Google’s crawlers and search backend are getting more and more powerful. One of the more recent ways this power is being leveraged involves delivering snippets of sites, rather than sites as a whole, as the result of user queries. You’ve probably noticed that Google now tries to answer some questions in the search box with a big snippet of a site at the very top of the results. Optimizing your page content so that you’ve got a reasonable shot of winning that box for queries in your niche can go a very, very long way towards bringing you lots of traffic.
In general, producing quality content that users actually find useful is a powerful first step towards achieving this goal. Google absolutely pays attention to what users actually click on when they see a snippet at the top of their search results. The worst thing you can do is win the box a few times and then lose it forever when Google notices that users are simply scrolling by your SEO-optimized non-useful information. Focus on quality first.
Another simple strategy for earning the right to post snippets from your pages in search results involves targeting the right keywords. Keywords with lots of terms are much more likely to generate snippets when they’re searched in Google. This makes it even more important to target long-tail and long-term keywords with your content. Writing a hundred variations of a similar article for a hundred slightly different keywords isn’t fun or glamorous, but it’ll definitely help out your algorithm scores.
Finally, make sure the content on your pages is formatted in a way that’s likely to generate snippets. The current ‘best guess’ involves having a section of your content that’s led by a question followed by a short, concise answer to that question. The rest of your content can then delve into an SEO-optimized explanation of that answer. The concise answer doesn’t have to be in normal boring sentences, either. Google will post videos, tables, and lists as snippets when it feels like they better answer user questions than regular article text.