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What is a featured snippet? – How to secure position zero

Google is constantly making changes to its platform, as such two years ago Google launched Featured Snippets which created the new ‘Zero’ position. As search engines continue to become voice search ready, changes such as these are ones that you should be taking advantage of.

So, what is a featured snippet?

Featured snippets are a summary answer to a user’s query extracted from a webpage that also includes the page title and URL. A featured snippet holds position zero and so appears at the very top of the page, above position #1, hence why its named position zero.

The featured snippet can be displayed in a number of ways, the first of which is seen in the image above as a paragraph that has an explanation or answers a question. Other types of featured snippets include: numbered lists, bulleted lists, tables, YouTube videos, images and charts. In some searches there is an additional section just below the featured snippet named the ‘People also ask’ box which includes other questions people have asked related to the initial query that your site can also be ranked for.

Not all of these types of snippets will apply to your site and so it is important to understand which type is most relevant for your site and the content you produce so that you can plan how to best optimise to achieve the desired featured snippet.

Why should you work to secure a featured snippet and position zero?

Securing a featured snippet is a fantastic way to build exposure to your site as you can boost your SERP visibility from a 5th or 6th position for example to the new zero position; boosting your SERP visibility through claiming the new top spot of position zero has seen an increase in CTR for those occupying it and so your site is very likely to gain more traffic.

If you hold position zero with a featured snippet it adds credibility to your site and brand as you are shown to have the top answer in which google has selected from all other possibilities and so if your answer is at the top it will seem to the user to be the most relevant for them.

How to rank for a featured snippet?

To rank for a featured snippet and attain position zero, you should be thinking about the following to ensure that your content is optimised:

  • First understand what keywords that you want to rank for, weigh these up with what you are currently ranking for and any featured snippets you may have against the competition. It is worth noting that high-volume terms and long queries comprised of more than six words are more likely to return a featured snippet.
  • Take time to think how your phrase your title; titles starting with the 5 W’s, those that pose questions and having the query as a heading on the page i.e. a H1 or H2, appear to rank much better.
  • Once you have posed a question, follow up straight after by answering the question directly as simply as possible, aiming for an answer of 40 – 55 words.
  • Make sure the content is relevant to what you want to rank for, so use the inverted pyramid to then add more relevant content around the topic.
  • Finally, good SEO practice on your site will help in securing a featured snippet

Having a featured snippet in position zero is a huge advantage for your site as it increases your SERP visibility which increases CTR and traffic to your website and as a result is more likely to convert into a lead.

However, gaining a featured snippet, position zero spot doesn’t mean that you will retain it as these positions are constantly changing. One of the reasons for this is depending on if more relevant content is created that answers the query better than the existing featured snippet.

Due to this, it is worth keeping an eye out on featured snippets that you rank for and perhaps want to rank for in the future so that you can either tweak your content to attain a new position zero, or alternative just ensure you retain the current featured snippet and position zero that you have for a set query.


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