Ranking number one in Google’s search results is the epitome of search engine optimization (SEO) success. Right?
Except this isn’t the case anymore. The power of the much-coveted No. 1 spot on Google’s search results is fast being diluted by Google’s featured snippets.
Since their introduction in 2014, featured snippets have changed SEO and content writing by transforming how content is displayed in search results and how users interact with that information. It benefits the user by providing a quick snapshot to satisfy their search query.
Except for you, it may not be great for a business trying to get clicks to your website. After all your hard SEO work to rank for No. 1, you’re potentially left with less traffic, all because of a featured snippet.
Ahrefs conducted a study of over 112 million keywords and reported, “When there’s a featured snippet at the No. 1 position, it only gets ~8.6 percent of clicks (on average), while the page that ranks right below it will get ~19.6 percent of clicks (on average).”
Compare this to search results that show no featured snippets, and the No. 1 search result, on average, attracts around 21 percent of all clicks. That’s nearly a 20 percent drop in clicks when a featured snippet is present!
This is why it’s now more important than ever to not only rank No. 1 ,but to conquer position 0, aka, the featured snippet, in search results.
Most websites still encounter challenges understanding how snippets work, their importance and how to take advantage of them to drive more traffic to their website.
See below for all you need to know about featured snippets and how to optimize them for your page.
A featured snippet is a direct, brief answer to queries at the top of Google’s search results page, appearing after the paid ads and before the organic results. Google usually pulls direct quotes from websites in the top five rankings. According to the Ahrefs study mentioned previously, approximately 30 percent of featured snippets are from the No. 1 ranking website.
Featured snippets improve the user experience by giving users recommended answers to their queries, so they don’t have to open any webpage. Since featured snippets are usually in the organic search results, the featured websites typically get a better click-through rate and more traffic.
Over 12 percent of search engine result pages (SERPs) have a featured snippet, according to Ahrefs. Click-through rates on these snippets differ depending on user intent and the content in the snippet. But if ranking in position ‘1’ meant more brand exposure, doing so in position ‘0’ yields even better results.
Featured snippets provide:
Google released a “SERP deduplication” update where the company announced that it would not display the web page in the No. 1 SERP if it already shows as a featured snippet. Hence the term, ‘position 0.’
Attracting clicks from featured snippets will depend primarily on the intent behind the search query and the original position of the page for the snippet. Short and sharp answers to a query can easily be satisfied directly from a featured snippet. In other cases, further explanation may require the user to click on the snippet for further information.
You will experience the most significant win if you previously ranked lower on the first page of search results and suddenly claimed a featured snippet. From here, you may get more clicks from the No. 1 ranking page on the SERP than you were prior, increasing your clicks and traffic considerably.
Featured snippets can help you outrank your competitors and, over time, get your website to the top of the SERP as the No. 1 search result, which can net you, on average, 32 percent of traffic from Google.
A featured snippet display is a fast way to get ahead of your competition in the SERP without competing directly with them.
Featured snippets are excellent for promoting your brand, even if it doesn’t result in a click. This is because the website in a featured snippet is the first thing users will see in their SERP. This is huge considering many searches are on a mobile device, and the featured snippets can take up a lot of space.
Over time, people will recognize your website as an authority in that field when your answers to questions always show on the first page of SERP.
You can use featured snippets for responses to voice-controlled personal assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, or Siri. A Backlinko analysis states that over 40.7 percent of the answers from voice searches come from featured snippets.
If you optimize your pages for voice searches, Google may use your answers for many voice search queries, giving you better brand visibility and high authority in your niche.
Featured snippets can come in four primary forms depending on the information you’re looking for. Understanding the appropriate type of snippet for your topic will help organize your content and give it the best possible chance of being a featured snippet on SERP.
Sometimes referred to as the definition box, these snippets give concise explanations or descriptions. You will mainly see paragraph snippets when users search for “what is,” “why,” “who,” and “when” query or those that have the word “definition.”
If you have featured snippets for this kind of query in your field or industry, there is a high chance you will be meeting users at the top of your sales funnel.
List snippets are in a list format that Google will typically extract from an unordered or ordered list on the web page. In addition, you will find anchor links at the top of a page in the header tags or a table of contents. This is why using proper semantic HTML is essential for your pages.
