What Are Featured Snippets? Conquering ‘Position 0’ On Google

What Are Featured Snippets? Conquering ‘Position 0’ On Google

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Ranking number one in Google’s search results is the epitome of SEO success. 

Right?

Except this isn’t the case anymore. The power of the much-coveted #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 the user interacts with that information. It benefits the user by providing a quick snapshot to satisfy their search query. 

Except for you, as a business trying to get clicks through to your website, it may not be so great. 

After all your hard SEO work to rank for #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 that, “When there’s a featured snippet at the #1 position, it only gets ~8.6% of clicks (on average), while the page that ranks right below it will get ~19.6% of clicks (on average).”

Compare this to search results which show no featured snippets, and the #1 search result, on average, attracts around 21% of all clicks. That’s nearly a 20% drop in clicks when a featured snippet is present!

This is why it’s now more important than ever to not only rank #1, but to conquer the 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.

Check below to find out all you need to know about featured snippets and how to optimize them for your page.

What Is A Featured Snippet?

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 5 rankings. According to the Ahrefs study mentioned previously, approximately 30% of featured snippets are from the #1 ranking website.

image 20

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.

Why Optimize Your Posts For Featured Snippets?

Over 12% 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:

  1. Improved Click-Through-Rate (CTR)

Google released a “SERP deduplication” update where the company announced that it would not display the web page in the #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.

Where you will experience the biggest win is if you were previously ranking lower on the first page of search results and suddenly claimed a featured snippet. From here, you may get more of the clicks from the #1 ranking page on the SERP than you were prior, increasing your clicks and traffic considerably.

  1. Improved rankings 

Featured snippets can help you outrank your competitors and, over time, get your website to the top of the SERP as the #1 search result, which can net you on average 32% 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.

  1. Better brand awareness

Featured snippets are excellent for promoting your brand even if it doesn’t result in a click. 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.

  1. Optimize your Results for voice searches

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% of the answers from voice searches come from featured snippets.

image 15

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.

What Do Feature Snippets Look Like? 4 Main Snippets Overview

Featured snippets can come in 4 primary forms depending on the information you’re looking for. 

  • Paragraph snippets
  • List (number of bullets) snippets
  • Table snippets
  • Video snippets

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.

  1. Paragraph snippets

Sometimes referred to as the definition box, these snippets give a short and concise explanation or description. 

You will mainly see paragraph snippets when users search for “what is,” “why,” “who,” and “when” query or those that have the word “definition.”

image 19

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.

  1. List (number of bullets) snippets

List snippets are in a list format that Google will typically extract from an unordered or ordered list on the web page. 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.

image 18

These snippets usually respond to “what” or “how” queries where step-by-step instructions or a list of items are most appropriate.

  1. Table snippets

Table snippets are an easy-to-understand way to present complex data and comparisons. Google will automatically pull the data from a page and display it as a table.

image 17

Most tables contain rows and columns of values like years, rates, prices, and other numerical data. 

About 6.3% of featured snippets are table types, usually containing 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.

  1. Video snippets

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.

image 20

About only 4.6% of featured snippets are videos, with the average video lasting 6 minutes and 35 seconds in length.

How To Find Featured Snippet Opportunities

  1. Check the search results page

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, then you can go ahead and create content that matches the required snippet.

You can also identify these pages with featured snippets using SEO tools like Semrush or Ahrefs. 

Check for keywords that your pages rank for, but you don’t currently have featured snippets for. 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.

  1. Compare with your competitors

Use these keywords to identify competitor pages that rank for those specific keywords and which have captured featured snippets. 

If using Ahrefs or similar SEO tool, a great way to make your search easier is narrowing 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.

  1. Identifying low-hanging fruit with Google Search Console

To uncover potential featured snippet opportunities for your published content using Google Search Console, follow these steps:

  • Open Google Search Console and navigate to the Performance dashboard.
  • Make sure you tick the box to display positions alongside your queries.
  • Use the filter feature to find queries that contain question phrases such as “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how.”
image 16
  • Sort the results by position in ascending order.
  • For each set of question phrases, export the list. Prioritize queries with the highest impressions that aren’t already in position #1 to target the most valuable opportunities.
  • For each prominent query, analyze the featured snippet to identify areas where you can improve your content.

