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What are featured snippets? And how to optimize for position zero?

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What are featured snippets? And how to optimize for position zero?

Featured snippets possess great power. Are you interested in securing the topmost position in search engine result pages without the need for backlinks or frequent content updates? This is a desirable goal for every SEO professional. Featured snippets serve as a valuable solution in this regard.

In recent years, Google has made significant strides in enhancing its search results display. By prioritizing speed, accuracy, and relevance, Google has increasingly incorporated featured snippets as a means of providing swift and precise answers to users' queries. As per a recent study, the employment of featured snippets, also known as position zero results, has seen a steady uptick year on year.

Google's featured snippet has emerged as a favorite among readers for its ability to deliver valuable and accurate information directly within search results, without requiring users to visit a website. This has made the featured snippet an increasingly sought-after tool for marketers looking to enhance their online visibility and reach a wider audience.

What is the featured snippet?

Featured snippets are Google's answer boxes that appear at the top of search results, presenting a concise and direct answer to a user's query. These results typically include a URL and page title and appear above traditional search results, hence their nickname "position zero." As a powerful tool for providing quick and accurate answers, featured snippets have become an increasingly important element of Google's search algorithm.

Featured snippets can take various formats, such as paragraphs, tables, bulleted or numbered lists, or even videos, depending on the type of content that best answers the user's query. These dynamic formats allow featured snippets to deliver relevant information in a concise and engaging manner, providing a seamless and user-friendly search experience.

So, let’s make a Google search with the query “how to get more followers on Instagram”

feature snippet image one

The information presented in a box at the top of a search results page is what is known as a featured snippet.

As previously mentioned, the featured snippet is typically positioned as the first organic search result on the search engine results page, making it highly visible and attention-grabbing for users.

Types of featured snippets

There are 4 main types of featured snippets that usually appear on google’s search results.

  • Paragraph featured snippets
  • List featured snippets
  • Table featured snippets
  • Video featured snippets

Google's featured snippets are generated based on the user's search query, with the search engine automatically identifying and pulling relevant information from high-ranking websites to display in the featured snippet format.

Paragraph featured snippets

The most commonly seen type of featured snippet is the paragraph format, which typically presents a brief definition or key piece of information related to the user's query. These snippets are often triggered by queries containing phrases like "What is," "Why is," "When is," "Who is," and "How to do," and are designed to provide clear and concise answers to straightforward questions. By optimizing content for these types of featured snippets, businesses and content creators can improve their visibility and enhance their authority in their respective fields.

feature snippets image two

List featured snippets

List featured snippets, as the name suggests, display information in the form of numbered or bulleted lists, offering users a concise and structured way of accessing information. These snippets can take various forms, including ordered or unordered lists, and are commonly used to present tips, DIY tasks, recipes, checklists, and step-by-step processes. By incorporating these types of list structures into their content and optimizing for list featured snippets, content creators and businesses can improve their chances of appearing in the coveted position zero spot on Google's search results pages.

To optimize for these snippets, content creators and businesses should consider including a concise summary of the content in the form of steps or tips at the beginning of the post.

feature snippets image three

Table featured snippets

Table-featured snippets offer a unique way for users to visualize data in the form of a table, allowing for easy comparison of different items across rows and columns. These snippets are often used to display numerical data such as rates, prices, and percentages, providing users with a clear and concise summary of the information they are searching for.

Sometimes the data presented on the web page may not be in table format, but Google is able to extract the data from the source page and display it in a table format within the featured snippet.

feature snippets image four

Video featured snippets

The video featured snippet, which is sourced from YouTube, is displayed by Google. In situations where a process is best demonstrated through video rather than written instructions, the video featured snippet is particularly helpful. Google determines whether a video is relevant to a user's query by examining the keywords in the video description.

Google displays the relevant section of the webpage with the start and stop positions already queued up, providing the user with a quick and direct answer to their query.

feature snippet video image

Learn about featured snippets, informative boxes displayed by Google at the top of search results. Discover the different types of featured snippets & how to optimize your content.

What is the significance of featured snippets in SEO?

Increased CTR - Featured snippets occupy more space than organic search results, making them more eye-catching and leading to higher click-through rates. When users find a clear and concise answer to their query in a featured snippet, they may be more likely to seek more detailed information on the topic. Do you agree?

According to search engine watch, featured snippets receive up to 35% of all clicks.

Improved brand awareness - Featured snippets are an effective way to increase clicks and impressions, ultimately leading to increased brand exposure. When your website appears as a featured snippet, both users and search engines perceive it to be a valuable source of information, thereby enhancing your online presence.

