Featured Snippets: The Coveted “Position Zero” in Search Engine Results

The main purpose of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has always been to get a website to rank high on a Search Engine Result Page (SERP). There are numerous strategies that come under the SEO umbrella – including link building, web content writing with the right keywords, Pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising, social media marketing, etc. All of these serve to attain the same goal – to be the top result a user sees on a search results page.


The methods used to get a high rank continuously evolve with new updates and discoveries made by various leading SEO experts. Google recently gave webmasters something new to strive for – the “Position Zero” aka the “Featured Snippet.” These results are displayed right at the top, making it worth their while. The result chosen for this position is slightly different from sponsored and regular results that are normally returned after a search query. Even the way this result is displayed is unique. It contains text, often accompanied by an image closely related to the search query. In Google’s own words  “it is enhanced to draw user attention on the results page.” It is a great step to encourage user-friendly content over just SEO-optimised content to achieve online success.


There are obviously several things that are working in favour of these featured snippets. The top position and unique display essentially present the link as the most credible result. This is no accident. An authoritative source is what Google intends such results to be. Currently, many of these results point to Wikipedia pages of related topics. But the picture is changing (quite literally) for many top keywords. For instance, searching for a product or brand may actually pull up the details from an e-commerce site and display it as a featured snippet over other results.


Digital marketers and webmasters already know the importance of ranking high in search results. So, it follows that they should also understand what a featured snippet is.


What is a Featured Snippet?

A featured snippet is a piece of content taken from a website that is displayed at the top of the search results, immediately beneath the search box, and above all other paid and unpaid search results. It is essentially a summary of an answer to what a user searches for. A part of the text in the featured snippet may be highlighted occasionally (in bold) to show the keywords in the snippet matching the search query. Search engines also include the title and URL of the page where the featured snippet comes from. A featured snippet may or may not contain an image.


It is essential to note here that the website that earns a featured snippet still has a chance to appear with the regular list of search results, essentially getting twice the visibility in the search results. Moreover, the website’s rank does not determine which site gets picked for the featured snippet.


Notice how the featured snippet above pulls the data from LinkedIn and not the top result, which is our page?

What are the Benefits of Featured Snippets?

Webmasters are trying hard to decode featured snippets to rise to the top of the search results. There are more than a few obvious benefits of getting your site as a featured snippet for certain keywords and the impact is far more potent than getting ranked near the top of the regular search engine results.


  • Boost Traffic: One of the biggest benefits that featured snippets offer is that they boost the traffic that the website receives. If a website ranks third (or lower) on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP), you can still aim for “Position Zero” since a featured snippet is treated as a separate search result entry. The website, therefore, gets a chance to have two listings on the result page without any extra effort. This may not stay as Google is considering removing the 2nd But even if it goes away, you are not just climbing the ranks but actually appearing as the best result. This perception alone can boost traffic immensely. Featured Snippets are also highly desirable now since they rule the search results when using voice search.


  • Build Authority: When a visitor sees a featured snippet of a website at the top of the search results, they automatically assume that the website is an authority on the subject. The perception gets a further boost when they see the same website listed in the unpaid results again. This improves the chances of the user visiting the website since they expect the webpage to have the relevant information they seek on the subject. There is an automatic Compared to a regular listing in the organic results with a short meta description in addition to the title and URL.


  • Beat The Competition: Even if the competition ranks number one in the unpaid search results, a website that gets the featured snippet still beats that result since it appears higher on the page. The visitor is more likely to click on the featured snippet over any result, even at the top ones, especially if the displayed snippet contains the relevant information that they seek.


How to Earn a Featured Snippet?

While featured snippets can seem appealing, there are no known shortcuts to earn them. High-quality content that had proper headings, formatting, and information may prove to be beneficial. Some research by leading SEO experts has revealed some points about the nature of featured snippets.


  • SEO-optimised content has a higher chance of making it as a featured snippet. Hire a firm that offers content writing for niche sectors to ensure that your content is nothing short of spectacular.
  • Subheadings, numbered or bulleted lists, tables, etc. are frequently chosen as featured snippets for various keywords, especially for voice searches.
  • Strategically divided content or Q&A formats frequently make it to featured snippets.
  • Higher social media share count seems to increase the chances of content being returned as a featured snippet since it is a strong indicator of authority or social approval.
  • Many studies also suggest that there is a strong chance of websites with snippets of certain length feature more often. Typically, the average is around 156 characters, as compared to shorter snippets.


It is essential to remember that you cannot expect to earn a featured snippet as easily as you may get a high rank in the regular search results. It is important to continue to push for normal SEO to boost rankings. If you focus on industry-specific content, you are also boosting your chances of making it as a featured snippet. For instance, if you own or run digital marketing for an IT or related business, an experienced technical content writing firm can create high-quality content that is structured, reader-friendly, and SEO-optimised, making it more likely to make the cut. The first step is to analyse a few search queries and results containing the keywords you are targeting to find simple ways to earn a featured snippet in search results. Most keywords still do return featured snippets – so there are a lot of opportunities just waiting to be tapped.

This post originally appeared on our earlier website: ihusresearch.com