5 Easy Steps
As Google continues to improve the information that is available on the search engine results page you will notice more and more integrated content coming above the top results on the SERP. One example is the “People Also Ask” section, where Google will provide selected questions and answers that the user can read without needing to leave Google. One part of this is Google’s “How-to” section. Find out how to make it more likely your content shows up in the How-to section.
Take it Step by Step
The first step is to use the markup (semantic HTML 5) tools that you have available to you. If you’re creating steps to explain how to do something then make sure they’re set up like that in your post. This will make it easier for Google to read and classify the page as content that can be displayed in that format.
So, try to mirror the format that Google is already using for other how-to’s and keep your steps a similar size to the ones Google chooses to display.
Exactly What it Says on The Tin
Another way to try and load the dice in your favor is by making sure the title and URL clearly state what you’re talking about. No need for a clever title on posts like this. If you’re giving users a post on How to Make the Best Omelette in 5 Steps, why don’t you call the post that and make the URL /how-to-make-the-best-omelette-in-5-steps.
Cover All Types of Learner
The solution presented in Google isn’t always a text list, so make sure you’re covering your bases by creating a video of the how-to problem that you’re solving too. Not only will this potentially display on the SERP, but, if you host it on YouTube, it will also be seen by people searching on YouTube. YouTube is full of short how-to videos, and mini-tutorials make up a large percentage of the daily search queries on the video platform.
Make it Viral
The elephant in the room with this post is traffic. The biggest indicator Google will look to when deciding if it can display your content directly on the SERP is traffic. You might write the best how-to on sink unblocking in the world, but if only your mom and uncle ever visit the page, it’s not going to rank.
Try and make the page as linkable as possible. Add images, update it from time to time, share it on social media, make sure it has a compelling meta description. Basically, do all the things you would normally do to optimize a page. Then, if you’re lucky, your content might be displayed.
How to Make the Front Page!
Updated 9/7/2018 Note: Since first writing this post we have seen our content featured on the SERP, although for a definition, not a “How To” post.
However, the principle behind why our content was featured is exactly the same as we’ve outlined in the above post. It is clear from the page URL and the text of the post that we are defining what semantic SEO is. We’ve also used vocabulary like “refers to” which further helps Google understand the context of the written content.
As for making the page go viral, our Semantic SEO page is on the front page of Google (at the time of writing it was on the 4th spot) and it performs fairly well, but it isn’t by any means our best performing page. Meaning that traffic as a ranking signal for featured extracts on the SERP may not be as important as we first thought.
So our simple advice is this: write clear good quality content.
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