Have you noticed that more and more often, when you make a Google query, you get an answer directly in the search results?
In SEO, this type of search result is called Featured Snippets .
In France, Featured Snippets appeared in April 2016. Since then, they have been shaking up the look of Google search and the degree of visibility of the different types of results.
Featured snippets have three main benefits for SEO:
Featured Snippets also confirm Google’s strategic ambition to become an answer engine, rather than just a search engine. With these “featured snippets”, Google is clearly stating its desire to make life easier for its users by providing them with a direct answer taken from a web page.
So how do you adapt to Featured Snippets? And how do you get to that coveted zero position ? Let’s see !
A Featured Snippet is the answer that Google chooses to highlight for a query made by a user.
To do this, Google displays an optimized excerpt of a web page in a block at the very top of its search results.
This is why it is also called SEO zero position: because the Featured Snippet is placed above the natural results.
Unlike Rich Snippets, Featured Snippets are generated automatically, with no markup required.
On this subject, discover our complete guide on structured data / Rich Snippets
Google has never given more details on the algorithm that allows it to choose to display an extract from a page rather than another in Featured Snippet. On the Google Help page dedicated to Featured Snippets, it simply states:
” Google programmatically determines that a given page contains a possible answer to the user’s question and then displays the result in an optimized page snippet. “
In January 2018, Danny Sullivan furthermore published an article entirely dedicated to Featured snippets on the official Google blog, in which he stated:
” We display Featured Snippets in search results when we feel this format will help users more easily find the information they are looking for, based on the description and when they click on the link to read the page.”
Although Featured Snippets are intended to provide a quick answer to the user, they are not only triggered for query queries, and can be displayed in various forms in search results:
Also called “Featured Clips”, this type of Featured Snippets corresponds to videos extracted from YouTube that Google displays in position zero. Unlike the traditional video carousel, a selected clip automatically starts and stops at the exact segment of video that meets the searcher’s request.
In August 2018, Google also announced the launch of a new form of Featured Snippet: Expandable Featured Snippets.
With this new format, Google displays additional information related to the subject of the query, under the main Featured Snippet. The goal is to help users by providing even more comprehensive results.
For example, if you are looking to compare quartz and granite, this is the result you will get:
The result includes the main extract and then four additional extracts to learn more about the costs, benefits, weight and durability of the two materials.
Do you want to increase your visibility and your traffic in the SERPs thanks to Featured Snippets? To succeed in getting position 0 on Google, you will have to follow several steps:
1 – Make a list of relevant queries in your domain that may trigger a Featured Snippet.
Ideally, we look for long tail keywords (four words or more), which have a significant search volume and which take a question form.
2 – Identify the queries that already have a Featured Snippet.
You will have to discard them, because if the place is already taken by other web pages there is little chance that you will succeed in dethroning them.
3 – Improve one of your existing content or create a new clear and concise content for the queries that you think could potentially generate a Featured Snippet.
Don’t hesitate to test different ways of presenting your content (as a bulleted list, a table, a video, etc.) because, as mentioned above, there are different ways of displaying it in the zero position.
4 – Optimize your text, titles and images.
To succeed in reaching position 0, remember that the content you create must be optimized. Your tables, texts, images and titles must be correctly structured, marked up and prioritized. Don’t forget to pay attention to the visuals that are displayed in Google Featured Snippets, because the image and the text do not always belong to the same URL:
Find out how to optimize the referencing of your images
To help you in your quest for the Holy Grail of zero position in SEO, you can use several tools.
At Alioze, as aspecialized SEO agency, we usually use our own semantic tool: semantee.co. In the blink of an eye, it allows us to collect the queries related to a keyword on google.fr (French internet users), google.com (English internet users), google.es (Spanish internet users), etc.
When a query seems to have potential, we check directly in Google if it already generates a Featured Snippet.
In the same style, you can use answerthepublic.com, which allows you to see the Google queries of Internet users around a given keyword.
Less efficient but still useful, you can also research new keywords via the Google Keyword Planner, which sometimes gives good ideas.
You can also search for queries related to your domain directly in the Google input bar to getGoogle Suggest. In this case, you will have to be brave, because it will take you a long time to do it manually and it will be difficult to get an overview of all the requests!
You can also go about it in a different way by choosing to improve your existing pages/articles that contain text that may appear in the zero position, instead of creating new ones.
For this, use a tool like Serpstat.
Let’s take Serpstat’s blog as an example. You enter your URL in the search bar, select “URL Prefix”, and then dive into the Overview report.
Then click on “Show all” to access the detailed report and find out for each keyword:
We then export this data into a Google Sheets table, ideally keeping only the values that interest us in our quest to reach the zero position, namely :
Thus, we can quickly identify keywords for which Featured Snippets already exist. These are all those that contain “a_box_fsnippet” in the column of our table corresponding to “special elements that display in the SERPs”.
For queries such as “definition”, “what is…” or “what is…”, Wikipedia still has the most Featured Snippet responses. As said before, it would be a waste of energy to try to compete with sites (especially when it comes to Wikipedia!) that have already managed to reach the zero position. Focus instead on queries that do not yet generate Featured Snippet.
We will then sort in the URL column of our document, to display them from A to Z. This allows us to identify all the requests linked to the same URL.
At a glance, we get the queries with Featured Snippets, and the URLs we can optimize.
In our example, we can see that we could add to the article “10 black hat SEO techniques to kill your search engine visibility” more information on the most common SEO problems, including techniques and tools used in black hat SEO.
If you don’t know where to start, focus on optimizing your articles/pages that have a traffic growth perspective. Often, these are articles/pages that :
You can also use Serpstat in other ways. For example, the “Missing keywords” feature will allow you to find ideas for related content topics from a URL (yours and, why not, a competitor’s).
Let’s take the example of a company specialized in the construction of ecological houses: Mioterr. We enter the URL of the site and we get a report that allows us to identify the most popular topics:
Serpstat also provides us with similar articles or website URLs to use for linking optimization.
In conclusion, Google Featured Snippets are web page snippets that are featured in the SERPs to help users easily find the information they are looking for. These extracts help to acquire more traffic and get the zérо position.
Haven’t worked with Featured Snippets in SEO yet? It’s time to start 🙂 !
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