Why and how to optimize your content for Google Featured Snippets
It has long been established that the first position in the SERPs has a major impact on the performance of websites. The site that occupies this position for a given query alone attracts more than 30% of the traffic.
These figures are of growing interest to marketers and most of them are looking to be the number 1 in search results without knowing that things have changed.
Position 1 is no longer the only position that gets clicks. Google introduced position 0 and it has since become the gold standard.
In this article, we will discuss the eight most frequently asked questions about position 0, Onebox and Featured Snippets. We will discover the importance of position 0 and tips to place your site in this position.
So follow along!
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1. What is Zero Position?
Zero position is information that appears above the organic results for a specific query.
Google relies on many factors such as search words, search intent and sometimes search history to provide users with the content they are looking for directly on the search page.
For example, the search engine can display a city’s local time and the name of a country’s president before the organic results. The information that Google displays in position 0 used to come from a knowledge base called the knowledge graph.
But the zero position has evolved since then and Google can extract information directly from the indexed pages.
2. What is displayed in position Zero?
Most of the time, there are two types of information that are displayed in position Zero: Oneboxes and Featured Snippets.
What are Oneboxes?
Oneboxes are results that are displayed on search pages in order to provide users with quick and real-time data. This allows Google to improve the user experience on its search engine.
The particularity of Oneboxes is that they do not come from a third party page. In fact, there are two types of Oneboxes: Oneboxes that refer to other search engines and Oneboxes that do not refer to a link.
The first type can refer to Google Images, Google News or Google Shopping. The second type of Onebox, on the other hand, is without a link and does not refer to other links. It can be information about flights, weather or the time of day in a country.
The SEO implications of the Google OneBox are that it takes clicks away from websites. By offering users directly what they want on search pages, Google reduces the amount of traffic to organic listings.
Today, the use of the term Onebox has all but disappeared from digital marketing. Google otherwise shows information at position zero without reducing traffic to websites.
The most common types of information at position zero are Featured Snippets. These include a number of elements such as:
- Phone numbers;
What is a Featured Snippet?
Featured Snippets are direct answers to users’ queries. They are text extracts that appear in position 0, above the search results.
Featured Snippets are usually accompanied by some additional information and the URL of the page from which they are extracted.
Following a query, Google also presents “People are also searching” boxes below a Featured Snippets. These boxes provide users with related questions to ask Google for additional results.
Each of the questions in the “People also ask” box opens a Featured Snippet, usually from a page other than the first one. The “People also ask” box has up to 5 questions and therefore can result in as many Featured Snippets.
3. What form can a Featured Snippets take?
Featured Snippets come in different forms and each form is determined by the search intent of the users.
Featured Snippets look like a paragraph
This is the most common form of Featured Snippet with over 70% of results according to SEMrush. When users’ query includes the phrase “What is”, the Featured Snippet will certainly provide a brief answer or definition.
Featured Snippets can also look like a paragraph when the user’s query includes the keyword “why” or “what”.
Featured Snippets as a bulleted list
If the user’s query looks like how to do something, the Featured Snippets will most likely be a bulleted or numbered list.
The idea is to display the first steps of a process and a link to let users discover more.
Featured Snippets look like a table
Featured Snippets look like a table when you search for data such as rates or dates. The same is true when your search intent is to compare two things.
Featured Snippets in video format
It is possible to see that Featured Snippets are in the form of a video. Although this form is less common and represents only 4.6%, it can be interesting to format your videos for position 0.
4. How to appear in Featured Snippets?
Appearing in position zero is a matter of strategy. Webmasters who want to get a ranking for Featured Snippets must be able to format their content in order to gain them.
To do this, you should consider the following elements:
Choose your keywords
A study by SEMrush shows that the likelihood of search results returning a Featured Snippet is high when the query has more words.
For example, when a query is composed of a single word, only 4.3% of the results will lead to a Featured Snippet. But when the keyword is composed of 5 words, 17% of the search results refer to a Featured Snippet.
Similarly, this figure increases to 55.5% when the query contains more than 10 words. It would therefore be essential to adopt long keywords if you want to increase your chances of appearing in position zero.
The best way to have long keywords is to take into account the queries of your audience about your products and services. These queries are likely to be much more specific and reveal the intent of the users better than shorter queries.
Harness the power of questions
Today’s users don’t just search for keywords, they directly ask every possible question in search engines with the intention of finding an answer.
Featured Snippets often appear and offer answers according to the questions asked. According to SEMrush data, 29% of the keywords that trigger a featured snippet start with a “question” type word.
In detail, we get the following numbers for questions that trigger a Featured Snippet
- 77.6% for questions starting with “why”
- 72.6% for questions starting with “can”
- 18.6% for questions starting with “where”. This means that location-related questions do not often trigger Featured Snippet. So local businesses don’t have to spend their time to appear at position zero. What they do need to do is position themselves on Google Maps results.
