How to Optimize for Featured Snippets and Position Zero in 2024

Optimize for Featured Snippets

Google’s highlighted snippets grab 35.1% of all clicks in organic searches. They’re like a magic ticket to the very top of search results, even beating position one. This special spot is called position zero because it shows up above the regular results.

Reaching the top of Google’s search results is tough.

But it’s not impossible. Even if you’re not in first place, you can still beat others.

But how? Can you really do this?

Yes, by getting a featured snippet.

In this article, we’ll talk about what featured snippets are, how they work, why they’re good, and how you can make your content better to get them.

Let’s get started.

What Are Featured Snippets on Google?

Google started showing highlighted snippets in its search results in 2014. Even now, it’s one of the most important changes to how Google’s search engine works, and it has really changed the world of SEO. Google is always looking for ways to quickly and easily match what people search for with the most relevant information.

This is why they came up with the highlighted snippet. It’s a special kind of search result that appears at the very top of Google’s results, even before the first regular search result. It includes a short piece of information that Google thinks either answers the user’s question or is interesting enough to make them click and learn more.

When you’re dealing with featured snippets for SEO, it’s smart not to give away all the information upfront. Instead of directly answering a question in a snippet, it’s better to provide a bit of the answer and encourage users to click on your link for more details.

Featured snippets, regardless of the type, can boost your brand and get more clicks, so it’s a good idea to look into them. Wondering where Google finds these snippets? Usually, it picks pages that are already among the top ten or top five in its list. So, if you want your snippets to work well, make sure you have a solid and successful SEO strategy in place.

Every featured snippet, no matter what type, will include the following parts:

  • Information that directly relates to the search question.
  • The title of your webpage.
  • The specific web address (URL).
  • An image sourced from Google Images that corresponds to the keyword.

A highlighted snippet can come in various forms, not just as a paragraph of text. Let’s delve into each type to get a better understanding.

Learning the Types of Featured Snippets

Featured snippets typically appear in four main formats:

  • Paragraphs
  • Bulleted/numbered lists
  • Tables
  • Videos

The most common type is a paragraph snippet, but a snippet can also present information in three other ways.

Google can choose content from top-ranking websites and display it as a highlighted snippet in various formats, depending on the search query.

Paragraph Snippets

Paragraph snippets are incredibly popular, making up a staggering 82% of all featured snippets.

A short piece of information about a topic is what we call a paragraph snippet. If you want more people to click on your content, pay attention to these paragraph snippets. This is because a paragraph usually doesn’t have enough space to fully explain a topic. It just gives a hint or a brief explanation.

Paragraph snippets always show up next to pictures on Google, but these images might not be from the same website as the snippet. Instead, Google picks an image from its collection that fits the search.

In the example mentioned, the snippet has words you can click on to find more snippets, known as the ‘People Also Ask’ section.

When you choose a word, the search words switch to that word, and you’ll get a new piece of information about it.

Just keep in mind that making your page stand out in search results is about encouraging readers to click for more details. When writing short paragraphs for these quick info sections, avoid giving away all the answers.

List Snippets

The second most common type of snippet is a list snippet. They make up 10.8% of all snippets and usually answer step-by-step or multiple-choice questions.

Google sometimes provides a highlighted snippet in a list format. This can be either in bullet points or numbers. Google likes using a list for questions that need clear instructions. 

Examples include recipes or things arranged in a particular order, like movie franchises or books. It’s a way to show the ‘best’ of something, like software tools or televisions. Usually, Google makes these lists using a special code from your website.

Table Snippets

Table snippets make up only 7.28% of highlighted snippets. This is because not all information is set up to work well in this format.

The table snippet is the third and less common type of featured snippet. Google will show a simple table with information about the search topic.

To create it, Google gathers details from web pages and organizes them into a table. Table snippets are often used for searches involving numbers and graphs. For instance, if you’re checking the crime rates in a particular city.

Video Snippets

Google might add a link to a related YouTube video in the highlighted summary, complete with a time stamp showing where the question gets answered in the video. These are called ‘suggested clips,’ and only YouTube videos are shown (which makes sense since Google owns YouTube).

If you don’t create marketing videos, you don’t need to focus on optimizing for video snippets. However, it’s not clear when, how, or why Google will use a YouTube featured snippet.

Why are featured snippets important in SEO?

1. Improved rankings

Highlighted snippets can be a game-changer, propelling you to the very top of search engine results and leaving your competitors behind. This is crucial, especially if your page is already ranking in the top ten but isn’t getting the traffic it deserves from Google.