More voice search opportunities - Featured snippets have become increasingly important for voice search because voice search queries are often for quick, instant results. Google relies heavily on featured snippets to provide these instant answers for voice search queries. Therefore, optimizing for featured snippets can improve your chances of appearing in voice search results and increasing your website's visibility to voice search users.

A recent study by Backlinko has revealed that over 40% of voice search results are generated from featured snippets.

How to optimize for featured snippets?

Follow the below best practices to optimize for featured snippets,

  • Target question based queries
  • Choose relevant keywords, but avoid keyword stuffing.
  • Answer the question directly 
  • Understand searcher’s intent
  • Create high-quality content, Keep your content up-to-date and accurate.
  • Optimize your overall on-page SEO
  • Add high-quality images and videos
  • Create FAQ pages

Target question based queries

The initial step to optimize for featured snippets is to identify question-based queries. Adopting the perspective of your audience is a great way to uncover opportunities for featured snippets. Ensure that you cover all search queries related to the topic, regardless of the subject. Answer the Public is a useful tool for locating the questions your audience may be asking about a specific topic.

feature snippets image for target queries

When you enter your search query, Google provides a list of related questions that you can use to optimize your content for featured snippets. By addressing these questions in your content and using question words such as "what," "where," "why," "who," "when," and "how" in your headings and subheadings, you can increase your chances of being featured.

Choose relevant keywords

When finalizing your topic, it's important to identify specific, long-tail keywords. According to Ahrefs, the majority of featured snippets are displayed for long-tail keywords. Therefore, aim for these types of keywords to increase your chances of being featured.

Optimizing your content or web page around those long tail keywords can significantly increase the chances of your web page appearing as a featured snippet for those queries.

In our earlier blog post, we provided a brief discussion on keyword research, which will help you to understand how to identify the appropriate keywords for your webpage.

If your website already ranks within the top 10 search results for certain keywords, optimizing your content or web page for featured snippets becomes easier. You simply need to provide a concise, clear, and direct answer to those queries.

Answer the question directly

As previously stated, featured snippets aim to offer quick and precise answers to user inquiries. To optimize for featured snippets, avoid using overly descriptive language and strive to answer questions as succinctly and directly as possible. Additionally, try to answer the query in the first sentence of your content to increase the likelihood of being featured by Google.

Make sure to include target keyword and make sure it is no longer than 50 words and no shorter than 40 words.

Understand searcher’s intent

To optimize your content or web page for featured snippets, it's crucial to understand the intent behind the search query of the user. This allows you to format your content in a way that meets the searcher's needs. It is essential to structure your content based on the four types of snippets mentioned earlier, depending on the user's intent. Providing concise and clear answers in the first sentence of your content, avoiding descriptive language, and focusing on the searcher's intent are key factors in optimizing for featured snippets.

Paragraph featured snippets

If your audience requires precise and direct answers, then you should utilize paragraph featured snippets. This particular type of snippet is designed to provide immediate answers to the user's query, which can result in a lower click-through rate because readers obtain their information directly from the snippet without visiting the website.

To optimize your content for paragraph snippets, 

  • Use a question and answer format – use question as a sub heading and make sure to answer the question in a separate paragraph directly below.
  • Try to answer the query by defining the search query. Don’t use metophors or humor-based answer to the queries.
  • Answer the question in a single paragraph around 40-50 words.
  • Use keywords and synonyms as naturally as possible.
  • Make sure the paragraph or the answer is in a <p> tag. 
  • Use headers – headers use HTML tags and they help Google to understand your content. Use H1 header for your title, H2 header for your main points and H3 for your supporting points under H2.

List featured snippets

Sometimes, users need in-depth information that includes Steps, Tips or Processes, in that case, use List featured snippets. 

Recent studies have revealed that content presented in numbered lists has a higher chance of appearing in featured snippets. Lists are well-known for helping readers quickly scan content, which ultimately improves user experience.

To optimize your content for list featured snippets,

  • Having a well-structured page is crucial for this type of snippet, as the page titles or headings are used as the list titles in the featured snippet.
  • Add a short summary list at the top of your content.
  • It is important to keep your list immediately below the title phrase, as this will enable Google to create a relevant title for the list featured snippet.
  • Use proper HTML tags to mark list items, use H2 headings for all list items.
  • To improve the click-through rate (CTR) of your webpage, consider creating lists that have more than 8 items. This can prompt Google to truncate the list in the featured snippet and encourage readers to click the link to see the full list.

