The first position in Google is attractive, as it gets 33% of all search traffic. Once you make it to the top, imagine what it would mean for online business’ earnings.
But to rank as number one is not an easy task to start with, especially if you’re in a competitive niche. There will always be smarter SEOs and with bigger pockets who will try to undermine your plans.
However, if you’re already on the first page of Google (that means you belong to the top 10), there’s a chance for you to get to position 0. We’re talking about featured snippets. What are featured snippets, why should you care, and how do you acquire one?
We’ll discuss these points below.
What are “featured snippets?”
A featured snippet is a tiny box displayed above the first position of organic search results and below paid results. It is also commonly referred to as “position 0” mainly because of its location.
Google decides which web page to show for a featured snippet based on the most relevant answer to a more advanced search query. Featured snippets were actually released in 2014 to provide a better search experience for users.
For example, if you want to learn the proper way to plant a tree or cook a recipe, featured snippets can help you with that.
Take note that simple queries are those that pertain to calculations, time and weather, and definition of terms. Google does not take answers to these queries from third-party sites and instead, uses its own knowledge base.
Be careful not to confuse yourself between a direct answer (to a simple query) and a featured snippet.
The screenshot above clearly shows a featured snippet after I typed into Google’s search box the web search query, “what is a featured snippet.”
As you can see, a featured snippet displays the exact section of an entire piece of content where a person finds the information he is looking for. At the same time, Google gives you the link to that webpage for your reference.
This is, in contrast, to direct answers on search results that do not have links to web pages.
It would help to think of featured snippets as Google’s method to provide answers to online searchers in a quick and concise way.
Take note that there’s a big chance that you’ll rank in position 0 if your content is already on the first page of SERPs. Based on a recent study by Ahrefs, 99.58% of featured snippets are those that already belong to the top 10.
So if you’re in position 10, position 0 gives you that glimmer of hope. It’s pretty obvious that appearing in that little box above position 1 puts you in a favorable spot over the rest.
However, it is also not uncommon to hear of sites on page 2 of Google acquiring that highly coveted position 0.
Types of Featured Snippets
There are different kinds of snippets. In this article, I’m going to show you the 3 most common ones based on people’s search queries:
1. List Type
Let’s say you want to look for web content that’ll teach you how to use Lenses in Snapchat. Based on your search query, you’re more likely to get a list type of featured snippet:
The list type of featured snippet is shown in response to “how-to” search queries (those that involve processes). You can easily identify this featured snippet since it shows bullet points or numbered lists.
2. Paragraph type
You get the paragraph type of featured snippet if your query can be answered in one sentence or paragraph. In the example below, I wanted to know the meaning of online marketing. Google showed me a featured snippet on the topic which belonged to a web page in position 4:
3. Table type
If you’re looking for a price comparison, let’s say, baggage prices for United Airlines, Google will show you a table type of snippet to answer your query:
Why should I rank for featured snippets?
The fact that online searchers intuitively click on the topmost result of Google gives websites in featured snippets a competitive advantage. Next, I’ll explain how ranking for position 0 gets you a boost in SEO.
Brand awareness and authority
Engagement and sales start with an increase in brand awareness. Today’s tech-savvy generation judge the credibility of a business based on its web presence. If people don’t find you online, you’re irrelevant.
Featured snippets are becoming more important. Small business owners online realize that being in position 0 helps them get the word out about their brand.
If your website content shows prominently on Google search, this tells people that you’re the authority on a subject matter. Consequently, your visibility encourages people to visit your site again and again for information on similar topics.
You’ll gain more direct visits and improve your word-of-mouth marketing.
Consider getting featured in position 0 extremely beneficial to your marketing. Smaller brands agree that working on enhancing awareness and authority is challenging especially with more established brands before them.
Click-through rate (CTR)
Going back to Ahrefs’ study, they found out that featured snippets steal clicks from the first ranking position on search results.
If your content is lucky enough to be chosen by Google as a featured snippet, more people are likely to click on your page than the one right beneath it (position 1).
This should not come as a surprise to you because again, the goal of featured snippets is to answer your questions precisely, whether or not you choose to read the entire piece of content.
Search Engine Land conducted a similar study to understand the impact of a position 0 ranking. They optimized and tracked a page.
When it got displayed as a featured snippet, its click-through rate increased from 2% to 8% (see image above). Note that during the period the page was analyzed, it never ranked higher than the fourth position on search results.
Take a look at the graph above from Search Engine Land. As the CTR of the featured snippet increased, the site’s revenue increased as much as 677%.