Being featured in a snippet gives you a significant advantage because you’re not battling head-to-head with other results.

2. Increased CTR (sometimes)

Featured snippet pages might attract more clicks than regular search results, but this isn’t guaranteed.

Before, pages featured in snippets also appeared among the top ten search results.

So, a page highlighted as a snippet got a traffic boost since it showed up twice on the first search results page.

But, Google’s “SERP deduplication” update altered this.

The number of clicks a highlighted snippet gets depends on why someone’s searching and where the snippet’s page ranks.

For “no-click searches,” like when someone just wants a fast answer, featured snippets don’t get many clicks.

The featured snippet might take away some clicks from the top-ranking page on the search engine results page (SERP).

Based on the “Ahrefs’ Study Of 2 Million Featured Snippets,” featured snippets often attract a portion of the traffic that would have otherwise gone to the page ranked first – roughly 30% of clicks on the #1 ranking page may be diverted to the featured snippet.

This can result in a notable increase in traffic for any page that was previously positioned lower on the first SERP.

3. Improved Brand Awareness

The highlighted snippet is a great chance to boost your brand because it’s the first thing people see in search results.

This is super important, especially on mobile. Think about how much room that snippet can fill up!

When you optimize for featured snippets, it helps people get to know your brand better and see you as an expert in your industry.

4. Optimized for voice search

Voice-activated personal assistants like Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Assistant rely on featured snippets.

Google’s highlighted snippets, as per Backlinko’s findings, makeup over 40% of voice search responses.

Optimizing your websites for these snippets can help Google use your content to answer numerous search queries, boosting your brand’s visibility and authority within your industry.

Google’s Other SERP Features That Aren’t Featured Snippets

Apart from the highlighted information boxes, Google includes other elements in its search results that look quite similar. It’s important to differentiate between them because optimizing for featured snippets, as opposed to knowledge cards or entity carousels, can enhance your SEO.

In simpler terms, you can work on improving your chances of appearing in featured snippets. Achieving this is not possible with the other search result features since they are random and don’t specifically showcase any particular website.

Knowledge cards and entity carousels work differently. A knowledge card is much like a featured snippet, but there’s a key difference: it doesn’t gather information from a single source. Instead, all the information comes from Google’s Knowledge Graph.

These features are Google’s way of making things easier for users, and they don’t have anything to do with SEO.

Knowledge cards and graphs are often used to quickly answer simple questions (like when a company started), do math, and give weather predictions. Think of them as boxes with answers instead of fancy bits of information.

An entity carousel is a bunch of links that show related topics. If you search for a band’s list of albums on Google, you might find an entity carousel. It looks like a row of links where you can scroll through all their albums from left to right.

It’s also common for a movie’s cast and crew to show up in an entity carousel. Each ‘entity’ has a link to the IMDB page of each actor and crew member.

Some Featured Snippet Statistics: 

Results from a study conducted by Mangools:

  • Highlighted snippets show up in about 12.3% of the things people search for, getting about 8.6% of the clicks.
  • Each example paragraph has about 272 characters on average.
  • Featured snippets pop up in 23% of comparisons.
  • For 4.7% of common words, Google highlights a snippet.
  • With nearly all (99%) questions, you get a part of a paragraph as an answer. Out of those, 52% are in a list format.
  • A list in the snippet can’t have more than eight things.
  • Most of the website links in the special boxes (70%) use HTTPS.

What Can Featured Snippets Do For You?

If you’re not sure whether to aim for highlighted snippets, consider these benefits. In general, a web page with a featured snippet tends to get more clicks than one without.

According to Hubspot, content with a featured snippet has a 2x higher click-through rate (CTR) compared to content without one. So, even if you think your featured snippet completely answers the question but might lose some clicks, having it is still better than not having it.

Need proof? Moz’s Cyrus Shepard tried not using Google’s highlighted snippets for one of his articles. As a result, even though the article was a strong candidate for a snippet, Google couldn’t use it.

The study focused on the notion that short pieces of information, like responding to a user’s question, can harm your natural search rankings and cause a drop in website visitors. Surprisingly, the findings showed the opposite. When his posts no longer showed up as quick answers, he quickly noticed a 12% decrease in website visitors. This highlights how important it is to have a quick answer featured at the top.

Besides boosting natural traffic, quick answers are great for promoting your brand. Users will recall that you addressed their question, and the fact that you rank high on Google reflects positively on your brand.

