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The Ultimate Guide to Featured Snippets: How to Rank as a Featured Snippet in Google Search Results

The Ultimate Guide to Featured Snippets: How to Rank as a Featured Snippet in Google Search Results
20 Apr 2018

For as long as Google has been a search engine, companies have strived to be the coveted number one ranking. But what if there was something even more powerful that you could aim for? Enter, featured snippets. Featured snippets are known in the digital marketing world as position zero, and it is the only way to get your content to rank above the number one spot without having to pay for it.

Now that you know position zero is actually a thing, you probably have question after question flooding your brain. What is a featured snippet? How to rank as a featured snippet? Do small businesses have a chance of being chosen as the featured snippet?

We have the answers to all of these questions, and many more, in our Ultimate Guide to Featured Snippets.

What Is a Featured Snippet?

Google Featured Snippet Example

Google Featured Snippet Example

First off, what is a featured snippet? A featured snippet is a highlighted answer to a question that is searched for in Google Search. It is displayed right at the top of the search results, is shown in a box, and is referred to as position zero. A featured snippet lets searchers easily find answers to common questions without having to take any other action. Even when an excerpt is selected for the featured snippet, the organic link is still shown in its correct place in the SERPs, providing the company with double the exposure.

What Types of Featured Snippets Are There?

As of right now, Google has three different types of featured snippets:

  • Paragraph – This is the most common type of featured snippet. It can either include just a text answer, or it can be a paragraph of text with an accompanying image.
  • List – If available, Google will show a list snippet because it is easier for the reader to skim (in numbered or bulleted format).
  • Table – For stats and data, a table can also be shown, making it simple to visualize the results of the asked question.

Are Featured Snippets the Same as Direct Answer?

While both featured snippets and direct answers are highlighted above the organic search results, there is one distinct difference.

Direct Answer vs Featured Snippet from Google.com

Direct Answer vs Featured Snippet from Google.com

The Difference Between Direct Answers vs Featured Snippets

Direct answers simply give the answer without providing a link to the source, while featured snippets also include the page title and a link so the reader can learn more. Direct answers are reserved for short, simple answers, like the weather, sports scores, conversions, translations, etc., while featured snippets are used when a more complex answer is required.

What Are the Benefits of Featured Snippets?

Average CTR of Featured Snippets in Google via Ahrefs.com

Average CTR of Featured Snippets in Google via Ahrefs.com

The goal of any organic SEO effort is to rank in the top spot on the SERPs, so ranking above these results is what a marketer’s dreams are made of. The obvious benefits of being a featured snippet is the increased exposure it provides since every searcher will see your answer as they scroll down. But even more noteworthy is the fact that your CTR can increase by about five percent, which has the ability to increase your organic SEO revenue by nearly 700 percent, as reported by Ben Goodsell. Many companies have also reported a 20-30 percent increase in traffic while being shown as the featured snippet.

Do Small Businesses Have a Chance of Being Chosen as the Featured Snippet?

Yes, any size business can be chosen as the featured snippet; however, the work must be put in to rank on the first page of Google. The featured snippet is chosen from the top 10 highest ranked sites on any given query nearly 100% of the time, as shown by Ahrefs. And only 30 percent of the snippets are chosen from the very first position. The secret is content relevance, because that is Google’s number one determining factor when choosing which one to show, not domain authority. So as long as your site is within the top 10, and you answer the question in the most concise way, you absolutely have a chance of being shown as the featured snippet in Google.

How to Rank as a Featured Snippet?

If you want to rank as a featured snippet, you have to provide the best answer to the question that is being asked. That being said, there are steps you can take within your content to show Google that you are the best option for the featured snippet.

