Having your content show up as the very first result in a Google search used to be like striking gold. However, as the search engine continues to evolve, content marketers aren’t on the hunt for as much gold anymore — they’re looking for diamonds. In today’s landscape, those diamonds now come in the form of Google featured snippets.
You know, those blocks of text that appear right above the first result on a Google search? These show up in what has become known as “position zero,” which gives content even more exposure and visibility than the highest-ranking organic Google search result.
The process of creating a Google featured snippet can be a little tricky, so you have to know what you’re doing. Having your content in one of these coveted position zero slots takes a deep understanding of searcher demands and, of course, a bit of patience. In order to successfully create a featured snippet, the best place to start is understanding exactly how they function and what Google needs from you.
What is the Purpose of a Featured Snippet?
At their core, Google featured snippets are a way to answer a searcher’s query faster and in such a way so they don’t have to leave Google. For example, if you type in “how to create featured snippet” on Google, the answer in position zero may look something like this:
Featured snippets themselves typically come in three forms: paragraphs, lists, and tables. There is also an increasing number of charts, graphs, and images that are showing up as well. The way the featured snippet is presented is generally based on the question itself. If you’re searching for the best places to eat in Vancouver, a list of them might show up in position zero. It’s all about how Google determines the strength of that particular answer and how it good it is at addressing the searcher’s query.
One of the by-products of Google featured snippets has been a dip in overall click-through rates. Since the answer is already there in position zero, you’re not as compelled to click on a website link if your question has already been answered. When there is a featured snippet on the page, the top organic search result generates less than 20% of all click-throughs.
Google is essentially changing the way content marketers should approach their content strategy as ranking high on the search engine is still valuable — but position zero has had a significant impact on its importance.
With e-commerce and service-based businesses, this is a reminder to serve answers to popular questions on your website in a quick and more digestible format. Think of questions that your customer service team regularly receives. Google featured snippets are snapshots of information that the customer will not want to search through your entire website to find. These search queries relate to specific questions, which implies consideration within a deeper level of the research stage or sales funnel.
For example, if a person is comparing prices of SEO software, make sure the answer is laid out clearly for Google to pull as a featured snippet. If your content ranks for specific search queries, it increases the chance that a potential customer will visit your website when they are ready to make a purchase.
How to Get Your Content into a Featured Snippet
The real beauty of featured snippets is that Google is looking for the best answer and not necessarily the top-ranked one. That means there is plenty of opportunity for pages that aren’t the number-one search result to appear above it in position zero.
With that in mind, SEO is still crucial to the featured snippet process as Google pulls a result from positions 1-10 on the first page. That means even if you have a brilliant and concise answer to a particular question that appears on page three, it won’t be picked up as a featured snippet.
Targeting terms that your content already has first page results for is a great place to start. Once you have those targeted terms in place and you’ve optimized your content, you need to truly understand the Google featured snippet you’re trying to fill in or replace. How good is your content compared to that current featured snippet and how can it answer the question better and with more immediacy?
This is a crucial aspect of Google featured snippets that must be carefully considered. Your content has to answer the question almost immediately. If a searcher is looking for “the top-grossing movies of all-time,” writing a 3,000-word blog post about how Titanic inspired you won’t put you into position zero.
Turning your content into a featured snippet really stems from the level of detail you put into the answer without sidetracking. If you’re listing the ingredients of a particular dish, stick to presenting the order in which those ingredients need to be put in and avoid any additional narrative about the how and why — it’s all about the what in this particular case.
Don’t ever forget that you’re answering a question. You have to think like a Google searcher who is strapped for time and wants the answer there and then. If you can utilize this mentality towards your content, then there’s a greater chance that content will already include the necessary pieces to create a featured snippet.
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