featured snippets?

While many assume featured snippets are the territory of SEO masters or brands with million-dollar marketing budgets, that isn’t true. In fact, it’s easy to rank for featured snippets with organic content only. You just need the know-how.

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What are featured snippets?

Featured snippets are the informational content that shows up in Google’s search engine result pages immediately after the ads and sponsored posts (if available). This search for “how to show ROI for marketing” features a snippet from Marketing Mo:

If the search term attracted sponsored ads, they would appear above the snippet, which ranks as the top organic result. Google shows what it considers high-quality content in this space because it’s focused on fulfilling user intent.

How to earn featured snippets in 4 steps

Earning a featured snippet in Google isn’t as simple as keyword placement or ensuring your content is well-written. I’ll walk through the steps I use (and teach) to create content that ranks and earns snippets. This example walks through how we earned the featured snippet for “marketing content writer.”)

Earning a featured snippet on Google isn’t as simple as keyword placement or well-written content, says @JuliaEMcCoy via @CMIContent. #SEO Click To Tweet

1. Research keywords with low keyword difficulty and high audience relevance

Every piece of content starts with research. Focusing on the wrong metrics will not lead to rankings or featured snippets. The right metrics include keyword difficulty and user relevance.

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Keyword difficulty

While doing keyword research for my blog Content Hacker, I found the term “marketing content writer.”

As of this writing, “marketing content writer” has a keyword difficulty (KD) score of 50. When I originally found the keyword, it was approximately 40 in keyword difficulty.

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KD is an SEO metric that tells you how hard it is to rank for a certain search term. If your site is relatively new or doesn’t have an established web presence, low KD matters.

Check the keyword difficulty score before you create #content. A low KD is helpful for sites without an established presence, says @JuliaEMcCoy via @CMIContent. #SEO Click To Tweet

Why? It’s impossible to rank for a keyword that established brands have already cornered. (That’s like a newbie runner trying to win a race against an Olympic athlete.) A low KD score essentially tells you the playing field is still open.

Metrics constantly change – which is why I recommend studying them on a weekly basis. Tools like Semrush, KWFinder, and Ahrefs are excellent for keyword data discovery.

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That brings me to the next metric when choosing keywords, especially if you have one eye on earning a featured snippet.

Relevance

If the keyword isn’t too competitive, ask yourself how relevant it is to your audience’s pain points.

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This boils down to figuring out the user search intent behind the keyword. What is their goal when they type that term into Google? Can you tie it to a pain point your brand solves?

For “marketing content writer,” the search intent is clear after looking at the search engine results page (SERP). The “People also ask” panel is telling:

Searchers want to understand what a “marketing content writer” is, what they do, and/or how to become one – and that is directly relevant to my business. The keyword was perfect for us to target in a blog article.

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TIP: What terms resonate with your audience’s location and/or culture? Consider this when going after your keyword search terms.

2. Structure your content for the searcher’s needs

Once you determine your keyword and content topic, you create the content that will raise the chance of Google pulling snippets from your article to feature.

Specifically, always aim to structure your content for the searcher’s needs.

From studying the search results for “marketing content writer,” we know the searcher wants to understand the what – what does a marketing content writer do? Thus, our article answers that question quickly, right underneath the first H2.

Note: While our focus keyword was “content marketing writer,” Google picked up on “marketing content writer” for this featured snippet. There is always a chance of unpredictability with the exact term you’ll earn the ranking for.

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Three things to note about this example:

  • Stating the searcher’s question in the H2 headline shines a spotlight, so it’s easy to find. Using the H2 also emphasizes its importance when Google crawls the page.
  • We answer the question by defining the search term – “A content marketing writer is …” This is featured snippet fodder, and it’s the snippet Google grabbed to display in the SERP.
  • We use keyword variations and synonyms as naturally as possible.

Let’s not forget the rest of the content. The remainder of the piece gives the searcher information they need about this topic ordered from most important to least. Again, all of this is guided by the existing search results page, including:

  • Addressing facets in the “People also ask” panel
  • Studying the content structure of the top five rankings
  • Viewing “related searches” for synonymous keywords

3. Aim for consistency across your content to build authority

If I could impart any advice about winning featured snippets, it’s this: A one-shot approach never works.

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Consistency matters across all your content. It directly contributes to your domain trust/authority, which is a known ranking factor.

If you only invest in hoped-for featured snippet pieces, your overarching web presence will still be far below Google’s standard. (Read: You won’t win snippets if only some of your content passes muster.)

