With constantly evolving technology, search engines aim to provide a better user experience every day. Also, there is always a race amongst marketers to be in position one on search engine results pages or SERPs. However, this changed with the introduction of the ‘Featured Snippet’ in January 2014, where Google added a new position and named it ‘position zero’ or ‘zero position.’ If you don’t know much about it, don’t worry we will give you a crash course on everything you need to know.
What are Featured Snippets?
A Featured Snippet is a concise result aiming to answer the user’s query without them having to click through to a specific result on the SERP. The answer is selected from the top-ranking pages on the SERP and is displayed in a block above the first organic result and below the paid ads.
Since it is found right above the first organic search results, it is also known as ‘position 0’ or ‘zero position’. Also, here is how Google defines Featured Snippets.
What are the types of Featured Snippets?
The Paragraph or The Definition Box:
This answer or result appears in a paragraph format and is sometimes combined with a multimedia result. The Paragraph Featured Snippet is commonly used to answer what, when, why and who queries.
List Type Featured Snippet:
The List type Featured Snippet answers your query in a list or point wise format. This is further classified as the ordered list and unordered list.
- Ordered List: Here, a list of items or instructions are displayed in a particular order. An example of this would be a recipe for a specific dish.
- Unordered List: Here, Google displays a list of items that are not necessarily in a specific order.
Table Type Featured Snippet:
The Table type Featured Snippet will appear mostly for queries that show content containing multiple things like prices, rates, years or any other data available in numerical format. Here, Google looks for readily available tabular data on the page and does not create a table of its own from the on-page data.
Video Featured Snippet:
There is no specific guideline yet on how Google selects a video for featured snippets. However, some research around the topic shows that the video needs to have a transcription that is readable by the NLP (Natural Language Processing) tool. You can also link a separate non-transcription article or a detailed description of the video on YouTube with it. Try using relevant keywords in the audio of the video clip and be loud and clear. Preferably, reiterate the user’s query at the beginning of the video. This will help Google understand the purpose of the video and match it with the user’s query to display the video.
Why are Featured Snippets Important?
Appears reliable and adds credibility to the website:
Featured Snippets occupy a considerable amount of space on your device’s screen when compared to other results for your query. This result on the SERP looks more reliable or trustworthy and leads to brand awareness. Also, users tend to click more on this result, increasing your website credibility in Google’s ranking algorithm.
Increase in CTR:
There was distress in the SEO industry that Featured Snippets would hurt their traffic and people wouldn’t click and visit their sites. However, this myth did not last long. The SEOs have noticed a considerable increase in the CTR of the website.
Helping small websites compete with bigger competitors:
Featured Snippets are picked from the top 10 rankings on the SERP. This allows a small site featuring great content but placed at the bottom of the first page to jump to the top of the SERP (which accounts for 8% of the CTR).
They are answers to voice queries:
One of the important aspects of the Featured Snippet is that it is used to answer the voice search queries on mobile or other home assistance devices. Moreover, users are now getting comfortable with and using personal-assistance software like Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri more – hence, it is essential to aim to be featured in position 0.
How to Optimize for Featured Snippets?
Good SEO and knowledge:
Remember that the Featured Snippet is selected from the top 10 ranking websites. So, you first need to optimize your website to be displayed in the top 10 results for a search query. Also, a good understanding of the various types of Featured Snippets is required to know how to feature in them.
Use Structured Data Markup:
Using Structured Data Markup helps the search engine understand your website better. This can boost your chances to rank on the Featured Snippet. However, this does not guarantee the same.
Here is what John Mueller said about the use of structured markup:
“Independently, you’re always welcome to use structured data to provide better machine-readable context for your pages. Which may not always result in visible changes, but can still help our systems to show your pages for relevant queries.”
Use a Question-Answer format:
We have noticed that a majority of searches that rank in position zero are framed as questions. Using this format helps Google understand the relevance of your content with regard to the user’s query and can help you rank in the Featured Snippet.
Use simple and precise language while answering:
Always use simple language when you are trying to answer a user’s query. Remember to stick to the point and condense your answer into 50-60 words. Avoid adding your personal opinion to the answer and be unbiased.
Use H2 or H3 tags in your content:
Using H2 or H3 tags can help Google understand your content better, including the order of items in a list or steps of a process that you may be describing, and get you featured in the zero position for a particular query. This is especially important when you want to rank in a list type featured snippet for a query.
Example: A food recipe or a process to do a task.
Optimize your content for long-tail keywords:
As it is now known that featured snippets do appear for questions type of queries and long-tail keywords, we suggest you target keywords with questions. Moreover, SEMRush says, prepositions, comparisons, and other keywords also help to get featured in a Featured Snippet. You can use AHREFs tool to identify opportunities for a featured snippet. Target your keywords with questions like “what”, “why”, etc. You can refer to the ‘People also ask’ section on a SERP to find relevant long-tail queries.
Use of High-Quality Images:
According to a study by SEMrush, Featured Snippets use high-quality images with appropriate alt text. So, do not forget to optimize your alt texts for the images.
Competitor Analysis Always Helps:
Do a thorough competitor analysis for your keywords and check which of your competitors is ranking in the Featured Snippet. Do a detailed analysis of their content, on-page SEO, technical SEO and backlinks and optimize your website to replace them.
Featured Snippets can be a jackpot of free traffic if you optimize your website for them after adequately understanding what the user is looking for. And the best part is, you don’t have to be in the first position on a SERP. Although, Google does not keep the same result in position zero for long, optimizing your content is definitely worth the effort if you rank in the top 10 positions of the SERP.
Go ahead and implement the recommendations above to see how it works for you and let us know in the comment section below.
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