Table featured snippets

If your audience needs a comparison, optimize your content using Table featured snippets. 

  • Keep your table or data directly below to an appropriate heading.
  • Use <tr> tag to optimize your content for table featured snippet.
  • As mentioned earlier, Google extracts information from HTML elements on a webpage and presents it in a table format for featured snippets. However, if you present the information in a table format on your own, it can enhance user experience and also facilitate Google in identifying and featuring your content.

Video featured snippets

To cater to the audience who are seeking guidance to accomplish a task that requires multiple steps and can be explained better through a video, you can optimize your content using video snippets.

when optimizing your content for video snippets, always make sure to:

  • Upload a script for the video’s closed captions
  • Optimize the video’s description using long-tail keywords
  • Add chapter breaks with timestamps in your video description is the best way to Google understand your video. By adding timestamps, you can see the progress bar of your video is split into chapters. Make sure the timestamp starts at 00.00 and your video have atleast three timestamps.

Create high-quality content

Google prioritize most relevant and quality content to a user’s query. By creating high-quality, in-depth, unique content you can increase the chances of your content will appear as a featured snippet. As I mentioned above, most featured snippets are between 40-50 words. This is not mean that you have to shorten your article. Answer the specific query right away and then explain further with additional information.

Add more value to the content by including examples, statistical data, case studies, etc. your content should be well-researched, user-focused, and comprehensive. Aim for an 8th reading level and it makes easier for readers to digest. Break down your content with logical headers, subheadings, bulleted points and knowledge graphs. Don’t stuff your keywords in your content, write naturally and follow a logical structure.

For more content marketing tips check out our previous blog post How to create engaging content

Optimize your overall on page SEO

Once your content or web page is ready for users, now you need to implement some SEO tactics which will help you to maximize your ranking signals, leading to improve visibility in search engine result pages and it also increase your chances to get appeared as a featured snippets.

Do you think, Is on-page SEO is important for featured snippets? Then this is for you, In order to, win featured snippet, for a particular query, your page must be in a top 10 search results.

 Here are some to follow,

  • Keep your URLs short, simple and user-friendly. Create SEO-friendly URLs.
  • Create attention grabbing title tags and keep it under 60 characters. Make sure your headlines of the blog post is attractive
  • Create keyword specific, complete and compelling meta descriptions. Keep it under 160 characters.
  • Use descriptive and specific Alt text for images which will help Google to understand what the image is all about. Don’t forget to use keywords in it.
  • Make sure your website is easy to navigate
  • Include keywords in header tags
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
  • Ensure your website loads fast.
  • Add relevant internal links and authority external links for easy navigation and crawling.

Add high-quality images and videos

Most featured snippets include an image in the answer box, but sometimes there is no way to ensure that Google is display the image, which come from the same website as the snippet content. Sometimes Google use images from the top ranking results in its image search.

A best practice is to, always use high-quality original images or graphics instead of stock images and place it at a top of your page. It will help you to improve the user’s experience and it drives more clicks to your site. Scale your images to optimum proportions (960 x 1200px) and write keyword specific, descriptive Alt text for images.

Other than eye-catching images don’t forget to use videos. Make sure that all the video contents are high-quality and don’t forget to add voice transcripts for all your videos.

Create FAQ pages

To further enhance your website's chances of appearing as a featured snippet, consider including a FAQ section on your site. By addressing numerous questions with comprehensive information, you increase the likelihood of being ranked as position zero. Focus on a variety of relevant questions within a given topic and ensure that the responses are concise, brief, and straightforward.

Conclusion

Optimizing for featured snippets can be an effective strategy to increase your website's traffic. By implementing the tactics mentioned above, you can improve your chances of appearing in the featured snippets.

Are you now prepared to optimize your content for position zero?

The essential steps are, 

  • Find the search queries
  • Answer those queries as direct and short as possible
  • Format your content according to your user’s intent
  • Optimize your page for on-page SEO

Featured snippets currently dominate search queries, but similar to other Google features, they are subject to continuous evolution. To stay ahead of the curve, it's important to keep an eye on Google's algorithm updates.

Rajanarthagi
Rajanarthagi

Content writer and Marketer

An enthusiastic SEO expert, passion for digital marketing with two years of expertise in writing Digital Marketing and SEO content. She is a Master of Business Administration graduate from a reputed university in south India. Her passion for SEO and online marketing helps her to stay up to date with the trends and strategies. Follow her on social media sites, to stay up to date with SEO, and Digital Marketing, Updates. To contact Raji, visit the contact page.

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