This demonstrates that higher visibility on search gets you a hoard of click-throughs and traffic which potentially leads to more sales.
Remember that the more visible you are online, the more likely potential customers will turn to you for products and services in the future.
How to rank for “position 0”
Landing the position 0 is a wonderful opportunity. Along with that, site owners in the top 10 must understand one thing: You cannot force your page to get into Google’s featured snippet.
However, there are factors or aspects that are common among that sites that got into position 0. The strategies below are worth a try (since position 0 is so enticing after all) and will increase your opportunities to enjoy more visibility, click-throughs, and sales.
1. Look for keyword opportunities
Keyword research is a great place to start when you’re looking to steal a featured snippet.
Basically, these are search terms that you want your content to rank for that already qualifies you for position 0 (as they did for other sites). Uncovering these potential keywords will also help you find the right questions to answer.
There are tools and methods that’ll power up your keyword research for ranking in position 0:
“People also ask”
Try to type a search term into Google’s search box to check for a featured snippet on the topic. You will find a list of potential keywords to rank for position 0 under the “People also ask” section. This usually accompanies featured snippets.
In the example below, note that I searched for the topic “content curation.” Right beneath the featured snippet is a “People also ask” section:
Content that addresses queries such as what, who, how, and so on, are often placed in featured snippets. Notice that in the “People also ask” box above, you’ll see questions like What is curation marketing? What does it mean to curate content?
Once you decide on a topic to write about and find related questions, try to answer them.
This SEO analysis tool has the ability to filter results to reveal featured snippets. Using it, you’ll be able to the keywords in the featured snippets that your competitors are ranking for.
In Ahrefs, you need to enter their Site Explorer tool. Once you’re in the tool, make sure to enter a competitor domain. You should be in the tool’s Organic keywords section. Confirm this by checking the left panel.
To filter out the results, choose the options “Target domain must be featured” and “Featured snippet.” After you apply the filters, you’ll get a list of keywords that trigger featured snippets.
Answer the Public
I consider Answer the Public a highly valuable tool to optimize for actual questions that people ask on Google and Bing every second.
Answer the Public works by capturing autosuggest results on those two search engines to automatically deliver them to you.
Simply enter a term or phrase into Answer the Public and click the search button. In my example above, I entered the keyword “blogging.”
Here are some of the queries I got from that search:
- How blogging is done
- Which blogging platform to choose
- Tips when blogging
- Why blogging matters
Again, questions such as these trigger featured snippets. Based your new content or tweak an existing on these queries.
2. Make sure you answer questions well
Now that you’ve got your researched keywords, your next move would be to answer people’s queries as thoroughly and as detailed as possible.
This is where you challenge yourself to be better than your competitors. Take a closer look at the content of sites in featured snippets. Your content doesn’t have to be very long.
Let’s say you want to write an article that teaches your audience to build their own websites. You run a Google search and use the search terms “how to build a website.” There’s an article on the topic that ranks in position 0:
Study how the writer crafted this article. Notice how he carefully tackles each step of the process and how he uses a lot of screenshots to support it.
Write your own version in a way that is more detailed, and even a beginner can understand. Provide keyword-rich answers. If you can find any additional information that’s not in your competitor’s content, include it.
You can tweak the design or structure of your content, dive into detail, or whatever it is that’ll optimize your content.
Search Engine Journal also recommends that you structure your content using the “inverted pyramid” style. Start your article by answering the question directly. Begin with your conclusion. After you display your most important information, explain it further for the rest of your article.
3. Increase your website engagement
Larry Kim speculates that your site engagement influences the featured snippet selection process. These engagement metrics are the following:
- Average time on page
- Click-through rate
One of his articles on WordStream on getting more Bing Rewards Points got a featured snippet despite its ranking in position 10.
Looking into Google Search Console, he noticed that the content had superb engagement metrics. It had a time on site of 14 minutes and 30 seconds, an average CTR of 21.43%, and 32,211 unique pageviews.
Work on improving your engagement. Focus on quality content that caters to your readers’ needs and provokes their thoughts. Don’t forget user experience. Boost your website speed. Be sure that your content looks on on any device, especially mobile.
Ranking for position 0 is a surefire way to get ahead of your competition. You outperform the first result on SERPs through a boost in visibility, traffic, and ROI.
Increase your chances to rank for featured snippets by providing direct and concise answers based on the keyword opportunities you discover. Pay close attention to your readers’ experiences as well.
It would be best to always write content with featured snippets in mind. Though they’re not the ultimate SEO solution, they definitely provide you with great results.