Your content presence as a whole needs to check these points:

  • High quality
  • Comprehensive
  • Engaging
  • User-focused

Don’t cut corners: Your content must fire on all cylinders to win with Google, including featured snippets.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

4. Remember your end actions and goals

A featured snippet gives your brand a giant dollop of visibility in search. Almost all the time, they appear in the No. 1 organic position. If you earn one, make sure you’re taking advantage of the boost.

As you research keywords and create content, always think about your desired end actions/goals. What do you want your user to do, ultimately, once they click your link in the SERP? How will this path lead to a conversion? Ask this question every time to make sure you’re getting something out of these powerful rankings and placements in Google.

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In our article about “marketing content writers,” we include variations of a call to action inviting readers to watch a free class throughout the piece:

Our CTA pathway begins when the searcher clicks on our featured snippet for “marketing content writer” and ends when they apply for our program.

Keep your end goal top of mind throughout the creation process so that it won’t just earn featured snippets; it will also earn leads and customers.

All tools mentioned in the article are identified by the author. If you have a tool to suggest, add it in the comments.

Is your work award-worthy? You’ll never know unless you enter. Visit the Content Marketing Awards website to review the rules, study past winners, and sign up to get a reminder when the call for entries opens on March 7.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute





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MARKETING

How to Use Product Synonyms to Build Use Case Awareness & Scale SEO

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How to Use Product Synonyms to Build Use Case Awareness & Scale SEO

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Let’s move back in time to your third grade English class — lesson of the day: synonyms.

Synonyms (not to be confused with cinnamon) are words that have a similar or the same meaning as another word.

But, you already know this. What you might not know is how synonyms help you build use case awareness.

It all comes down to talking about your product in multiple ways, all of which are useful to your target audience. By expanding the ways you talk about your product, you attract more users, which in return scales your SEO strategy by giving you more relevant keywords to rank for (ideally even with high purchase intent – yes please!)

In fact, by finding and targeting product synonyms, you can even tap into a new unique selling point for your target market.

Let’s find out product-led SEO with synonyms can slingshot your growth forward.

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What is the value of synonyms for SEO?

First off, using synonyms is a common SEO best practice recommended by Google.

SEO guru and webmaster trend analyst, John Mueller, explains how synonyms work, particularly in connection with search intent and context:

…especially when you’re looking at something like ‘edit video’ versus ‘video editor,’ the expectations from the user side are a little bit different. On the one hand you want to edit a video. On the other hand you might want to download a video editor. And it seems very similar but… the things that the users want there are slightly different.”

So, when it comes to using product synonyms to scale your SEO strategy, the key is to align user search intent with a product use case that helps them.

I’d like to highlight how well this works not just for e-commerce, but also B2B, because those are the businesses that often struggle the most with low product-related search volume, making it seem like SEO just isn’t worth it. To add to that, there’s often a gap between what your audience calls your product and what you call it internally, so this strategy ensures both angles are covered.

Do this over and over again and not only will it expand your brand awareness, but it’ll also take a niche product with low search volume and turn it into a lead and sale generator — all from compounding hundreds of thousands of organic monthly searches (or more, depending on the topic).

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Let’s go over some examples.

Examples of product synonyms for SEO

A use case (or a roadmap for how your audience will interact with a product) is a fantastic way to apply product synonyms. If people learn how they can use your product, the more likely they’ll feel it’s relevant to them. The more detailed the use case, the more personal it feels to the reader.

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Examples of product synonyms in e-commerce

Product synonyms for e-commerce are pretty straightforward. For example, “occasionwear,” “wedding guest wear,” and “party wear” are all product synonyms that can be found as focus keywords at a made-to-order men’s suits store.

An online sport store may use synonyms such as “tennis shoes,” “sneakers,” and “trainers” to capture all target markets, for different levels of athletic wear.

Now let’s put it into practice.

What product synonyms would you use for “webcam” and “Bluetooth headphones”?

Maybe, “streaming camera,” “e-meeting camera,” or “Zoom camera”?

For Bluetooth headphones, what about “impermeable headphones” or “running headphones”?

It’s all about the use case that matches the same search intent.

Examples of product synonyms in B2B

In B2B, use cases become even more relevant, because one of the most common questions in the buying cycle is: “Is this truly relevant for my particular business?”

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Take a look at these phrases:

  • Conversational AI chatbot

  • Customer support automation

  • Product recommendation software

  • Omnichannel engagement platform

Even though these have vastly different use cases and are semantically different, the technology used produces the same outcome as what each phrase describes. In fact, it’s actually the exact same product (in this case a chatbot), only described with a different phrase. 

