Featured Snippets and Your SEO Strategy

Since their debut, featured snippets have offered long sought after SEO value. Recent changes to Google search have made featured snippets an even greater asset to your SEO strategy in 2020. But what are featured snippets and why are they so coveted?

What are Featured Snippets?

Featured snippets are small sections of a Google Search Results Page (SERP) that are styled differently. They seek to provide quick, yet comprehensive answers to specific questions any user may ask. These featured snippets are populated from content pages across the internet. This means that anyone can rank well for featured snippets given enough effort and care.

For example: When you search “How to boil an egg” you may receive the following featured snippet:

Google Featured Snippet example: how to boil an egg

This featured how-to snippet provides a step-by-step guide to accomplish the process that was searched. Other types of featured snippets that regularly appear are snippets for informational content (how-to, what is and who is related questions) and transactional content (how much and price related questions).

Featured snippets appear above all other search results in the position we like to call Position Zero.

What is Position Zero?

While it doesn’t have an official name from Google, position zero is the ability to appear above the initial search results and even sometimes above the Google Ad Results on a page. Featured snippets can be the first and sometimes only thing that a user might see when searching for the answer to their current problem.

Recent changes to featured snippets have made position zero all the more important within Google SERPs.

January 2020 Changes to Featured Snippets

In late January 2020, there was a significant update for featured snippets in Google’s Featured Snippet Update. In this update, pages that have ranked well enough to earn a featured snippet have now had the corresponding organic search result listing removed from search:

While this may not seem like a massive change, it has already had some huge repercussions for websites ranking for featured snippets. With some organic search results being pushed to page two, many websites have seen a slight decrease in their overall organic traffic as they have one less result appearing on the first page of Google.

If these results are so important, how do we rank for these featured snippets?

How Do Your Rank Featured Snippets?

At their core, featured snippets seek to answer questions. The types of questions that featured snippets appear for traditionally fall within three buckets:

  1. Informational
  2. Navigational
  3. Transactional

What are Informational Featured Snippets?

Informational featured snippets answer “What” questions. They offer information for the potential searchers to know. Examples are:

These questions are some of the hardest to rank for inherently because they are highly competitive and many people are searching these types of queries.

What are Navigational Featured Snippets?

Navigational featured snippets are those that tell the user where or how to get to a specific place. On mobile these appear most often as maps. These questions are often automated but can be optimized, especially locally.

What are Transactional Featured Snippets?

Transactional featured snippets are any featured snippets that imply an exchange of information. These snippets are most commonly:

These are some of the most searched for queries and are often times the easiest to rank for because there are always new and exciting things people are hoping to learn.

Our Featured Snippet Tips for 2020

When trying to rank for featured snippets, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.

1. Optimize Your Content for the First Position

While featured snippets are earned through a variety of ways, the number one way to earn a featured snippet is to earn the top position in organic search results. To do this you need to make sure your keyword research is solid, your articles and pages are optimized, and your competitive research is on point.

2. Utilize Structured Data / Schema Markup

Schema Markup isn’t the new kid on the block anymore. In fact, many content management systems allow you to build your own automated schema for your pages and articles. However, most brands don’t leverage all new pieces of schema such as:

These two pieces of schema provide an incredible opportunity to provide Google information.

3. Center Your Content Pieces Around a Single Question

We find that in order to garner the featured snippet market share for a particular topic it is easiest to focus your content on a specific question. No matter what information or transaction you’re trying to rank for, having that focus can be the deciding factor. Choose one question to answer and stick to it!

Don’t forget to include variations of your target question to cover all your bases.

4. Answer Questions Related to Your Primary Question

While this may seem like it flies in the face of the previous recommendation, in order to completely answer your target question, you need to address each part of it as applicable. Additional quality content about your particular topic can really boost your results.

5. Use the Properly Nested Heading Tag Structure

When you are building a piece of content that is focused on How-to content specifically, it’s important that the steps of your how-to are tagged as Heading tags. This helps search engines understand the material more easily and ensures the right steps are logged in the featured snippet.

Ready to Start Ranking For Some Featured Snippets?

We’re here to help! Our dedicated team of SEO experts in Des Moines can help you revitalize your SEO strategy to include targeted featured snippets and help you start to make a play for position zero. Contact us today to develop your featured snippet strategy!


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