These snippets usually respond to “what” or “how” queries where step-by-step instructions or a list of items are most appropriate.
Table snippets are an easy way to present complex data and comparisons, making it simpler to understand . Google will automatically pull the data from a page and display it as a table.
Most tables contain rows and columns of values like years, rates, prices and other numerical data. About 6.3 percent of featured snippets are table types, usually including an average of five rows and two columns with about 40-45 words. Because of the space limitation of table snippets, it is not uncommon that the person will have to click on the page to view the complete information.
The final type of snippet is a video featured snippet. Most times, Google gets this video from YouTube, and it has a timestamp that will start at the section of the video directly answering the question. A Hubspot study states that you will see video snippets in many “How-to” search queries where the video title matches the search query.
Only 4.6 percent of featured snippets are videos, with the average video lasting 6 minutes and 35 seconds in length.
Using the keyword you wish to rank for, check the search results page to confirm whether Google wants you to show a featured snippet for that search query. It can also guide you on the featured snippet Google wants you to use for the term – paragraph, list, table, or video. Knowing the exact type of featured snippet Google is looking for is half the work; you can create content that matches the required snippet.
You can also identify these pages with featured snippets using SEO tools like Semrush or Ahrefs. First, check for keywords that your pages rank for but don’t currently have featured snippets. Then, filter the results by position to get keywords with a good chance of ranking for the snippets. This method can quickly identify keywords that don’t have a featured snippet.
Use these keywords to identify competitor pages that rank for those specific keywords and have captured featured snippets. If using Ahrefs or a similar SEO tool, a great way to make your search easier is to narrow down the lists according to volume.
After you check one of these pages, you may go back to organic research and paste the same URL to view what other keywords the page ranks for with the featured snippets.
Alternatively, you can do this manually by searching for a couple of keywords. If you have a list of potential keywords related to the piece or pages, run search queries for each of them and jot down whether their results have a featured keyword or not.
After identifying your pages and keywords that do not have featured snippets, you can optimize your web pages for them through some easy methods. Check below to learn how to optimize your pages, so Google places you in position ‘0’.
Google’s primary goal is to give its users the best possible answers to their search queries. To optimize your pages for featured snippets, use plain, concise language and include the keywords you have identified in your answer.
Check how the competition provides solutions to the questions and take a unique method to address them or do a better job. Here are some further tips for creating a targeted answer:
Match the format of the existing featured snippet within the content of your page you are ranking.
Paragraph Snippet: Provide a short 40 to 60-word snippet summarizing all the questions’ essential points. Include a query like “What is X” in your definition for easy setup and identification.
List Snippet: Include lists or steps on your page with correct headings that directly tie to the query. Use proper HTML tags and wrap every item in an H2 or H3 format if it is an ordered list.
Table Snippet: Often, Google will get content for table snippets from tables already present in the article rather than formatting them as a table. If your content uses any comparison or reviews, include a table at the beginning or end that summarizes your points.
Video Snippet: If you feel that a video best represents your topic, you can include links to the video snippet with correct timestamps accurately answering the questions. This is most relevant to “how-to” questions.
Add relevant images, the snippet query you’re answering and descriptive headers with keywords for the above snippets.
Proper SEO tactics not only help you rank better but also improve your chances of gaining a featured snippet. These methods include excellent URL structure, title tags, meta description tags, heading tags, etc. It also includes adding practical image alt attributes and internal links where necessary.
Even though it isn’t compulsory, adding schema markup to your website is beneficial for your website’s overall SEO. Schema markup helps provide a better search result experience by giving search engines additional information to understand your content better and present it appropriately.
Some words have a higher chance of generating snippets than others. These can be incorporated into your content to help encourage a featured snippet ranking. Examples include:
Optimizing your web pages for featured snippets is a continuous process. First, check metrics like impressions, CTR and rankings in Google Search Console and use SEO tools like Ahrefs to check for visibility and traffic.
Make optimizations to your content as needed. Google frequently changes its algorithms, so be aware of these changes and adjust your content accordingly.
Featured snippets can significantly improve your website’s CTR. So let the above guide help you conquer position 0 and gain more visibility and traffic.