The trick in this particular example is to talk about how the main product, the chatbot, relates to all the above phrases. Rinse and repeat and now you’ve gone from a niche product with limited search volume to HubSpot level organic traffic — all of which is highly relevant for your target audience.

How to find & rank for product synonyms

Finding synonym opportunities for products requires a deep understanding of the market and the search behavior of buyer personas. In other words, learn what your audience wants and explain how your product gives them that in multiple ways.

Understand your product use cases

Let’s start with your product use cases. Where should you begin?

First, compile all related brand themes and then build topic clusters based on that.

Let’s say you sell eco-friendly swimsuits for all types of bodies and your topic clusters focus on eco-friendliness and swimsuits per body type. All topic cluster pages are connected to the central brand themes and your products, but talked about from different angles.

In B2B, it’s common to cluster product use cases by industry or method. For example, the “conversational AI chatbot” mentioned earlier might target e-commerce managers, while “customer support automation” is a use case aimed at customer success. In the same way, “product recommendation software” grabs attention from a product team and an “omnichannel engagement platform” captures the marketing team.

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With only these few keywords, we’ve described how nearly an entire business benefits from using a chatbot — sales here we come!

Benchmark competitors

Aside from generally making note of words that are being used on their website, it’s helpful to perform a competitor keyword gap analysis. This helps you determine words they’re ranking for that you aren’t (yet), which helps inspire new use cases.

Moz Pro dashboard for ranking keywords

Understand the language of your audience

Do some research to see how your target audience refers to your products in their own words. Often in B2B there is a big gap between their descriptions and yours. Take note of the words, phrases, and any other insights pertaining to the language being used.

Some places to poke around include Slack communities, social media (especially LinkedIn), and Reddit. Don’t shy away from in-person events, too! When you talk like your audience talks, you’ll resonate with them because your products are simple to understand. Walk their walk, and talk their talk!

Pro tip: Talk to your customers on a regular basis! Ask to set up a 15 minute feedback session and record it. It’ll bring you massive insights about how they talk about and use your product.

If your business is big on social media, then social monitoring and listening tools will be crucial for compiling lots of information quickly. Social monitoring obtains information that has already happened in the past, while social listening keeps an ear out for current conversations about your brand. Hootsuite offers an extensive social monitoring tool to “dive deep beneath the surface”, while Talkwalker offers social listening so you can keep up in real time.

Review People Also Ask and related searches

Google SERP features are a treasure trove of synonym opportunities. If you’re looking for “shoes”, you’ll probably see people are also searching for “sneakers”, “tennis shoes”, etc. You can use this feature to understand user search intent (which will help you find more aligned synonyms) and ensure you create the right type of content based on what’s already ranking.

The People Also Ask feature is similar to the “related searches” at the bottom of the SERP, and you can also use this to curate synonyms. 

Last but not least, utilize the auto-complete feature that suggests what you might type in the search bar:

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Google search for

Pro tip: Use AlsoAsked to dig a bit deeper into the People Also Ask questions from your potential consumers, and export the data graphically and in bulk. Answer all those questions and that’s a clear path toward SEO scalability!

Do keyword research

Without keyword research, creating your content and optimizing for SEO is like throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping that it sticks. Use a keyword research tool like Moz to find keywords based on use cases. This ensures the keywords are relevant, have search volume, and have relatively low competition. For a more in-depth guide on keyword research, be sure to check out this guide!

Once you’ve finished keyword research, turn the semantically-related keyword groups into clusters to create individual content pieces for each cluster. 

Differentiate keyword placement based on your site structure

All websites have core product pages, so the exact match of high-purchase-intent keywords should go on those to maximize the potential for sales.

Product synonyms that are semantically unrelated, but still have a relevant use case, can go in an area like the blog, where you can explain them more thoroughly and then link back to your core product pages to incentivize conversions.

To go back to the chatbot example, “conversational AI chatbot” works best on an evergreen product page, while “product recommendation software” might make more sense in the blog, because you’ve got to give some explanation about how the two are connected.

Let us wrap this up with a quick recap

First off: why use product synonyms? Synonyms for SEO increase the relevancy of your product pages for a specific search query. At the same time, they can also help you scale out content strategies in the future, thus strengthening your SEO game and brand awareness.

But never forget, first you must understand your product use cases. How do your customers use your product? How do they describe it? Go deep into this process to get those granular details. Look around to see what language your customers are using, scope out your competitors for inspiration, and do some extensive keyword research. Review the People Also Ask feature and related searches to gather more information and ensure you differentiate your keyword placement based on your specific site structure.

Now you’ve got the basics of using product synonyms to build use case awareness. Class dismissed!

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