The featured snippet has been an SEO buzzword and a prominent method for driving organic traffic for years.
Ever since Google introduced featured snippets in January 2014, ranking on “position zero” became a crucial part of every content strategy plan, and customized marketing approach digital marketers were drafting. In 2020, six years later, featured snippets are still a vital part of SEO, and we have the data and the case studies to prove it.
However, not all findings are positive. That’s why we’re going to explore the negative SEO impact as well. Our 2020 featured snippets guide is going to provide you with a short and concise walkthrough of the “position zero” landscape.
Let’s dive in!
Featured snippets are the selected results that show up in a box under the ads section on Google. They provide you with instant information or with a direct answer to your question. They also take up more space than any other organic search result on the first page. That makes featured snippets SEO gold.
It also proves that location is as crucial in SEO customized marketing as it is in real estate.
In fact, if you’re the early stages of drafting inbound marketing solutions for your business, you should add featured snippets on the list. According to an Ahrefs study, with a sample size of 112 million keywords, 12.29 percent of searches have featured snippets in their SERPs. Most of those searches are in the form of questions.
And that percent is getting higher each month, as voice search becomes another commonality. People ask questions; they don’t type in keywords anymore.
Hence, it would be best if you looked at featured snippets as SEOs do, as a golden opportunity for more organic traffic.
There is a difference between a featured snippet and a rich snippet.
To put it simply, a rich snippet is an enhanced organic search result, while a featured snippet provides you with the best answer (according to Google) to your question.
However, rich snippets are something you can do yourself. Featured snippets, on the other hand, are Google’s decision. You can “influence” that decision in some ways, as we’re trying to explain in this guide, but the final call is not yours.
But you can reap benefits from both featured snippets and rich snippets.
By optimizing your HTML code or using structured data markup to generate a rich snippet, you provide your readers or customers with useful information. The goal is to increase your CTR.
With featured snippets, the goal is the same, but the CTR increase is only one of the benefits.
There are five common featured snippets:
When you’re optimizing your content for a featured snippet, you need to find the most optimal way to deliver the information in one of the formats above.
According to the Search Engine Journal study on featured snippets, 81.95 percent of all featured snippets are paragraph snippets. 10.77 percent are lists, and 7.28 percent are tables.
However, getting a featured snippet is not as easy as it might look.
Even though most of the online guides keep referring to featured snippets as an easy way to get more organic traffic without creating new content or backlinks, in reality, that’s not the case.
You can’t get a featured snippet if your content is not ranking on the first page. And for your content to rank on the first page, you need a content strategy plan and a customized marketing approach that will get it there.
Furthermore, you need to optimize your content per specific guidelines to make it easier for Google to “pick up the answer” and consider it for that zero spot. That means you’ll have to add featured snippets on the list of inbound marketing solutions and review everything from keywords to referral marketing.
Furthermore, creating content specifically optimized for featured snippets or customizing existing content requires two different approaches. But in both cases, you first need to get to the first page on Google.
Before you start optimizing or writing your featured snippet content, you need to do custom keyword research and take a look at the material that already “won over Google’s affection.” Your best bet would be to start with a long-tail keyword or a question with lower keyword difficulty. Make sure that the keyword you picked:
Additionally, you can add niche related queries in your content. Finding them is rather simple and easy to do with a tool like Ahrefs/SEMrush or a simple Google search. Just scroll down to the people also ask section, and you’ll see the most popular questions related to your topic.
Once you finish with the keyword research, you have to analyze the content that’s already ranking at position zero. Investigate the structure of the article and the information packaging. Try to duplicate the approach by providing the answers in a more precise and concise way.
When you publish your content on your website is where backlinks, content marketing, and social media promotions come in. Once you reach the first page on Google, your article gets a chance at position zero.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to invest time and effort into creating fresh content that’s optimized for featured snippets, you can always update some of your existing articles. The first step is to identify the keywords with a featured snippet and the pieces that are already ranking on the number one page.
That’s the shortest and easiest way to get a featured snippet.
Once you’re done with your internal analysis, you’ll have to review the piece that already has the featured snippet and detect the differences. Make sure you modify the content to the reader’s intent as much as possible. That means your answers should be clear and formatted in the proper way.
There is more than optimizing your content for a featured snippet; you need to format your content too and point Google in the right direction.
And most importantly, make sure your HTML code is clean.
