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SEO and Paid Media

Featured snippets, do you always want them?


You see featured snippets pretty often. Position zero; the answer boxes on top of the search engine result page (SERP). They give you a brief answer to your query by showing you a snippet of content from the most relevant page. It can be a clarification of a concept, a list of different types of yoga, or a step-by-step guide. These snippets show you the answer straight away, so you don’t even have to click any further. They can also be read aloud if you search with Google assistant.

But what exactly are featured snippets, and why would you want them?

Ok, first of all, what is a featured snippet a.k.a. position zero?

A featured snippet answers your question directly in the SERP. It shows you part of a web page in a box above the regular search results. They usually appear when you type informational queries, such as definitions, recipes, who, what, when, and more. It is Google’s way to give you the best possible answer in the shortest, most concise way.

Featured snippets rank above the regular search results, which is why they’re also known as position zero.

 Featured paragraph snippet

Types of featured snippets

Featured snippets come in all shapes and sizes. Paragraphs, lists, tables, charts, and videos. A price question might generate a table snippet with price breakdowns. And if you ask for how-to-do something, you’ll probably see a bulleted list snippet explaining how-to-do [your question] step by step. Asking Google for the meaning of a word? Ta-da! A paragraph snippet will explain more.

Paragraphs are the most common snippets (like the image above). They usually answer questions such as why, who, what, etc. Other types of snippets you might run into are:

  • numbered list snippets (how-to’s, instructions, recipes and similar)
  • bulleted list snippets (ranked items, best-[insert product here]-lists, etc.)
  • table snippets (pricing tables, data tables)
  • chart snippets
  • and video snippets.

 Video snippet

Try to trigger a snippet with a query consisting of either recipe, best, vs, definition or make - some of the most common snippet questions.

Why you want a featured snippet

Ok, so now you know a bit more about position zero and featured snippets, but why do you want them? Think about this: around 12.3% of search queries end up with a featured snippet in the search result. It might not sound like much, but it’s quite a lot considering there are around six billion searches done every day. These snippets take up a lot of space in the SERP and give you heaps of visibility, especially on mobile devices.

Think about featured snippets as a way to serve your users and potential customers with easy-to-read, quick, and suitable content. Think about them as billboard ads, building brand exposure, and top-of-mind awareness. It’s a chance to increase visibility, while at the same time making your reader happy with a comprehensive answer on a topic or question. Who wouldn’t want that?

 Within the last year, search interest for “featured snippet” has increased immensely (Google Trends).

But, are featured snippets always good?

Yes and no. It depends on what you want them to do for you, and what you want to do for the user. Featured snippets sometimes become zero-click searches, where the user doesn’t click further on the link and visit your site. In fact, around 50% of searches are said to be zero-click searches. This is not always good when you want traffic. But great for exposure.

A study by Ahrefs indicates that click-through-rates for a featured snippet is 8.6% compared to a click-through-rate of 19.6% for the page that ranks right below. If there’s no featured snippet at all, position #1 gets 26% of all clicks.

Remember: featured snippets bring visibility. See them as an extension of your customer service and an important part of your customer journey and long-term strategy.

Be clear with what you want with a page or specific content on your site when optimizing it for SEO. Is it going to drive conversions, or is it mainly informational? What pages would benefit the most from snippet optimization? Put the work into that and be prepared to measure them differently. Maybe impressions are more important here than clicks?

How to build a featured snippet, or at least try

I wish I could say that there’s a magic formula, such as ‘follow these three steps’ and voilá! – your featured snippet is ready! But no, there’s no formula. There are, however, best practices.

As usual to rank, you need comprehensive content, technical prerequisites, and a good structure of your website. After you have this in place, Google might pick your page as the best possible answer to a query and show a snippet of it in position zero.

Here are some things you can do to increase your chances for this:

  • Do your keyword research: what is your audience searching for? Help them find it by creating great content
  • Use the 5 W’s to build content around – who, what, when, where and why
  • Include both the question and the answer on your page
  • Make it short and concise enough to fit a featured snippet box...
  • ... and elaborate on the topic further on the page
  • What queries are lacking featured snippets today? Fill the gap
  • Make sure to take care of your already existing featured snippets
  • Pick enticing images
  • Find what snippet formats are ranking right now for a query – and make it better!
  • And don’t forget about voice search, does it sound good as a voice answer?

Need help with a featured snippet strategy? At Nordic Morning we’re experts at this. Contact us here.