You’ve probably seen this box before. The piece of content showcased at the top of search engine result pages that answer your searched questions directly. They’re called Google Featured Snippets or “rich answers,” and they’re the most coveted spot on SERPs today. Imagine spending a ton of effort ranking for the #1 position of search engine rankings, only to be overshadowed by this content section on top.
All about Featured Snippets (Position 0)
According to RankRanger, about 9% of search queries already have a featured snippet. It contains the URL, page title, and 50- to 100-word snippet of the featured page’s content. All snippets aim to answer the searcher’s question.
Google has stated that its bots and crawlers “programmatically detect pages that answer the user’s question, and display a top result as a featured snippet in the search results.” These snippets appear at the top of the search results page, higher than the normal search results, (which is why they’re called Position 0 rankings).
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Although many webmasters were doubtful of how Google’s Featured Snippets removed the need for a visitor to click the site, this impression has changed thanks to several case studies comparing traffic and click-through rates.
So how can a website be “chosen” as Google’s Featured Snippet?
Unfortunately, Google hasn’t released any official process for applying as a featured snippet. The search engine giant still has control over which website gets the coveted spot. It isn’t a case of ranking first at the SERPs either – since some featured snippets come from the second page of search results.
The cool thing about featured snippets is that it gives websites beyond page 1 of search results a chance to compete against the big guys. As long as you answer the question a searcher keys into Google, you can technically beat the top-ranking websites by landing the special Position 0. In fact, Moz analyzed 981 featured snippets and discovered that 70% of them ranked #1 to #3, while the remaining 30% were spread over positions #4 to #71.
One thing we’re certain about Google’s Featured Snippet – they were created to help people find answers to their question-based queries quickly. As such, the best way to increase your website’s chances of being chosen as a featured snippet is to provide value to visitors by answering the questions they’re searching for, and to optimize your content. Here’s how:
1. Answer Questions Your Target Market Might Ask Google
Because Google designed featured snippets to answer questions, the first thing you need to do is understand your target market. They are the ones who will ask Google about information, product, service, or idea you’re offering. If your SEO company offers video marketing services, your target market could be searching for terms like “how to increase YouTube views,” “how to improve YouTube earnings,” and so on.
2. Perform Question-Based Keyword Research
If you know a thing or two about keyword research, you’re already halfway there. Like any other keyword research, it’s important to check out your competition, find synonyms of keywords, and stick with organic keywords. Use your favorite tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, WordStream, or SEMRush, as you explore search terms that begin with how, what, why do, how to, what did, why does, and more.
Note that because people now search using voice, queries these days are conversational. Consider this when performing your keyword research.
3. Provide Answers and Valuable Information
Aside from answering the searchers question, your website must also provide additional value to every visitor. The content you write should be in-depth, useful, and provide as much details as possible. Many featured snippets are how-to guides, tutorials, and step-by-step processes, so take inspiration from these pages.
Add infographics, photos, screenshots, videos, and other media that would help in answering questions. The article should be formatted into readable parts, instead of a long chunk of text. In short, make it as reader-friendly as possible. Don’t forget to optimize the page as well.
4. Answering Multiple Questions in One Go
If your website doesn’t have a blog, you can still try to land the featured snippet by adding a Q&A, FAQs or How-To page. This is a great strategy to answer multiple questions at once, without forcing it on other site locations that doesn’t make sense.
5. Steal Your Competition’s Thunder
If all the questions you research already have corresponding featured snippets, you can still steal your competition’s thunder. Study these snippets and determine their weaknesses. To kick out the existing snippet, you’ll have to write an up-to-date answer with more details, better infographics, more SEO-friendly, or a page with higher rankings. The more improved version of the answers you can craft, the better.
The Bottom Line
The steps above won’t guarantee you’ll be given the spot of featured snippet in a particular query, but these increase your site’s chances tenfold. Search Engine Land checked out the analytics of one site featured in a snippet, which received 516% in click-through rates (CTRs) and increased conversion from 2% to a whopping 8%. This alone can be your reason to optimize content for Featured Snippets.
However, even if you’re not aiming to get that coveted spot, you’re still improving your site optimization, adding value to visitors, and increasing your authority within your niche. Google will still love you either way.