How to Rank at Google’s Position Zero: What Is the Featured Snippet?
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If you know anything about search engines, you know that ranking as the number one result for a search is the holy grail of SEO marketing. Better yet? You want to appear before the number one result in the highly coveted featured snippet spot on Google.
Let’s talk about this “featured snippet,” also known as “position zero.” While the position one link earns roughly 25 percent of clicks, the position zero result earns a whopping 34.2 percent, resulting in a substantially higher CTR.
If you want people to discover your website – and become paying customers – your marketers need to focus on scoring that featured snippet position with targeted content.
But how can you do that? And what exactly is this featured snippet all about?
What Is a Featured Snippet?
You see featured snippets all the time in your searches. Many times, when you search for an answer to a query on Google, you’re greeted with a box of text at the top of the search results. This is the “position zero result,” more commonly referred to as the featured snippet.
Google’s goal with featured snippets is to provide a snappy, accurate answer to a commonly asked question. If Google chooses to feature your blog post or website content as the featured snippet, you’re essentially snagging the prime real estate at the top of the page.
Ahrefs, and many other SEO sites and marketers, have found that the featured snippet is consistently stealing clicks from the number one ranking result. Position one for any search result is great – but position zero is even better.
Why Is Position Zero Valuable?
Earning that position zero spot on page one doesn’t just earn your link more clicks – it takes away from the first result, which is likely from one of your competitors. Think of the featured snippet as the big, flashy sign pointing people straight to your brand (not others) for an answer to their question.
Furthermore, being the top answer for a search query gives your brand some street credit. People trust Google, so if the search engine highlights you as an authority within your field, searchers will trust you. In a sense, the featured snippet is the podium prize – the recognition that your brand is credible and reliable.
Of course, earning this coveted slot on any search engine isn’t exactly easy. It takes time – and strategy – to climb the rankings.
Where Does Zero Position Content Come From?
So, where does Google pull featured snippets? How does the search engine pick its sources?
Typically, Google looks to high-ranking websites for answers. Research shows that a large chunk (up to 70 percent) of all featured snippets come from links that are ranked in the first, second, or third positions on page one of the search result.
In other words, if you want to snag position zero someday, you need to focus on climbing the rankings for relative search queries. If your website doesn’t appear in search results until page two or three, you don’t stand much of a chance.
However – you don’t need to score position one to move to position zero. Google will look through its organic search results to find the best candidate for the featured snippet, and if your formatting or answer length is better than the top result, your link may still be chosen as the featured snippet.
The Most Common Types of Featured Snippets
Featured snippets aren’t always just a paragraph of text answering the “how, what, when, where, and why” of the question. Position zero can also showcase:
- Bulleted or numbered lists (i.e. instructions or recipes)
- Tables or charts (for comparisons, values, or numerical data)
- YouTube videos
- Carousels (which allow for question refinement)
Image Source: Search Engine Journal
Paragraph snippets are continually the most popular type (at 81 percent). However, that doesn’t mean you should skip targeting other types. A varied approach is always smart.
How Do I Achieve Position Zero Results?
Now, we come to the real bread and butter of this SEO post: how you can work toward improving your link’s rankings and snagging that featured snippet.
The competition for that zero slot is intense. To beat out the other contenders, you’ll need to use the right keywords, format, and language. Additionally, you’ll need to create clickable content that matches Google’s criteria. This means the link must:
- Answer the user’s search query clearly and concisely
- Be factual and organized
- Include a longer post with more in-depth information on the topic
Google doesn’t pick just any website to feature. If you want that position zero result, you’ll need to work for it and provide just the right setup.
Is There a Secret to Featured Snippets?
In short, the answer is no.
There’s no hidden map that will help you reach position zero or instantly improve your rankings. There are things you can do to increase your likelihood of being chosen by the search engine, but no method or strategy is surefire.
When asked if users could mark their pages as a featured snippet, Google said:
“You can’t. Google systems determine whether a page would make a good featured snippet for a user‘s search request, and if so, elevates it.”
At the end of the day, we’re all subject to Google’s whims (or algorithms). But there are some ways to significantly boost your chances of winding up in that position zero slot. Let us share some.
Our Top SEO Tips for Getting the Featured Snippet
We’ve helped many websites climb the rankings for various search results, and we want to help you do the same. These tips will ensure Google understands and, hopefully, prioritizes your content.
1. Research and Use the Right Keywords
Most SEO tactics involve keyword research – especially if you’re attempting to boost your organic search results. Using just the right words can attract Google’s attention. You’ll need to understand what phrases and terms appear in the search query you’re targeting, then optimize your content strategy to include those keywords.
You can do keyword research manually, or you can turn to an online tool for some help. Our favorite tools include:
2. Analyze the Competition
It’s impossible to beat a competitor if you don’t understand them. Do your homework – learn what your competitors’ snippets look like.
What keywords are they using? How are they formatting their results, especially the ones that have been selected as featured snippets?
We’re not telling you to copy your competitors. We are saying that you should:
- Find the keywords your competitors are ranking for.
- Thoroughly examine their high-ranking content.
- Learn how you can make your content even better.