  • Ask the Question in Your Article – If you want Google to know what question you are providing the answer to, you should first ask the question. By simply asking the question as a subhead, you can alert Google that you have the answer they are looking for. This is also a smart strategy for ranking in voice search, so it’s a win-win.
  • Use Short, Succinct AnswersGoogle prefers to show an answer in its entirety within the featured snippet box, so they look for answers that fit within their 97-word space. So aim for answering common questions within 97 words or less.
  • Expand on the Answer – After you have briefly answered the question to fit within the word count, you should expand upon it further to show Google you know what you are talking about and you have ample information to provide their users.
  • Organize with Lists/Charts – If applicable, incorporate a brief list, table, or chart within your content. Google is a big fan of structured content because it provides the user an abundance of information in an easily scannable format. Bullet lists are your friend when it comes to how to rank as a featured snippet.
  • Answer Several Questions within One Article – Once Google chooses you as the featured snippet in one query, they are more likely to show you in another one. As such, you will want to answer several questions that are related to the same topic within one article.
  • Incorporate High-quality Images – Some featured snippets include an image, and these snippets are even more powerful when it comes to click-through rates. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t let you tag which image you want featured, so if your site is selected for the snippet, they will select whichever image they think is the best. Your best course of action is to make sure that every image on your site is high-quality, branded, and includes annotations.

What Type of Keyword Phrases Should be Used for Featured Snippets?

Remember, the entire point of a featured snippet is to quickly answer the question that the user searches for. Which means the best way to be selected as the featured snippet is to answer that question, and you can do that with long-tail keywords. While using the five Ws and H (what, when, where, who, whom, why, and how) is a strong strategy, you also want to make sure to follow those up with enough content that you effectively answer the questions.

We recommend looking at your current rankings and selecting the phrases that you already have a high ranking for. These will be your quickest way to show up as a featured snippet. Use these long-tail keywords as your motivation when writing blogs with the aforementioned tips. You could also incorporate the questions Google lists under the “People also ask” section on the SERPs to capture an even wider audience.

People Also Ask in Google

People Also Ask in Google

Is Schema Markup Necessary for Featured Snippets?

Do you have to have schema markup in order to be chosen as the featured snippet? No. Should you have schema markup if you want to be the featured snippet? Yes. Schema markup makes it simpler for Google to evaluate your content to see if you are worthy of the coveted spot. Here are some of the key schema markup tags you can use to help your site show up as the featured snippet:

  • Use your target queries as the headers and mark them with heading tags, such as < H1 > < H2 > or < H3 >.
  • Define the 97-word-or-less answer to the targeted question in the paragraph tag, < p >, to show Google you have provided them with the perfect option for the featured snippet.
  • Use schema markup to define bullet lists < li >, numerical lists < ol >, and tables < table > so Google can find these sought-after additions easily.

Can a Website be a Featured Snippet If It’s Not Mobile Optimized?

No, in order to be selected as a featured snippet, a website must be optimized for mobile. Google knows that the majority of its users are searching on the go, and it wants to provide them with a smooth experience if they do click on your link. And with the recent mobile-first indexing, if your site isn’t mobile friendly, you really don’t stand a chance of ranking in the top 10 anyway.

The good news is that optimizing for mobile use means optimizing for voice search. And optimizing for voice search is very similar to optimizing for featured snippets. So by making your website mobile optimized, you improve every aspect of your SEO efforts.

What Are the Drawbacks of Being a Featured Snippet?

If you ask us, being a featured snippet is only a positive thing. It increases your exposure on the SERPs and increases your chance of getting clicked on. However, some people believe that nobody clicks on the featured snippet, and so it will hurt your click-through-rate if you are featured. As mentioned early, when you are chosen as the featured snippet, your standard listing in the SERPs still shows up as well, so you are basically doubling your chances of being the chosen link. Even if someone bypasses you as the featured snippet, they will recognize the familiar lingo in your actual listing and they are more likely to click through.

If you want to rank as a featured snippet, you will have to put in some work. But the good news is that in an effort to obtain the coveted rank zero, you are also benefitting every other aspect of your natural SEO efforts. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. To learn more about how to rank as a featured snippet, contact our digital marketing agency today.