Voice search is one of the new and exciting fields that SEOs have been focusing on ever since the boundaries of e-business shifted with it. In fact, voice search became a unique golden opportunity in the same way featured snippets did. Ever since we were introduced to Audrey, the Bell Labs’ Speech Recognition System back in 1952, the trend for enhanced versions like Siri, Alexa, Bixby or Cortana was set.
Today, voice search is a little more than reality. It’s ordinary.
For example, consider Amit Singhal’s quote:
“The destiny of Google’s search engine is to become that Star Trek computer, and that’s what we are building.”
And he was the person that rewrote the search engine in 2001 and was named a “Google Fellow” for his accomplishment. If you haven’t been paying attention, voice search was a big part of Star Trek’s supercomputer.
Voice search changed the SEO game, and it’s going to continue changing the rules. Keywords in their previous shape and form will have to adapt to natural language patterns and conversational phrases. We’re moving on from keyword matching to conversation having dialogs.
Long-tail keywords will no longer be the exception, but the rule. In fact, according to a Backlinko study, the average voice search is 29 words in length.
Another exciting similarity that featured snippets and voice search have in common is that question words who, which, when, where, and how are most prominently featured. However, short answers will not trigger more organic traffic because Google will provide the information through featured snippets. That’s one of the negative SEO aspects that we’re going discuss here in this article, as well.
Local SEO is getting its place in the spotlight as well because 58 percent of consumers find local businesses through voice search. Hence, we’re going to see a lot more “near me” optimizations.
Voice search and featured snippets are inherently interlinked. Moreover, according to the Backlinko study, 40.7 percent of all voice search answers are from a featured snippet. That’s a pretty high percentage when it comes to organic traffic.
If you look at the featured snippet structure, you will see that they are perfectly optimized to provide a short and direct answer. Hence, they are perfect for voice search.
And they tend to feature natural, long-tail keywords. According to Moz, over the last two years, there’s an increase in the number of words in queries that have featured snippets.
Last, but not least, we must mention intent as the main driving force behind all significant changes Google is going to introduce in 2020, including featured snippets.
As we mentioned above, featured snippets can have some negative SEO impact, and that’s not only if you don’t have one. Let’s go through the data!
According to an Ahrefs study, when there is a featured snippet, the number one organic result is getting only 8.6 percent of the clicks. On the contrary, when there is no featured snippet, the number one organic result would get 26 percent. That means the featured snippet is “stealing” organic traffic.
Furthermore, in the same study, Ahrefs found out that featured snippets reduce clicks on search results by 4 percent. Hence, even if you had a featured snippet that doesn’t guarantee a click, especially if the person is searching for a quick answer instead of a detailed article.
However, the good news is that according to a Databox survey, 93.2 percent of responders said that acquiring a featured snippet has increased the organic traffic to their site. And HubSpot found that the CTR for their high-volume keywords increased over 114 percent with featured snippets.
If you haven’t already heard about “zero-click searches,” we’re going to tell you about them, because more than half of all searches today don’t result in a click. Hence, the term “zero-click searches.” And most of them happen because of featured snippets. However, even though the landscape looks grim at the moment, there’s always a way to optimize.
Thus, 2020 is going to be colored by optimizing for featured snippets and avoiding the negative SEO impact. Your strategy should center around keyword research. Finding the best keywords for a high CTR and optimizing your content for featured snippets. It would be prudent for you to check your Google Search Console data and analyze the keywords that are bringing you clicks.
Another huge trend for 2020 is structured data!
This complete guide is about structured data in a way because, as we already mentioned above, having a clean HTML code and adequately optimizing your content is crucial for featured snippets and rich snippets.
You should optimize for featured snippets for more than just driving organic traffic. You can also utilize them for brand awareness and brand building. Think about the positive impact on your brand if you manage to claim a featured snippet for your target keywords.
Featured snippets are here to stay, and if you want a successful customized marketing strategy in 2020, you should optimize your content accordingly. Even though there are some negative SEO aspects to featured snippets, it’s prudent to chase position zero for the exposure alone.
We hope our 2020 guide will help you get some featured snippets for your high-volume keywords this year!
Tanuja Mahant is an Editor in Chief and Publisher. She lives in Kullu (Himalya Mountains) with her family, a medium-sized dog, and an attack cat. She has climbed in the Himalayas, survived a shipwreck, and lived on a gold mine. When she isn’t reading or writing stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender.