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The Role of Featured Snippets in Search Engines

Ogno The Role of Featured Snippets in Search Engines

Claiming the number 1 spot on the search engine results page (SERP) for a competitive keyword is hard. Even making it onto the first page can be difficult. But there is a way to leapfrog the top organic results and claim a bigger prize: The featured snippet, also known as spot zero. In this post, you’ll learn what featured snippets are, how they impact search engines, and how you can optimize your content to claim spot zero.

Let’s dive in.


What Are Featured Snippets?

Featured snippets are short fragments of information displayed above the organic results on the first page of the search results. The information in a featured snippet is taken from a web page in Google’s index.

A featured snippet aims to provide users with a concise snippet of information that answers a search query quickly.

The three most common types of featured snippet are:


Definitions (Paragraphs)

Screenshot of featured paragraph snippet on Google

This is the most used type of snippet. It provides a short answer to a search query in a single paragraph.


Tables

Screenshot of featured table snippet on Google

Table snippets provide a way for searchers to compare data or information quickly.


Lists

Screenshot of featured list snippet on Google

List snippets typically contain the steps required to complete a goal or list tips, recommendations, or best practices.


Featured Snippets’ Impact on SEO

When a featured snippet is displayed for a search query, it’s the most prominent element on the SERP. It grabs the attention of users and generates a high percentage of clicks.

For many search queries, the featured snippet steals clicks away from the top organic search engine result. A study published in Search Engine Watch showed that featured snippets attract 35% of all clicks on the SERP.

When HubSpot analyzed the impact of featured snippets on traffic, it discovered that clickthrough rate (CTR) was 114% higher for pages that ranked for the featured snippet.

Claiming the featured snippet can boost your visibility in search results and increase organic traffic to your website.


How to Win a Featured Snippet

Featured snippets are an essential part of search engine optimization (SEO).

But what can you do to claim spot zero?

Before we dive into the steps, it’s important to note that you need to already rank on page one to have a chance of claiming spot zero. According to Ahrefs, over 99% of featured snippets are pulled from pages that already rank on page one.

Once you’ve built a solid SEO foundation and reached the first page, you can get a quick win by optimizing for the featured snippet.

Here’s how you can win a featured snippet in 3 simple steps:


1. Finding the Right Keyword/Search Term

The first step is to find a keyword or search query that currently displays a featured snippet.

You can manually check the SERP for your keyword ideas, or you can use a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush to speed up the process of finding viable keywords that display a featured snippet.

Screenshot from Ahrefs' SERP Checker

Question-oriented keywords are usually a good option when it comes to finding featured snippet opportunities. These are informational keyword searches where the user is looking for a specific answer to a question.

According to SEMrush, 77.63% of search queries starting with the word “why” triggered a featured snippet.


2. Analyze the SERP

The next step is to verify that Google is currently showing a featured snippet for the keyword.

This also allows you to see which type of featured snippet Google is currently displaying. 

You can see if the search engine displays a definition, table, or list snippet and use this information to inform your optimization efforts.


3. Optimize for the Selected Keyword

The final step is to optimize your content around the featured snippet. Formatting is key.

Formatting your content to look like a featured snippet increases the chances of Google choosing it for spot zero.


The Definition

For a definition snippet, you should provide a short answer to the search query. Your definition should be a single paragraph of between 40-60 words.

You should use an H2 header containing the target search query to signal a clear start of the definition.

The goal is to create a definition that Google can easily identify and insert into the snippet at the top of the SERP.


The List

Google pulls steps, items, or instructions from a web page to create a list snippet.

The best way to optimize for this type of snippet is to structure your content in a list format.

The H1 heading should contain the target search query, and you should list each item or step in H2 headings underneath.

You can number your list to make it easier for Google to identify and pull each step for the snippet.


The Table

Table snippets are one of the easiest to target.

You can increase your chances of claiming the snippet by formatting information in an easy to compare table containing all the fields displayed in the snippet.

Use the <tr> tag and include relevant headings and data for the search query.


Downsides of Featured Snippets

We’ve discussed the impact of featured snippets on search engines and revealed how to optimize your content to win spot zero.

But featured snippets are not always a good thing for SEO and don’t always result in more traffic and conversions.

There’s an issue around users mistaking featured snippets for paid search ads. Around 24% of people mistake featured snippets for ads.

Google hasn’t helped this issue by changing its ad label – paid results now appear more like organic search results.

There’s also the issue of “no-click” searches.

In 2020, nearly 65% of all Google searches did not result in a click.

Many SEOs believe that this is down to the rise of the featured snippet.

If searchers can get all the information they need from the SERP, they don’t need to click and visit your website.

One of the best ways to avoid this issue is to target featured snippets for keywords with a high CTR.

Tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs allow you to see the organic CTR of a keyword. If the keyword has a low CTR, it might not be worth your time optimizing your content for the featured snippet.


Conclusion

Featured snippets are an integral part of SEO strategy. Winning spot zero will boost your brand visibility, increase organic traffic, and indirectly impact conversions and revenue. You can’t ignore a feature that takes up so much real estate on the SERP.

Use the above steps to optimize for featured snippets and leapfrog your competitors.

If you need some help turning your page one rankings into featured snippets, schedule a consultation with the SEO experts here at Ogno.

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