You know how to use SEO to reach the front pages of Google, but do you know how to rank for Position 0?
Searching “what is digital marketing?” results in 164 million responses — far too many for anyone to sort through. As a result, most marketers use search engine optimization (SEO) to rank as high as possible, usually aiming for pages 1 and 2.
But clicking through 10 or 20 sites to find your answer can still be a hassle. That’s why Google introduced featured snippets in 2014, programmatically extracting relevant information from sites to feature in “answer boxes” at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) in a spot referred to as “Position 0.”
Learn how featured snippets can be a game-changer for your business and follow our 5 steps to get your content to rank Position 0.
What is a Featured Snippet?
Featured snippets are brief answers to commonly searched questions. According to Google, they include “a summary of the answer, extracted from a web page, plus a link to the page, the page title, and URL.”
Millions of results pop up when you search “what is digital marketing?” But at the very top of the page, one answer stands out: the featured snippet.
With featured snippets, Google prioritizes your content and not the link itself. It’s looking for succinct, accurate answers to common questions. Backlinks and other link metrics don’t hold as much weight — it’s more important that you solved the reader’s problem.
In fact, your page doesn’t even have to rank on page 1 to reach Position 0. Featured snippets are commonly pulled from sites included in the top 5 search results, but can even come from page 2.
Ranking on page 1 is important, but ranking Position 0 is even better.
By focusing on value, you can even rank as both position 1 and 0 for the same link, earning a higher CTA and the opportunity to convert new leads.
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How to Get Featured Snippets for Your Site in 5 Easy Steps
Featured snippets aren’t yet available for every keyword, but they are growing in popularity. In December 2015, they appeared in 3.8% of search queries, according to RankRanger. As of May 2017, they were found in 21.9% of searches.
Follow these 5 steps to get featured snippets for your site:
Step 1: Decide if featured snippets are right for your business
Before you begin trying to secure Position 0, you need to decide if it makes sense for your business.
Though their prevalence is growing at a quick rate, featured snippets do not appear for every question typed in Google.
Some industries, such as Travel and Arts & Entertainment, do not have many featured snippets for their associated keywords yet. And local searches tend to favor Google Map results, making it more prudent for local businesses to focus on ranking high in those results rather than trying to optimize their content for featured snippets.
Other niches, such as Business Services, Health & Fitness, and Technology & Computing, have keywords that have produced some of the highest numbers of featured snippets as of May 2017.
Being in an industry that doesn’t have many keywords doesn’t mean it’s not possible to reach Position 0 — it just might take a bit longer to find the right keywords. But keep in mind that featured snippets are growing in popularity every day. Even if they’re not available for your industry today, they might be in 6 months.
Step 2: Pick keywords relevant to your target market
Once you decide that your business is well-suited for featured snippets, it’s time to find the keywords that will get you into that coveted Position 0 ranking.
To find ideal featured snippet keywords, try AnswerthePublic.com or Moz Keyword Explorer. You can also type your keyword into Google and look at the “People Also Ask” list for ideas of similar keywords you might want to promote.
Generally, the keywords that work best for featured snippets are question-oriented, searched often, and long (6+ words).
Featured snippets answer questions, but that doesn’t mean the keywords always have to be as blatant as “what is marketing?”
Of course, featured snippets commonly answer questions in the form of the 5 Ws (“What is an LLC?” or “Why do I need a website?”) and more generalized questions (“Does content marketing work?”).
But some questions are implied by the incomplete search. Searching “writing a blog” implies you want results for “How to write a blog?” and therefore gives you a featured snippet including a step-by-step list.
2. Searched Often
Google doesn’t offer featured snippets for every search as of 2017. As it continues to roll out this feature, your best bet is to focus on keywords that are searched often.
Search for your preferred keywords, and if no featured snippet appears, try variations until you find one with a Position 0 ranking available. For example, “when’s the best time for a social media post” does not produce any featured snippets, but “best times to post to social media” does.
3. Long (6+ words)
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Since you’re looking for question-oriented keywords, they’ll often be complete (or nearly complete) sentences.
In addition, one- or two-word queries often give readers a dictionary response instead, which includes no URL, as the definition is considered public knowledge.