3. Use Google to Find Related Questions and Topics
Take a look at the “People Also Ask” section beneath the featured snippet. This is an excellent place to see what else your customers are researching – and how you can expand your content to answer more questions.
According to Advanced Web Ranking, about 50% of the mobile SERPs in the US will display a People Also Ask box.
Image Source: Advanced Web Ranking
As you create content and aim for that position zero slot, try to think like your audience. Understand your average user’s intent. What are they really trying to learn, and how can you write posts and webpages that offer full, factual answers?
Remember: Google doesn’t just uplift people who use smart keywords or write SEO content. The search engine wants to elevate valuable content, so the more value you can add to your posts, the higher you will climb in search rankings.
4. Optimize Specific Content Sections
Take a long, attentive stroll through your customer feedback and reviews. What are people saying? What are the most commonly asked questions?
If you want to learn about your customers, the best place to start is at the root of their concerns and discussions. You can also use resources like Answer the Public to gather information from buyers throughout your industry.
5. Keep Your Answers Short
You might be thinking, “but shouldn’t we be writing long-form content for SEO purposes?” And our answer is yes – but your answers shouldn’t be lengthy.
When Google pulls a section of content for the featured snippet, it’s not pulling the entire blog. Instead, the search engine is looking for a 40 to 60-word chunk that specifically answers the question at hand.
We recommend breaking up your long blog posts into intuitive, organized sections. In these smaller sections, you can offer explanations in a clear and concise manner. This gives Google a place to pull answers, and it increases your likelihood of climbing the rankings with a highly informative post.
6. Create Snippet Bait for Google
We already told you that you can’t “mark” your page as a featured snippet option for Google – but you can dangle some highly tempting elements in front of the search engine.
For instance, you can include a list that would work perfectly as a featured snippet or a table that the search engine can easily showcase.
Even your simple paragraphs can serve as featured snippet bait if you format them correctly. Ensure that each section of text has a clear purpose and answer. Hopefully, Google will pluck that paragraph out of your text and use it to create a featured snippet.
7. Format Your Pages Correctly
Speaking of formatting paragraphs, your entire page should be properly laid out if you want to score position zero. This means using headers (H1, H2, etc.), titles, and tags to explain your layout to Google.
Don’t stop at using H-tags. You should also format your article chronologically so that Google understands it and is, therefore, more likely to feature it. A search query requires a straightforward answer, and you need to provide that straightforward post to improve your rankings.
8. Offer Detailed Explanations
We just told you to ensure your answers are concise – but bear with us as we also remind you that they need to be detailed. A short answer that’s correct, but that offers no explanation or background, isn’t exactly appealing to Google.
Create content that is meaty and informative, answering several questions at once but in clearly broken down sections. This gives your link that extra credibility Google is looking for, but it also keeps things clear and direct.
9. Build FAQ Pages for Your Industry
This arguably one of the best tips we can offer. FAQ pages are featured snippet gold. Not only do they hold a wealth of information for users, but they also include answers to many relevant questions all in one place – something that Google loves to see.
On your FAQ page, answer questions that are specific to your company (“How long does your shipping take?”). You should also branch out to answer industry-wide questions. Your goal is to create a resource that buyers can turn to for all kinds of relevant information.
If you need help finding questions to include, turn to the “People Also Ask” section, as well as your reviews and customer feedback. You can also sneak a peek at what other similar brands are including on their FAQ pages.
10. Diversify Your Content Types and Topics
Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Although blog posts are powerful, you need a wide range of content to increase your rankings across the board. Experiment with high-quality images, video clips, charts, and social posts. The more ways you can reach searchers (and search engines), the better.
11. Don’t Forget About Voice Search
Wondering if position zero helps voice search? We can tell you that it does.
From Siri to Alexa, Bixby to Google Home, all of these digital assistants LOVE to pull their answers from featured snippets. As more and more people turn to their devices for answers, asking questions aloud, position zero becomes increasingly valuable.
As you write your blog posts and search result answers, keep voice search SEO in mind. How will people ask their questions if they’re speaking, not typing? Will your content make sense in that context?
Keep in mind that when people speak to their devices, they often poise their questions in a longer, more conversational format. If you want to target those search queries and their featured snippets, you will likely need to adapt your content to mimic that tone and length.
Wrapping Things Up
Google wants to provide quick, concise, and accurate answers to its searchers. If you want to rank at the very top of your relevant search results, you’ll need to optimize your content to fit this goal.
If you aren’t already focusing on featured snippets, now is the time to start doing so.
Take a microscope to your content and assess where you’re meeting Google criteria (and where you’re not). There’s no guarantee that any tactic will get you that coveted position zero spot, but the more dedicated you are about appealing to Google, the higher your chances become.
At Foxxr, we’re all about pulling more traffic (and customers) to your content. If you’re unhappy with your current search result rankings or SEO tactics, give our marketers a call at (727) 379-2207. You can also get in touch with our digital marketing team online.
You don’t have to work toward scoring that featured snippet in searches – but if you don’t, your competitors will.
Published: Jun 12, 2019
Updated: March 12, 2021