How to Earn Featured Snippets

Alright, now that you’ve seen the value in optimizing for highlighted snippets, how do you get started?

Include the snippet style in your content marketing plan. We suggest a two-step approach:

  • Use ‘snippet-friendly’ keywords. Certain words like ‘how,’ ‘recipe,’ and ‘best’ pop up in featured snippets more often. Also, focus on terms that prompt questions.
  • Tailor content for snippets. We’ll delve into this more below, but you’ll need to tweak your text in specific ways to boost the chances of Google showing a snippet.

Let’s dive deeper into every step of the process.

Featured Snippet Keyword Selection 

Exploring keywords is the initial move to understand what people are searching for. You can employ online tools to make short descriptions.

To locate the right keywords for your website’s featured snippets, check a couple of places.

Also, take a look at your Google Search Console (GSC) account to see which keywords you already rank high for. These are the ones most likely to prompt a snippet.

To get started, open Google Search Console (GSC) and go to the Search Results Performance Report. Then, filter the information to display only keywords that ask questions. Because GSC has some restrictions, you’ll need to respond to each question word by word.

Arrange your queries in a way that puts the most important keywords at the top. Prioritize the top ten keywords for highlighted snippets.

Alternatively, you can use WooRank’s Keyword Tool to analyze SERP features. This tool indicates whether a keyword is likely to show up in a featured snippet or not.

You should look for:

  • Check out web pages that are already doing well on search engines, like in the top 10 or top 5 results.
  • Focus on a web page that isn’t at the very top because snagging the featured snippet can boost you to the number one spot and help you outshine your competitors.
  • Opt for a keyword that leads to a snippet which doesn’t completely answer the question.
  • Look for keywords that have an informative purpose.

In addition to focusing on keywords, you can enhance your content to grab featured snippets. This will make sure you’re all set to secure a featured snippet if Google decides to show one for your keyword.

Optimizing Content for Featured Snippets

After you find the keywords people are searching for information, you can create good content about them.

HubSpot found that making your page search engine friendly is more crucial for featured snippets than getting lots of links. This means that after you get into the top ten search results, you should work on making your content better instead of getting more links.

But how do you make your content better for featured snippets?

Here are some general tips for writing content that Google might show in a snippet:

  • Start with a clear heading (use H1, H2, H3, etc.), preferably as the main H1 heading.
  • Don’t skip the tag. Add it right after posing the question, and then present the featured snippet’s details. If it’s a paragraph, add a bit of text. If it’s a list, use bullet points, and so forth.
  • Keep the answer concise, encouraging readers to explore more. With about 50 words, choose your words wisely.
  • Tackle related questions in the following text. Once you’ve addressed the primary question, delve into more queries. For example, if the initial question is ‘What is a guitar?’ you can follow up with ‘How do guitars work?’
  • Incorporate structured data markup when creating lists and tables.
  • Write in a natural and logical way. When enhancing your content for snippets, keep it simple. Just write as you normally would, focusing on being clear and organized. It’s crucial that your content doesn’t seem forced by using too many keywords.

In simple terms, your goal is to create great content that answers customer questions. Next, implement a smart plan to build links and get that content on the top of Google (where it has the best chance of showing up as a snippet).

Track Your Existing Featured Snippets

Keep an eye on your website’s featured snippets when you try to get new ones. This helps you in a few ways:

See how your website appears on search engines. If there are lots of features, the top regular results get pushed down. Knowing this can help you pick the best keywords.

Understand how Google figures out what people want when they search. This way, you won’t be guessing with your chosen keywords.

Find opportunities to do better than your competition. The higher you are in search results, the harder it is for others to beat you.

If your webpage is ranked fourth for a word on search engines, a highlighted snippet can quickly boost it to the top. The WooRank tool reveals which words have these snippets and which ones don’t. It also shows the website’s name. You can also check three snippets from your competition, giving you a clear idea of how well you’re doing compared to others.

Concluding Thoughts: Optimize for Featured Snippets 

Now, you should know more about using Google’s featured snippets for SEO. These snippets are all about getting your content to show up first. This can boost your click-through rate (CTR), which is very helpful.

So, if you want to get a lot of traffic without being in the top spot, you should focus on getting into these snippets. While it takes a good amount of work to get there, the benefits are really worth it.

We offer complete SEO services like creating content, building links, and improving snippets. If you want direct advice from a pro, set up a chat with one of our SEO specialists today.

Jugnu Nagar
Author: Jugnu Nagar

SEO Specialist

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