With these steps, you can effectively pinpoint and capitalize on potential featured snippet positions for your content you already have published.

How To Optimize For Featured Snippets 

After identifying your pages and keywords that do not have featured snippets, you can optimize your web pages for them through some easy methods. 

Here are 5 best practices to keep in mind when optimizing for the featured snippet.

  1. Answer questions concisely

Google’s main goal is to give its users the best possible answers to their search queries. 

To optimize your pages for featured snippets, use plain, concise and brief 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:

  • Writing a short stand-alone paragraph that answers the main title question
  • Placing the paragraph in the first 500 words of the content
  • Writing a paragraph prior to the answer paragraph that sets it up
  • Keeping the answer paragraph length between 50 and 300 characters
  • Making the answer paragraph bold
  • Writing the paragraph in the most formal and direct way possible
  1. Match the featured snippet format

Match the format of the existing featured snippet within the content of your own page you are ranking.

Paragraph Snippet: Provide a short 40–60-word snippet that summarizes all the essential points in the question. 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 query. Use proper HTML tags and if it is an ordered list, wrap every item in an H2 or H3 format.

Table Snippet: Often, Google will get content for table snippets from tables already present in the article rather than formatting it as a table themselves. 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 all of the above snippets.

  1. Use proper SEO methods

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.

  1. Use specific trigger keywords

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:

TimeGeneral questionsTransitionStatus
oftendoformingis
yearsdosebecomebe
deadlinecausebecomingwas
lastcausesremovinganother
whendefineclosingan
  1. Continue optimizing your content 

Optimizing your web pages for featured snippets is a continuous process. 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 make changes to its algorithms, so be aware of these changes and adjust your content accordingly.

How To Keep Track Of Featured Snippets

  1. Use paid featured snippet tracking tools

If you are serious about tracking your featured snippet rankings and improving your content strategy, I recommend using a paid featured snippet tracking tool:

  • Ahrefs
  • Semrush

These tools do all the heavy lifting for you. Automating the process of monitoring your ranking for featured snippets and identifying opportunities to improve your content strategy.

  1. Free manual approach

If you don’t want to pay for a featured snippet SEO tool, you can manually track your featured snippets using Google Search Console. 

To do this, use the filter feature to find queries that contain question phrases such as “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how.” Look at the feature snippet keywords for which you rank in the top 10 positions.

Then, check the SERP in an incognito browser to see if your pages are ranking for featured snippets for those keywords.

Expert SEO Tip: There is a hidden ranking queue for featured snippets. You can use the search parameter ‘-site:’ to exclude the website currently occupying the snippet, which can be helpful for identifying who is next in line for a featured snippet. Here is a search query example, [-site:competitor.com how to rank #1 on google]. This is a sweet tactic to track your competitive progress.

Featured Snippets and Google’s SGE: The Future of Search

The future of featured snippets is bright, thanks to Google’s SGE (Search Generative Experience). 

SGE is making featured snippets more dynamic, informative, and user-centric, paving the way for a new era of search where users can seamlessly access and explore the world’s knowledge in a more intuitive and personalized way.

Businesses should adapt and optimize their content for featured snippets to stay ahead of the curve and harness the full power of search in the future, while remaining flexible and adaptable to Google’s ever-evolving SGE.

As with all aspects of SEO, stay flexible, stay up to date, adjust strategies as needed, and stick to best practices. 

By embracing featured snippets to conquer position ‘0’, businesses can unlock more opportunities to connect with their target audience and drive growth.


About the author: Matt Uebergang is the SEO Manager of the Shopify marketing agency Digital Darts. He’s a digital marketing ninja, with a black belt in SEO who has perfected the art of juggling – not balls, but the latest trends in the digital marketing world. When not immersed in SEO, he might be contemplating the philosophical implications of a well-optimized meta description.

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