Step 3: Decide what type of featured snippet you want
Once you have a list of question-based long tail keywords, it’s time to decide which types of featured snippets will best answer each question.
There are 4 types of featured snippets: paragraphs, lists, tables, and videos. Each one requires different HTML, so it’s important to decide how you want your answer to appear before you begin writing.
Examples of Featured Snippets
The most common type of featured snippets is a paragraph response. These provide the reader an answer presented in a few sentences, with the keywords bolded in the answer box.
For a paragraph response, make sure your keywords appear in a header, and then immediately answer the question in 40-55 words.
List results are usually found in search queries that ask how to do something, prompting Google to present you with step-by-step instructions.
There are several ways to make sure your content appears as a list. First, you can use headers — <h1>, <h2>, or <h3>, for example, followed by “Step #,” tells Google that you’re making a list.
Alternatively, you could use <li> (list) with <ol> (ordered list) or <ul> (unordered list), depending on the type of list you’re creating.
A table often appears when you search for comparisons or pricings. If your data is best presented in rows and columns, use the <table> tag. If you simply insert a photo of a table, you’re missing out on a possible Position 0 ranking.
Not always included as part of the “traditional” featured snippets, YouTube videos nonetheless can reach the top of search results with a play option directly from the search page, making them act similarly to other featured snippets. These are much harder to come by, and typically only occur for viral videos and very specific search terms.
However, Google sometimes pulls from YouTube video descriptions for paragraph-based featured snippets, giving you an extra chance to rank for Position 0.
Step 4: Optimize your site for your keywords
No matter how large your site is, you can make small edits on select pages to increase your chances for ranking Position 0 for your keywords.
Begin with one or two keywords that are high priorities for you, and make a list of all the pages on your site where you might rank for them. For example, if you were a digital marketing agency looking to rank for “how to write a blog post,” you could include those keywords on:
- A relevant blog post
- Your Services page, if you offer blogging as a service
- Your FAQ page
- A relevant lead magnet’s landing page
If you don’t currently hold the Position 0 spot, look at the page that does to find out what Google wants. For example, as of today, Hubspot holds Position 0 for “how to write a blog post.” Looking at their code shows how they outlined their answer for Google:
- <title>How to Write a Blog Post: A Bookmarkable Formula + 5 Free Blog Post Templates</title>
- <h2>How to Write a Blog Post: A Simple Formula to Follow</h2>
- <h3>Step 1: Understand your audience.</h3>
These tags include their keywords and a concise answer, all formatted in a way that lets Google know it can present this information as a list. Google then reads this code to pull the text directly from the page to create the featured snippet.
Keep in mind that featured snippets are about the reader. Metrics like backlinks don’t matter as much with featured snippets and Google prioritizes user engagement metrics, including bounce rate and average session duration. If you have a low performing page, see if you can improve those metrics before attempting to secure Position 0.
Step 5: Write and format future blogs with Position 0 in mind
Finally, begin all future blog posts with the goal of reaching Position 0.
Use clear HTML that signals to Google where to find the answer, but ultimately your focus should be on providing value for the reader. Using headers and repeating keywords in prominent spots not only helps Google understand your content, but makes it easier for a reader to skim and quickly find the answers they need.
Think about your blogs in terms of the inverted pyramid common in journalism. Begin with the answer in a few sentences, then slowly explain it in greater detail as the reader moves down your page.
Using SEO to Rank for Position 0
As mobile and voice search gains popularity, Google’s featured snippets will continue to gain prominence.
According to a survey by Stone Temple Consulting, 60% of voice users want more answers and fewer search results. Featured snippets allow them to find the answer to their question without having to go to any additional sites, making it possible to complete the whole interaction hands-free.
Appearing in these “answer boxes” ensures that your ideal client notices you and sees your business as helpful, enticing them to turn to you when they’re ready to buy a product or service.
Ranking for “Position 0” isn’t an exact science, but following these 5 steps can help you increase your chances. In the end, it comes down to SEO.
Let Mod Girl Marketing Help You Boost Your SEO
If you don’t know where to begin with SEO, let Mod Girl Marketing help you boost your conversion rate and increase your revenue with SEO Consulting.Tags: featured snippet, Google, position 0, Seo