To find relevant questions, you can use our free tool to find out what questions people frequently search for in your area. All you have to do is insert your keyword and choose the corresponding country.
Consider Featured Snippets formats
Based on the different Featured Snippets formats, you can use these formats to create content. However, try to keep it short and don’t try to exceed 300 characters.
Depending on the format you choose, it is recommended to format your text in an HTML tag
- for an ordered list
- for an unordered (bulleted) list
- for list items.
Date your content
Many sites tend not to add the publication date on their articles in an effort to stay relevant for a long time. However, this strategy doesn’t work when it comes to appearing at position zero.
It is dated content that appears the most in Featured Snippets. According to SEMrush data, the types of Featured Snippets that include a date are distributed as follows:
- Paragraph: 44%
- List: 47%;
- Table: 19%
- Video: 20%.
In addition, it is necessary to properly optimize your content, especially the different titles, meta descriptions and images. Indeed, Google often does not display content that is not ranked on the first page at position zero.
Monitor your content for the position
It is obviously necessary to know after your efforts if you have obtained Featured Snippets. Tools like SEMrush and Nightwatch will be able to help you detect if a snippet of your content is ranked at position 0
Source : Nightwatch
5. What are the criteria that do not come into play for Featured Snippets?
To appear in Featured Snippets, several criteria seem to play no role and you should not worry about them.
Although it is advisable to answer questions to make your content snippable, FAQ pages that offer answers to several questions at once have no chance of appearing in position zero.
They can appear unless they answer a single question. It is also true that you must format your texts in an HTML tag, but the addition of structured data tags does not count when it comes to placing you in position zero.
Moreover, sites have the same chances to appear in position zero and the age of a site does not systematically play in its favor. New sites can appear in Featured Snippets as well as old ones.
Similarly, popular sites with a high PageRank are not ahead of others. Less popular sites have the same chance to occupy the Zero position as these sites.
6. Why are Featured Snippets important?
The zero position is a highly coveted position in SEO, as it represents the first result and is a golden opportunity for SEO professionals.
According to one analysis, 70% of Featured snippets came from the top three organic search results, but the remaining 30% came from lower ranked pages.
This means that lower ranked sites can now appear first on the first page of results. Featured Snippets allow these sites to improve their visibility.
While many marketers thought that Featured Snippets would hurt their traffic, it has been shown that they do the exact opposite. In fact, they significantly improve statistics including visits, clicks and conversions.
According to Moz, being featured in the zero position means getting extra brand exposure in search results. This was revealed in two studies conducted by Ben Goodsell and Eric Enge, respectively.
The first study shows that the click-through rate (CTR) is 8% when a page is placed in Featured Snippet versus 2% to for a page placed in an answer box. This increases revenue from organic traffic by 677%.
The second study highlights that position 0 caused a 20-30% increase in traffic for the ConfluentForms.com site.
In addition, position zero results are also used in voice search, which can be a real benefit as voice search becomes more common.
Search engines are rapidly moving towards voice search. This type of search can be performed on Google, for example, in over 100 languages.
The interest in voice search stems from the fact that this type of search is becoming dominant and more and more people around the world are using voice to perform searches.
Given these numbers, voice search optimization is necessary for sites that want to appear in position 0.
7. Are position 0 and Featured Snippets a revolution?
It is obvious that position 0 and Featured Snippets are not a revolution. Indeed, Google has always sought to satisfy its users.
For this, the search engine has undertaken several actions in order to display relevant results based on the search intent and to provide a quick response to Internet users. This is what the 0 position and Featured Snippets are for.
However, we must recognize that the form has changed. We now go from entering a keyword in a search bar to stating a question in natural language.
While some may consider these changes as a revolution, it is simply a natural evolution of search.
8. Are there any risks to Featured Snippets?
The answer is probably yes, because Featured Snippets pose a fundamental problem. It is the single thought, namely the truth of Google. It is the American firm that decides which answer is relevant to the Internet user.
This poses problems especially when the user’s query is about controversial topics. The same is true for questions that can lead to several answers and require in-depth reflection.
SEO remains a question of useful content. The zero position and Featured Snippets are just another element in the SEO universe. They help internet users to find a quick answer to their different concerns and companies to enhance their visibility.
So, it would be exciting to look into formatting your content for position 0 to increase your chances of appearing first on the results page and enjoy the benefits that come with it
Just like other Google features, Featured Snippets will continue to evolve. That said, what works for position zero now will not always work
That’s why you should continue to read our blog to stay informed about the different changes and new strategies that work.
Also note that SEO takes time and your efforts to get to position zero will not produce results overnight.
But as you focus on creating content that answers specific questions from Internet users, the more your keyword universe will expand and the more Google will see you as an authority in your field.